Feb 18

Changing POV

Point of View is a Big Deal ™ when writing fiction. First person, second person (yeah, that’s a thing), third person; present tense, past tense; Omni, limited; on and on, oy.

POV is also one of the harder ideas to get a handle on– the hardest, in my opinion, being “show don’t tell”. POV breaks and head hops are very common issues with new authors and a huge red flag for agents reading submissions.

But aside from all the writing problems, choice of POV is an important decision when you are starting a new WIP. I wrote my first novel, Outland, in 3rd person. Most of the chapters are limited, but a couple are Omni.

When I started a different project (working title ‘Legion’), I naturally used 3rd limited again. After all, it’s what I know. But about 30k words in, I realized it was far too distant– the reader wouldn’t be engaged. The problem is that the protagonist is solitary for large stretches of the story, which means long sections with little or no dialog. In 3rd person, it begins to look like a long tell.

So, after thinking about it for a bit, I went through and changed the whole thing to 1st person. And whaddaya know, it works better. I can make the narrator voice more chatty, and describing small nuances of emotion feels more natural.

The takeaway for me is: be willing to try alternatives. Inertia is not your friend.

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