Tuesday, August 17, 2010

First POV by Carolyn Hughey

When I first began writing contemporary, I decided to write in First POV. My peers tried to discourage me from using this method saying publishers didn’t really like First POV, and my heroine had to be in every scene. And they warned me about how difficult it would be to get the hero’s point of view across to the reading audience.

Well after much consternation and research on the subject, I decided First POV for my contemporaries was it. Hey, if it was good enough for Janet Evanovich, by golly, it was good enough for me. I mean, it wasn’t like I hadn’t tried to write that same story in Third, I did, but it just didn’t have the same ring my snarky heroine needed for those fast comebacks in any given situation.

Here’s what some of my research produced: First person point of view is the most reader friendly. It’s intimate. The reader feels like the character’s best friend. In fact, the viewpoint character will often confide in the reader things he wouldn’t tell his best friend. “The Writing Craft Blog”

So, how can this be so bad? It’s not. To me, reading a fun story in the character’s point of view is like hanging out with her, having a cup of coffee, or better yet, a glass of wine and snacks. I’m giving my readers a front row seat to my heroine’s inner most secret thoughts. Things she might not tell her best friends for fear they’ll laugh at her. That’s means you guys are better than her best friends. You’re like her confidante.

So the humorous contemporaries will remain in First POV, and my Mysteries will be written in Third—for obvious reasons.

Oh and by the way, my hero’s aren’t having a tough time trying to express those views, feelings, or comments. You’re getting his thoughts by his actions, and she’s having a hellava good time sharing them with you.

Carolyn Hughey

[Carolyn, sorry for posting late. I am traveling and in between planes.]


Jill James said...

Carolyn, kudos to you and any other author who can write in 1st person. For whatever quirk I can't write in it and I can't seem to get into reading it. I think as a reader I need that distance that 3rd person provides. 1st can be tooooo close and personal. In a humorous story or something nice it wouldn't be too bad. But in a thriller or something it would be too intense for me.

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I love reading and writing stories in 1st POV. I agree with you 100%. Coffee with characters is always fun. ;)

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I think your first person character was great, Carolyn. I remember her well. You did a great job pulling us into her family situation and dealing with the people she worked with.

I admire you for doing it so well. I don't think it is something I could do, though.

Hope you're having a good holiday.

Sheila Tenold said...

Carolyn, good post! I admire authors who write in first person point of view.
I've read the best way to solve a "problem" scene is switch to first person POV and write the scene again. This makes sense since you can truly get “inside” the character with the highest stakes in the scene.
Enjoy your holiday!

Mona Risk said...

Carolyn, your first story was great and hilarious in 1st POV. I don't think I can ever write in first.

Quinn Tellier said...

Carolyn, After reading your post, the oddest phrase came to mind: "See ya! Wouldn't wanta be ya!" It's usually insulting, of course, but I think my subconscious is telling me that the phrase hints at how I select POV. When I'm writing a story about a couple falling in love, I want to watch them as it happens. I want to 'see' both of them. I don't want to just 'be' one of them. So, third person. (Should I blame Hollywood?) Oddly enough, when I wrote my first attempt at humor, I selected first person -- in two voices, in traded-off chapters. I guess I enjoy being silly so much, that I wanted to experience a two-fer.

Nan D Arnold said...

I adore first person POV... but I read a poll in RT Reviews Mag not too too long ago wherein readers declared they much preferred 3rd person.

Also--I changed my two books from first person present tense to third person /past upon editorial request (and I think lost lots of voice with the change).

Having said that, writers should go with what feels right for them and their characters-- and may the entire reading world soon embrace first person

Nan D Arnold
Quirky Fiction For Boomer Babes

Janet/Cricket said...

I've written a few pieces in first person, most notable being "A Promise Kept" which is part of my Gaian series at New Concepts Publishing. It certainly is easier to do first person in a shorter work than a longer one for the reasons you mentioned.

Carolyn Hughey said...

Thanks for your comments, guys. 1st POV still remains a controversial discussion. I guess the best gauge for what works for you is as Nan said, go with your gut--that is, until your editor says otherwise.

Joanne said...

I've never written in first POV, but lots of the books I've read lately, especially Teen books, are written in first POV.