Over the past week, I have read, three new books written in first person PoV. Well, to be accurate, I have started three books. One I discarded after chapter three, one I finished and enjoyed, and the third I am really ‘Into’ and it has inspired in me an ambition to write one of my own.
However, any critique group and other writer’s forums will tell you that First Person PoV is frowned upon by editors who advise strongly against using it. So what about these three books I picked off the shelves of Waterstones last week, all published in the last five months written in First person.
I write historical fiction, so if I am going to attempt this, I need to have a strong and interesting main character. The plot and other characters have to be seen entirely through her eyes, and yes, it will be a she. Those happenings require a unique slant to make the reader empathise with the character, are 'walked through' their life and care what happens to her.
I also have to place her in a world she doesn’t necessarily feel comfortable with. After all, if she’s meek, obedient and hasn’t an original thought, she'll be predictable and who’s going to be interested enough to persist to the end of the novel?
My reasons are: instead of writing as an observer after the fact, I can live the events with my character. The shock of a discovery, an impulsive action she regrets later, her remorse, contrition and then the resolve to do better in future. All the things handled in third person PoV, but in a more raw, immediate way.
The disadvantage of course is that events that happen ‘off screen’ have to introduced as eavesdropping, hearsay or using some other way of revealing facts. The story has to unfold with all the misinformation, prejudices, incorrect conclusions and revelations which happen in real life.
With first person, everything has to be made clear in one head – the heroine’s. How she reaches the knowledge she needs, the character growth and overcoming a prejudice, cannot simply happen, but must be logical and credible.
I would be interested to know what others think about first person PoV.
Is it a natural and easy way to write, or do you find it restrictive and full of obstacles?
Do you like reading first person PoV novels, or do you prefer seeing things through multiple character’s eyes?