YA Writing

1st or 3rd?

Lately I’ve been contemplating POVs. Should I write the protag in 1st and stay in his perspective or should I write him in 3rd and allow the reader to see inside a few other heads from chapter to chapter? Most of the books I’ve read caution against head jumping and I get that. It’s jarring to me too; that’s why if I do it I change chapters — if I don’t catch it within scenes, then oops — but I am aware of the rule.

In my current manuscript, the protag makes a life-altering discovery that only he can overcome, so 1st would be great to show his reactions/emotions and his mindset. However, after we get over all that, we still do not know how others feel about it since this discovery also affects their view of him — or their guilt — depending on the character. Therefore, I have been forced to really think hard about how to bring out their emotions without always relying on dialogue. It’s tough. I am used to writing in 3rd so this was never an issue. I had always reserved 1st and even second for my self-help books, but writing a novel in 1st is proving to be quite challenging.

Another difficulty I find in 1st is the past tense. Sometimes I catch myself writing in present when I don’t want to do so. I say ‘don’t’ when I need to say ‘didn’t’. 😦 Thank goodness for editors. 

Then there’s the suspension of disbelief: how can a person tell you a story that happened in the past when he already knows the outcome? Writing so that the reader doesn’t pay any attention is also an art. 

Fortunately for me I have lots of example books I can read to get a feel for it. Some of my fav authors — Gary Schmidt, Jackie Woodson, and even James Patterson (Middle School) are useful to read and re-read to jar the old noggin and get some ideas flowing. 

If you have any thoughts please on this post a reply.

Keep writing!



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