This week’s video discusses the pros and cons of 1st-person POV vs. 3rd-person POV in order to help you make the right decision for your book.
Few decisions are more crucial to your story than that of point of view (or POV). This is a multi-faceted decision, involving the questions: Who’s going to narrate? How many narrators will you have? What the narrator’s voice sound like? And, Will it be a 1st-person POV or a 3rd-person POV?
1st-person, of course, has the narrator directly speaking to the reader: I fought the mighty dragon.
3rd-person uses the character’s name and the 3rd-person pronouns “he” or “she”: Frederica fought the mighty dragon.
This is a decision that’s going to affect every sentence, so you know you want to get it right. But how do you decide which is right for your book—a 1st-person POV or a 3rd-person POV?
If you follow me on Facebook, you know I’ve been pondering this myself as I work on my historical superhero story Wayfarer, set in Regency England. I’m not yet quite happy with the narrative voice, so I’ve been playing with it—back and forth between a 3rd-person POV and a 1st-person POV.
Now I’m not here to tell you which is right for your book. Both are completely legitimate choices. But here are three thoughts to help you decide.
1. Even deep 3rd-person will always put a little extra distance between your character and your readers. Sometimes that’s a bad thing, but sometimes it’s actually a good thing. 1st-person narrators necessarily tend to be very self-aware, and when you’re dealing with a flawed character, that can make him less likable than he would be otherwise.
2. It also means you have to be much more conscious of showing your narrative rather than telling it.
3. And it means you have to be hyper-aware of the character’s voice, since every single word is, in essence, coming right out of his mouth.
In short, the 1st-person POV can be tricky, which is why I will once again probably end up writing this book in 3rd. But that doesn’t mean 1st-person isn’t an equally marvelous narrative technique, as long as you go into it knowing its pitfalls and how to utilize its advantages.