By: Kristi Hartman
How do we, as writers, decide who gets to tell our story? Is this something you struggle with as you write your story? Is it going to be First-Person, with the main character giving you all the details and moving the story along?
Is it going to be Third-Person, where the story is told from an outside view, as if someone is watching the story unfold from an over-the-shoulder perspective of one character, or several?
Within the Third Person POV, we can have what is called The Limited Third Person POV, where the author enters the mind of just a few characters, usually one per chapter or scene. Also within the Third Person POV is the Unlimited, where the author enters the mind of any character, in order to bring readers to any character's experiences within the setting or the action that is taking place.
Knowing these options as points of view, which are the best ones for our story? Both points of view have their advantages and disadvantages when it comes to our story and our characters, so how do we decide the best fit?
With my current work in progress, I started writing in first-person, switched to a 3rd-person limited, then switched back again to first (and I wonder why it's taking so long to finish). The truth is, I didn't feel strongly about either view, and could see myself finishing my story utilizing either one. Now that I have switched back to First-person, I feel like it is flowing, feels natural, and the story is moving along nicely. My WIP is about a young girl and her struggles with her self-image, so it only seemed fitting to have her tell us the story. It seemed important and natural to get inside her head, and see why she feels the way she does.
Below is a paragraph I wrote, one written in first, and the other in third limited.
I sat on the cool cement steps of the front porch, the roughness of it feeling weird against the back of my thighs.
I knew I shouldn’t have worn this weird dress today. It bunches in all the wrong places, has a stupid-looking print of faded yellow daffodils, and makes me look like an 8 year old trying out for the position of Grandma Moses. But, I had to wear it. Mom forgot to put a load of my laundry in again. I carefully placed my clothes in the hamper like she asked, and then even went so far as to set my pink plastic basket’o’dirty’clothes in the hallway where she would have to literally sidestep around it to walk down the hall, hoping she would get the message. But nothing. So here I sit. In my stupid dress.
Piper sat on the cool cement steps of the front porch, the roughness of it feeling weird against the back of her thighs.
She knew she shouldn't have worn this weird dress today. It bunches in all the wrong places, has a stupid looking print of faded yellow daffodils, and makes her look like an eight-year-old trying out for the position of Grandma Moses. But, she had to wear it. Piper's Mom forgot to put a load of her laundry in again. She carefully placed her clothes in the hamper like her Mom asked, then even went so far as to set her pink plastic basket'o'dirty clothes in the hallway, where her Mom would have to literally sidestep around it to walk down the hall, hoping she would get the message. But nothing. So here she sits. In her stupid dress.
What do you think? Do I need to switch back to third again? ;)
Do you ever struggle with deciding the point-of-view? What helps you to decide?