Friday, July 14, 2017

First and Third Person: Together or Separate?

A writer friend posted on Facebook about a romance she was reading and that she hated how it had switched from first person in the female’s point of view (POV) to third person in the male’s POV. She wanted to know if this was a new thing.

I pointed out that it’s not that much of a new thing in suspense/thrillers (I’ve seen the villain’s POV in first person a lot). Romance? Maybe. But then I haven’t read a lot of first person romances because I’m not fond of them.

I think certain genres kind of lean toward one POV over another. I’m okay with mysteries and urban fantasies in first person (although one POV in third would work for me, too). But I don’t expect to see another POV in those books. And while seeing first person POV for a villain in a thriller is a little jarring, I get it. Sometimes. But for romance? I like it in third for ALL the characters.

A romance in first person doesn’t to it for me. This romance reader WANTS to know what both characters are thinking/doing. That’s the fun part of it for me—the knowing and wondering when the other character will get a clue. But to put one character in first person and the other in third? That just distances me from the other characters. Why do it? Is this a writer thing or a reader thing? Frankly, I think it’s a writer thing (the writer likes writing in first person, but wants the other POV shown and can’t imagine writing a different first person voice for the man).

And don’t even get me started on both characters written in first person with alternating chapters. I enjoyed one book like that. The others were just too darn confusing. I couldn’t remember which “I” I was reading about without going back to the beginning of the chapter! I avoid those books now.

So… Does having both first and third person POV characters in a book bother you? What about alternating first person points of view? Or would the genre make a difference? If so, which ones?

Happy Friday!



Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Mixing point of view in any book sounds odd to me. It would be jarring going back and forth.
As for reading and writing, I prefer third. It's rare I read a book in first person. And I certainly don't want to write in first person. I don't want to be that much in my character's head.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Alex - It can be jarring. Same as going from present tense to past tense (different per character) within a novel. I just don't get it.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

The changing POV doesn't bother me, as long as it's clear whose POV we're in. That goes for both first/third, and multiple FPPOV. I even wrote a book in first/third. The heroine's scenes kept wanting to be written in first, but I wanted to include the hero's as well. But he's an alien and his thoughts wouldn't have been understandable (or even writable) in FP, so I used third. I knew this could be a problem, so I rewrote it in all third - and it fell flat. In case you're wondering what the heck book I'm talking about, it's one that hasn't been published yet.

Tense changes are a whole different thing. I hate present tense whether it's in part or all of the book.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Jennette - I'm not a fan of present tense, unless I don't notice it. Then the writing/story is so good it doesn't matter. :)

JeffO said...

None of it bothers me if it's done well.

Stacy McKitrick said...

Jeff - Problem is, it's not always done well. :(

Maria Zannini said...

I'm with Jennette. I'm fine with alternating povs, but not in present tense. Makes my teeth hurt. :)

Stacy McKitrick said...

Maria - I read The Hunger Games and didn't realize it was in present tense until someone said something. Most of the time it's jarring, though.