WIP Problem: Choosing a Point of View

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April 20, 2013 by Ifeoma Dennis

My new WIP- the working title is DOT- is taking shape…slowly.
Naturally, I started writing in first person present (like the manuscript- BLUED- I wrote last Christmas) but halfway the first chapter, I found myself wondering if I was grasping the “voice” of my protagonist right.

I went to high school in Nigeria and the “voice” an average sixteen year old uses there is quite different from the voice in most YA novels I see. It’s less snarky (not that I have a problem with snarky, I like it!) and the “slangs” are also different.
The voice in my first manuscript (BLUED) was snarky but I still wonder if I did it right since it was not the way I talked as a sixteen year old.

(I’m twenty-two now, by the way).

So what I did for DOT was write the first chapter in three POVs- first person present, first person past and third person past limited- hoping that when I was done, I could look at them and decide which I loved most.
But it was even more confusing when I finished the first chapter and I tore my hair over it for days (who knew choosing a point of view could be that tough?)
So I shared my concerns with my awesome CP- Carissa and a new super writer friend Laura– they both gave me their opinions (thank you!) and after sleeping over that for two or three nights, I decided to write DOT in third person past limited.

And this is the reason why-
In my mind (God willing), DOT would be a series- each told from the POV of different characters (as opposed to one steady protagonist through the series) Much like Graceling, Fire and Bitterblue . So it’d be slightly difficult capturing each of them in unique voices with the first person POV. I don’t want the lines to blur.
Also, it’s a YA (High/Middle?) fantasy so I think a third person POV would do the world and plot more justice.
I’m still outlining but this is where I am right now. I’m glad this particular WIP problem is solved.

Issues I’m still worried about-
One- the inciting incident in my opening pages (I feel it’s a tad too violent) – but I guess I’d just write and come back to the opening pages later.
Two- should I make my protagonist a sixteen-year-old or take a risk and make her twenty? Guess I’ll decide by the time I’m done with my outlining- since my book won’t contain explicit sex scenes, is it necessary to make her twenty? (I’m inclined toward twenty because I’m closer to it than sixteen, so…)

Any thoughts?

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14 thoughts on “WIP Problem: Choosing a Point of View

  1. […] WIP Problem: Choosing a Point of View (ifeomadennis.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Holy cow–I’m reeling because my manuscript has been dubbed “DOT” for the past year! But in my case, “DOT” is an acronym which stands for “Daughter of Time.”

    I, too, struggled with POV for my story. I ultimately decided on first-person for the heroine, but alternating chapters switch to third-person limited for the main secondary character. It was a risk, but so far I really like it. Another thing I considered was telling the story in present tense. That seems so unnatural to me, but present tense novels are growing in popularity in YA fiction (i.e. Hunger Games). This time I wasn’t quite ready for that, but I’d still love to give it a shot someday.

    Thanks for swinging by my (and my sis’s) blog Ifeoma!

    • My sentiments exactly!! I did see it on your blog post about World’s End and did a double-take! But at least, our titles are not the same 😉 Exhales**

      Yes, Hunger Games really made me like first person present POV– before then, Twilight made first person past tense really cool. Most of the books I read pre-Twilight were written in third person (Harry Potter for example).
      I guess we just have to write the POV that resonates with our stories and I really admire the risk you’re taking with both first-person past and third-person limited for yours. REALLY ADMIRE THAT.
      I’m not that adventurous, but maybe one day I could give it a shot 🙂

      Thank you for stopping by too, Jodi…I hope to read more of your posts 🙂

  3. bstaveley says:

    Hi Ifeoma —

    Here’s a post that I wrote a while back about the choice of POV in fiction. If you *do* decide to go with 3rd limited, it might be useful…

    http://bstaveley.wordpress.com/2013/03/10/the-little-fat-one-free-indirect-style-in-fantasy/

    Cheers!
    Brian

    • Yes, I read it!— although at the time, I was still using the first person POV. But since I made the switch to third, that particular post has been REALLY helpful to me while writing descriptions. It’s invaluable!! THANK YOU!

  4. […] WIP Problem: Choosing a Point of View (ifeomadennis.wordpress.com) […]

  5. I like the advice of having a mature sounding 16yr old. Might be a good starting place to see if that works? If not – change it! 😉 Your post made me think about recent female protagonists – they are all a bit snarky, aren’t they?

  6. I share Carissa’s love for third person POV and I think it a great choice for fantasy novels, especially if you are hoping to make them into a series. Also I guess the age thing will depend a lot on the subplot of your story, it could call for an older character, and this would turn your story into an adult novel, which can open up a whole load of options to you. However, I do tend to find that MCs in fantasy can have an older sounding voice, purely due to what happens to them throughout the story, it can make them grow up a bit faster (although this does apply for other YA genres) and also your MCs background.
    I’m intrigued to hear more about your project and I’m glad it’s going well so far 🙂

  7. I really love stories written in 3rd POV, and I think it’s a perfect choice for higher fantasy!

    I definitely agree with you on the opening pages – just write it, get it out there, and revisit later. Hmm, re: question two, I think the best thing would be just to see what comes naturally to the story. The one thing that could make revision difficult is the MC’s backstory though – especially if you’re crossing milestones like graduating from high school (not sure how high-high fantasy this is)… if you switch from in-school to out of school, that could make the story really different, so it might be a reason to decide up front.

    I think that a lot of people really appreciate MCs that sound just a tiny bit older than their age … who act (at least some of the time) more mature, or who have deeper insights than are typical for High Schoolers. So I think you could still write a 16yo and have her voice more mature. But of course New Adult is really taking off, so an 18-20yo could be great too!

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