May 04, 2012
kosmo - See all 770 of my articles
When I write, I am a god.
No, I don’t mean that I believe that my work is as good as the legends of fiction. I mean that I most often write from the third person omniscient point of view. The narrator in this point of view is detached from the characters and can see everything – even the thoughts that are inside the heads of the characters.
I tend to kill off a decent percentage of my lead characters, and this is one reason for using third person point of view. If you’re using first person point of view and the character dies, the story pretty much ends there (unless you switch the perspective, which can be awkward). More important, though, is that the third party omniscient narrator works with a full complement of information and can describe the action in a completely non-biased way. Additionally, a third party narrator can include certain content that a first person narrator can’t. If two minor characters have a private discussion, the omniscient third party narrator can tell the reader about it. The first party narrator, however, can’t. If the main character doesn’t know about the conversation then the reader can’t know, either.
Lately, though, I’ve been tinkering more with first person point of view.
Why the change?
I’ve been reading The Hunger Games. I’ve had an interest in this for quite some time, since the concept was my idea. Well, perhaps not completely my idea, but about ten years ago I had an idea for a novel that had quite a few similarities to The Hunger Games (to be fair, there are a lot of differences, and both ideas probably were inspired at some level by The Running Man).
I’m about halfway through the third book (Mockingjay) and have thoroughly enjoyed reading it so far. That’s not particularly unusual. I enjoy most books I read – it’s pretty rare that I deem a book a complete stinker.
The Hunger Games, though, takes this to a different level. Instead of simply enjoying the story and having a fondness for the characters, I actually find myself emotionally invested. It’s not difficult to figure out why. It’s because instead of seeing the action from the detached point of view of the third party narrator, I see it from the point of view of Katniss Everdeen. Within the reading session, I effectively become Katniss Everdeen. I share her thoughts, her feelings, and her biases. I don’t have the choice of remaining detached from the story. I am Katniss and MUST be emotionally involved.
As a writer, I’d love to get my readers emotionally involved, as it makes it much more difficult for them to put the book down or have a muted reaction to it. An additional benefits is that it makes it easier for me to include details of a scene. This has always been a weakness in my writing, as I skimp on description and try to race along toward the action. From the first person point of view, however, I noticed more of the surroundings, as I look at the world from the viewpoint of the character. Even if I discard writing from the first person point of view, I should be able to pick up some good habits in the process.
I’ll certainly still write a lot of stories from the third party point of view. However, I’m planning to begin writing a substantially higher percentage from the first person point of view.
I know there are some fiction writers in our midst (even if you don’t self-identify as such). What point of view do you write from – and why?