How do you choose your novel's perspective?

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Nathan Bransford
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How do you choose your novel's perspective?

Post by Nathan Bransford » May 24th, 2019, 10:46 am

One of the trickiest challenges authors face is figuring out how to literally tell the story. First person, third person limited, third person omniscient.... How do you choose a POV that works for the plot and is true to your characters?

How do you go about figuring how you're going to write? Do you try different things out? Just go with your gut? Choose strategically?

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Re: How do you choose your novel's perspective?

Post by J. T. SHEA » May 24th, 2019, 7:07 pm

A very good question, Nathan! My answer(s) might be all of the above, depending on the story. But I've always been drawn to the Observer/Narrator POV, the “Watson/Boswell” approach, as in James Boswell's biography of his friend Dr. Samuel Johnson, in non-fiction, and the Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, written from the POV of his friend John Watson. “The Great Gatsby” is perhaps the best-known more modern example.

In practice, the Observer/Narrator can become something of a sub-protagonist, notably in “The Hound of the Baskervilles”, where Watson is “onscreen” (literally so in the many movie versions) more than Holmes. The distancing effect can actually be beneficial, notably in regard to the enigmatic Jay Gatsby.

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