Curious on opinions in writing styles

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chvyg80
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Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by chvyg80 » April 25th, 2011, 4:38 am

So, my first completed MSis written in first person POV, which I think suits the story best; but I've been advised that I should change it to third person. Most people that I know thinks I should keep it the way it's written, however I had another fellow writer tell me that she thought it would be best if I changed the narrator. Only reason I'm bringing it up is; it makes me hesitant to shop it around to agents. I know that most write in third person, and I do to sometimes, but I also wonder if it can be the make or break factor. I guess I'm curious to know what everyone's take on POV is. I personally like a good story, and if the story is told in a way that is believable, to an extent, then the POV in which it's written doesn't matter to me. The one problem I've had with my POV, is I can't seem to write a query letter. As silly as something like a POV stopping me from writing my perfect query letter sounds, it's something I'm having a hard time with. I don't know, maybe it's all in my head, and it has nothing to do with POV.
Last edited by chvyg80 on April 25th, 2011, 5:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by Sommer Leigh » April 25th, 2011, 8:26 am

My perfectly non-expert opinion is that you shouldn't change it.

You wrote your story the way you wrote it for a reason. Books come in all POV shapes and flavors, and there isn't any thing wrong with first person. I would say the only reason to change the narrator is if better things happen to another character and you just told it from a less interesting view point, but that doesn't sound like the case.

That being said, I know authors who've been asked to change their POV by agents and editors. The story was fine, but thought it would be stronger a different way. So I'd keep it the way you wrote it and if and when the time comes that an agent or editor thinks you should change it, then you can do so.
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by TheZies » April 25th, 2011, 10:20 am

chvyg80 wrote:So, my first completed MSis written in first person POV, which I think suits the story best; but I've been advised that I should change it to third person. Most people that I know thinks I should keep it the way it's written, however I had another fellow writer tell me that she thought it would be best if I changed the narrator. Only reason I'm bringing it up is; it makes me hesitant to shop it around to agents. I know that most write in third person, and I do to sometimes, but I also wonder if it can be the make or break factor. I guess I'm curious to know what everyone's take on POV is. I personally like a good story, and if the story is told in a way that is believable, to an extent, then the POV in which it's written doesn't matter to me. The one problem I've had with my POV, is I can't seem to write a query letter. As silly as something like a POV stopping me from writing my perfect query letter sounds, it's something I'm having a hard time with. I don't know, maybe it's all in my head, and it has nothing to do with POV.

Chavone

My first draft was in third-person past.

I rewrote it in first-person present. (luckily draft one wasn't even 100 pages.)

The story HAD to be told in first person. And it had to be happening NOW.

If you're story NEEDS to be in first person, then you must keep it. I would ask the person why they think it needs to be in third person.

And if their advise is "because stories should be in third person." Then I'd ignore it. You write your story and don't worry about that.

But if it is anything else, I'd look at what they said and see how you can adapt your story to answer those questions while keeping it in first person.

that's what I've taken from people's advice. I know what I'm trying to say. If they have a question, I simply have to answer the question. It doesn't mean I have to go in and change everything.
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by Margo » April 25th, 2011, 10:21 am

Why did the other writer think you should change to third person? Did the writer give you a reason? There are plenty of subgenres wherein writing in first person is the norm, a standard of the subgenre. Is this a knee-jerk reaction from another writer, or can the person make a compelling argument about improving the novel by changing to third person? My guess, since you are asking the question here, is that the other writer gave no reason or did a less than stellar job of convincing you of the value of the advice.

What's your genre/subgenre? Why did you choose to write in first person? Preferably something more than 'cause it felt right'? That's hard to turn into a persuasive counter-argument, becuase it would sound like you didn't make a conscious choice in your narrative approach.
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by cheekychook » April 25th, 2011, 11:06 am

First off, writing the query letter will suck, a lot, regardless of the pov of the book being queried. Trust me. Writing query letters is not fun. I know.

That said, query letters are written in the omniscient pov, regardless of the pov used in the novel itself. Don't let first person pov make query writing even harder, it's going to be the same no matter how many pov edits you make to your manuscript.

There are tons (TONS) of books written in the first person pov and most of them are better for it because, for one reason or another, the story merits first person narration. There are benefits to first person writing just as there are benefits to third person writing---you have to decide what works best for your particular story.

Rewriting a book from another pov is an extraordinarily common piece of advice handed out in writing groups and MFA programs. It's certainly a valid way to get a different perspective on your story and to explore options, but it is by no means a cure-all. If you feel it's something you'd like to try, take a section of your book and give it a whirl. It will probably be difficult, but in a fun-challenging kind of way. Let it sit after you write it, then go back and compare the two versions of that scene and see which you think works better. It will probably be pretty clear to you at that point if it is better off left in first person or if maybe a pov revision is the way to go.

Good luck.
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by rosepetal720 » April 25th, 2011, 11:52 am

I always, always start a book in first person and always, always have to switch to third. I don't know why.

I like third person a lot, however, because every narrator is unreliable. A character always brings his own perspective to the book. My characters never see themselves the way others see them or the way they really are. First person limits me, whereas third helps me to make a deeper character.

As for omniscent third person, that's a lot of work and takes a lot of skill. I wouldn't dare try it.

I think second person is pointless.
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by chvyg80 » April 25th, 2011, 1:16 pm

Margo wrote:Why did the other writer think you should change to third person? Did the writer give you a reason? There are plenty of subgenres wherein writing in first person is the norm, a standard of the subgenre. Is this a knee-jerk reaction from another writer, or can the person make a compelling argument about improving the novel by changing to third person? My guess, since you are asking the question here, is that the other writer gave no reason or did a less than stellar job of convincing you of the value of the advice.

What's your genre/subgenre? Why did you choose to write in first person? Preferably something more than 'cause it felt right'? That's hard to turn into a persuasive counter-argument, becuase it would sound like you didn't make a conscious choice in your narrative approach.
One of her reasons was that she felt sometimes my character would ramble on too much lol. I fixed that. When I originally wrote it there were 87,000 words, then my second revision had 97,000 (there were holes I had to fill). Then after shelfing it for a couple of weeks I went back through and cut it down to 80,400 words, taking out some of her rantings and musings. The story does flow better, but now sometimes I wonder if it's lost it's feel. She said that there's a lot of I's used in it, because it's written like she's telling the story herself, almost like she's talking to you or it's her journal.

When I wrote it, I had no idea what it was going to be about. I wrote it by hand (which I later used as my roughdraft), but as it turns out, it's about her feelings and the emotions she goes through while her life changes. The story isn't action packed or anything, but extreme events occur and she has a struggle inside herself to except her life and all of the changes.

It's a YA(she's 18 so that's what I've told to use) Romantic SciFi.
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by Fenris » April 25th, 2011, 1:24 pm

I realize at this point I'm kind of just adding one more voice to the clamor, but I agree that whatever POV works best for the story is probably the best choice. And if there is no reason to change it, then don't.

However, I'll add a bit of my experience here (such as it is): a book does not have to stay true to a single POV. You can go from first to third person, or from third to third person (switching characters), or from third to first. As long as the transition is done seamlessly and the reader can follow it, it's fine. I think rosepetal nailed it here with "a character always brings his own perspective to the book." If that perspective is something you want to show, don't hesitate to.

One thing, though: how does POV affect rambling? In first person, she would ramble. In third person, she would still be rambling (or someone else would listen to her doing so). It sounds more like the character's tangents are the problem, not the POV from which they're related. And if it's written like a journal, then of course there are going to be rants. That's what journals are for. As long as you can make each rant interesting, they may cease to be a problem and become entertaining instead.
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by Margo » April 25th, 2011, 2:39 pm

chvyg80 wrote:The story does flow better, but now sometimes I wonder if it's lost it's feel. She said that there's a lot of I's used in it, because it's written like she's telling the story herself, almost like she's talking to you or it's her journal.
So improved flow but possibly at the cost of the voice. Perhaps consider posting a before and after excerpt in the feedback forum and specifically asking for people's reactions to the two different versions?
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by chvyg80 » April 25th, 2011, 3:03 pm

Margo, I think that's a good idea. Thanks, I can't believe I didn't think of that :)
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by TheZies » April 26th, 2011, 9:32 am

rosepetal720 wrote: I think second person is pointless.

Second person is fun. I wrote a fun little short story in second person. It's very, very annoying :)
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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by jean_genie » April 26th, 2011, 5:42 pm

Just to add my deux centimes, I think that you are the best judge of which POV the story should be told. I've just started reading GALVESTON, which is written in first person and I'm already deep inside the main character's head, which I love. Until you get some editorial feedback from either an agent or an editor, then trust your own gut about how and who should tell the tale.

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Re: Curious on opinions in writing styles

Post by oldhousejunkie » April 27th, 2011, 1:36 pm

I highly suggest that you do not change your POV/tense. Like the others have said, you wrote it that way for a reason. My MS is in first person and I know for a fact that I was supposed to write that way. I know that because I started out in third and just couldn't connect with the character. So I went back and tried first, and voila! the story came pouring out.

I'm debating on whether or not I will re-write my other MS in first. I'm thinking 'no' because the MC is not as complex as the MC in my current MS.

Also, keep in mind that some people just don't like first person. And even if they agree to read your MS, they might not be the best person to do so. They might not "get" your writing style or your character. I will suggest one thing: make sure you are not filtering. I thought that because I was writing in first person my character had to view the other characters' actions through her own eyes. Not so. It slows down the flow and makes your MC seem too informed. :-(

Hang in there and stick to your guns!

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