This past weekend, I was at the first annual utopYAcon (wonderful: buy your tickets for 2013 immediately). I had the pleasure of participating on a panel with Raine Thomas and Willow Cross. We were talking about how to select point of view for your writing.
Lots of young adult fiction is written in the 1st person. There is something wonderful about this perspective in the way that it creates instant intimacy with the characters by pulling you not only into their shoes but inside their heads. 1st person can also lend a kind of urgency to an action-oriented story. However, there are some limitations to a 1st person narrative. A first person character can only know so much, and the reader only sees that narrator’s interpretation of events. These are some things to consider when contemplating whether this is the best perspective for your tale.
Both Interlopers and Posers are in written in 3rd person (omniscient–if you want to get technical). I chose this perspective for a reason. As I was brainstorming about the Shifters Novel series, I knew that I would need to be able to show more about the world that I was creating than my main characters could know. For that reason, I knew that 3rd person, rather than 1st, would be better. 3rd person is great because it allows me to build the worlds while also pacing the main characters revelations about that world. It also creates the neat trick of the reader sometimes knowing more than the characters, which is fun.
Of course, these are not the only options. One approach that is really popular is to have alternating 1st person perspectives. These days authors are experimenting with all sorts of mash-ups. One of the things to remember about this, as well as other choices about writing, is that it is important to be deliberate about the choice. Consider the experience that you want your reader to have. It is important for your story that the reader see the entire world clearly? Do you have substantial world building to do? Do you need to be able to detail events that your main character could not possibly know about? Then 3rd person might be for you. Alternatively, are the thoughts and ideas of the main character the most important thing? Are you trying to highlight a particular way of seeing the world? If so, 1st person might be the way to go.
There is a lot more that can be said about the issue. Next week, I will offer a brief post of the question of voice and some strategies for making each character distinctive.