“POV. Please pick one and be consistent.”

This was a comment received on one of my early stories, delivered by Mrs. Martin, one of my high school English teachers.  Aside from the fact that she was an absolute witch, we called her Hecate behind her back, I remember her above all the others because of this one piece of advice.  While I don’t always tell a story from one single point of view (POV), I do try to avoid giving my prospective readers a case of literary whiplash.

I majored in English, with a writing concentration, so I have studied the various types of POV and have even tried my hand at writing in each.  My favorite POV to write in is the first-person voice.  It’s easier than say the second-person view, which always causes me trouble, although I think it’s an interesting technique.  As a reader, I prefer the third-person omniscient.

There’s something about this viewpoint that I find satisfying when I read.  Maybe it is due to an inherent curiosity on my part as to why a character is saying something or acting a specific manner.  I like knowing how one character is reacting to the words or actions of another.  The problem with third-person omniscient is the tendency to alternate between the characters too quickly – thus leading to the aforementioned literary whiplash. 

Third-person omniscient seems to be the most common for mainstream writing, so almost everything I read for pleasure these days is in this style.  When done well, this perspective is a joy to read (or write), but when it isn’t the result is frustrating at best.  In my own writing, when I use this view I work hard to ensure that my transitions are smooth between one character and another.  I’m not saying that I always get it right.  More often than not, I find myself doing the SHIFT Scroll CTRL+X combo or hitting the backspace key, repeatedly, while questioning what I was thinking.

So, what is your favorite POV to read or write and why? 

Mairead Walpole is the pen name for a somewhat introverted project and contract manager who has 20+ years of business and technical writing under her belt. In her spare time, Mairead reviews books for Crystal Reviews (www.crystalreviews.com) and writes paranormal romance. Her first novel, “A Love Out of Time” is available through Second Wind Publishing (www.secondwindpublishing.com) or Amazon.com.

2 Comments

Filed under Mairead Wapole, writing

2 responses to ““POV. Please pick one and be consistent.”

  1. christinehusom

    I don’t have a favorite to read or write in. In my mystery thriller series, I started writing it in the third person omniscient, but it seemed my young female sergeant thought she should tell the bulk of the story, so it’s in first person. But when the bad guys are up to their deeds, I switch to third person for those chapters. People tell me they brace themselves when they get to those chapters.

    I had never written fiction in first person before. The advantage is it allows the author to give the reader intimate details at a personal level. But it is limiting. Good question!

  2. I’ve written in both first person and third person. I find second person annoying as all get out. My preference as a writer and a reader is first person because I think it lends an intimacy that third person can’t match. For some reason, writers are advised that agents and publishers shy away from first person. Oh well. To each their own.

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