As a reader, I never really paid much attention to the point of view of a story. It was only a question of whether I liked it or not. That mostly depended on characterization, so if I liked the character from whose point of view the story was told, I liked the point of view.
As a writer, you have to pay a lot more attention to the POV you use. Not all points of view are appropriate for every story. I realized this was the case while writing my two novels where the first one, Letting Go, was written in the third person point of view, told from Isabelle’s perspective. The second novel, A Pretty Big Love, I chose to write it in the first person point of view with two narrators, so that chapters alternate between Chloe’s story and Chris’s story.
The major difference between the third and the first person point of view that I became aware of while writing was that the first person point of view allowed me a lot deeper insight into the characters. On the other hand, it made things more difficult because I had to be really honest and very precise with the characterization. With third person POV, there are things that you can hide behind the fact that the story is not being told directly by the person in question. With the first person POV you’re there, you’re on the spot, you’re the person, you see what they’re thinking and you have to relate that in the story. You have to be exact about what the characters feel and think because you can’t hold something back and ten pages later use it as a plot twist. That does not sound real, does not sound authentic and it disrupts the narrative. It makes the reader distrust the narrator (this, of course, can be used to your advantage if you’re writing a story that can benefit from an unreliable narrator). First person POV is a very intimate POV, very revealing and very difficult to write.
Because I have two narrators – Chloe and Chris – I had to pay really good attention to the characterization. I had to make it clear who the narrator was, I had to pay attention to their speech patterns, the words they use, the things they hold back from one another. All these details are important in first person POV.
I also think this is a very rewarding way of writing because as a writer you feel closer to the character and I think that also transfers into the reader/character relationship, so that the readers also feel closer to the characters. With that, identification is made easier. There were occasions when I wrote the story when I realized things about my characters that shocked me or thrilled me. Although the characters from my first novel were close to me too (obviously), I think this time the closeness was even more pronounced. This made it easier to express very strong emotions throughout the story.
I started writing the story from the first person POV, but after a few pages I started doubting it and I rewrote it in the third person. But every time I started writing again, I subconsciously reverted into first person. Halfway in, I realized there’s no point in rewriting it. That proved to be the right choice since A Pretty Big Love is a lot better written in the first person POV.
*A Pretty Big Love is a YA contemporary novel, coming in August from http://www.EvernightTeen.com