First or third person POV?

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

Harper’s POV

It’s Friday (finally, I might add), and my brain is tired. At least I have 8.000 words of my WIP to show for it (should be 10.000 after today). I saw the Veronica Mars movie (Mmmm Logan, Yowza! Dick, but also mmmm Piz). I read two books, one of which I plan to discuss here very soon. I finished re-watching the first Sherlock series. All in all, I was so busy I didn’t even manage to cook much – which for me is a telltale sign of being overworked.

This morning, I sat down to write a blog post. What happened was – nothing! My brain said what’s enough is enough and it shut off. So I  said, okay, how about this? You have a moment to recuperate, while I post an already written text. How about that?

Since several readers said that they would have loved to see Harper’s point of view in Letting Go, I’m posting an excerpt here. This was part of an earlier draft where I wrote several scenes from his perspective. It’s essentially a scene that ended up in the final version, only retold from Isabelle’s POV. It’s from the beginning of the story where Harper comes pick her up at the airport. Bear in mind it’s unedited, though. Happy reading.

 

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Letting Go – Harper’s POV

It wasn’t his fault that he was late. Because of the heavy rain the roads were horrific, with two accidents obstructing traffic on the way to the airport.

He found her standing under the huge white clock. She looked lost.

When he hugged her and kissed her cheek, she asked, “What was that for?”

“Just so your return from France to the crass America won’t be too difficult.”

She tried hiding her smile, but he caught it, pleased with himself. The week before she left for Paris she’s been reserved around him. He guessed them dancing at the spring break school dance unsettled her. He’d ruffled her polished feathers a bit too much for her comfort. So she tried her hardest to let him know she was in a relationship with his brother. As if he hadn’t noticed.

“Where’s your luggage?” he asked when he didn’t see any suitcases nearby.

“I don’t have any. It got stolen.”

“Seriously?”

She nodded.

“Are you okay?” he asked. Jamie didn’t tell him anything about Isabelle being robbed.

“I’m fine,” she said, more than a little stubborn. “I didn’t even see how it happened. I had my suitcase by my feet and there was a little crowd at the train time table so I didn’t notice anything until I reached down to get my purse to go buy the ticket. But then I didn’t have enough money … I tried calling Dad, but I couldn’t reach him.”

“As long as you’re not hurt. You can always buy new clothes. Actually, you could use some more feminine pieces,” he grinned, checking out her blue tailored jacket and jeans. She didn’t look half bad, but she had so much potential to look scorching hot.

She made a face.

“You ready to go?” he asked to hide his amusement.

Isabelle nodded and he led the way to his car.

“So you went home over the holidays?”

“Yeah, I went home on business.”

It amused him how she was trying to act all cool. She wasn’t the kind of girl that talked a lot, so her attempt at small talk suggested she was nervous and uncomfortable. She’d always been a bit shy around him. He guessed that was in part who she was, but that he also scared her a little because he was different from Jamie. She probably didn’t know what to do with him. He found that strangely endearing because watching a confused Isabelle was a treat.

He opened the car door for her.

“Anywhere else to go before we leave? The police?” he asked as she got in.

He had to admire her. For a girl that had had all her luggage stolen, she was acting pretty composed. Most of the women he knew would have panicked and started pulling their hair out. Isabelle was upset, but she took it calmly.

“I talked to them already. We can leave right away if you don’t mind. I’d like to get home as soon as possible,” she said, and rubbed her temples.

It was six in the afternoon and it was a five hour drive. The weather was foul. He knew he’d ruin her plans when he said, “I was thinking of stopping in Perry later tonight and spending the night there. Driving at night in the rain sucks, and we’ll only be home a few hours later if the rain eases up by tomorrow and we’ll be able to drive faster in the morning. That okay with you?”

He could tell that it threw her. She hadn’t expected that. For a short moment he felt sorry and even considered changing his mind. But he was driving and he didn’t really feel like going through the night in this weather. Besides, he was looking forward to the opportunity to spend time with her alone, without Jamie around. He would make her squirm and sweat. He suppressed the grin that tugged at his lips.

“I don’t have enough money,” Isabelle said, pulling two banknotes from her pocket. “I’ve only got four dollars left.”

Like at the airport earlier, she seemed lost and frail. Not something he was used to with her. But when he remembered how obsessed she was with making sure everything went according to plan, it occurred to him that she must be more distressed than she let on. “Don’t worry, I’ve got a credit card,” he said.

She opened her mouth to say something, but then obviously changed her mind.

“You can pay me back once we get home.”

“But …”

“I mean it. Don’t sweat it.”

“’Kay,” Isabelle agreed, but she still looked troubled. Harper hoped she’d relax soon or this would be one awfully uncomfortable road trip.