1. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Pov Preferences? Is it just me

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by peachalulu, Jun 24, 2013.

    I'm thinking of writing some short stories. Possibly romance, maybe horror. And I've been reading a lot for
    inspiration from all venues - from free sites to O'Henry awards collections -
    and I'm amazed that a lot, especially romance & ya, love their I pov - is it just me or do certain
    readers prefer genre stories written in I pov?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Not just you. And though 1st PPOV is nothing new, there seems a connection with younger readers. Not all, not in every case, there are no absolutes, but there seems a distinct tendency.
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    No, actually it's a lot of recent stuff, the O'Henry winners featured a lot of I pov's and the collections I was reading, the oldest I think was
    2000. I'm shocked. I though I pov was mainly for Ya. I've never been crazy about it.

    The two novels I wrote in I pov the chapters were really bloated. I could never get a handle on the introspection.
    It also felt a little egotistical my character always talking about his desires and stuff - come to think of it the two mc's were egotistical
    bastards so maybe that had something to do with it.

    I'm mainly afraid of alienating myself in a genre. There seems to be this glut of grown-woman reading Ya fiction and I think
    the I pov style has spread to include romance - especially shorts.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The single POV choice is the single strongest argument in favor of first person narrative. It does have a unique flavor that many readers have a taste for. Third person limited comes close, but the unreliable narrator nearly always calls for first person.
     
  5. Mot
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    Mot Member

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    I personally detest stories written in the first person. The majority of these are YA and/or romance (as noted in a post above), and I find them hideously amateurish. It reminds me of the stories I used to write in primary school.

    Firstly, you only ever find out as much as the narrator knows, which usually leaves you with single-faceted characters. Do you personally know everything about everyone you interact with? How many times has someone done something to you, and you were unable to work out their motivations? How much do you even understand about yourself?

    Unless your MC is great at reading body language, has a complete knowledge of the upbringing/life experiences/personal characters of everyone they meet and has an excellent grasp of human and social psychology, the omniscient narrator of the third person POV will always come up trumps. No actual person knows as much as the omniscient narrator. Any character with this ability is going to be unrealistic.

    Now, there's a tendency for these authors to have wholesome, average and endearingly clumsy narrators (Bella from Twilight and the girl in 50 Shades of Grey for example). These people annoy me, and the stories are inevitably the same: Miss Pathetic always makes a fool of herself in front of Mr Perfect-Abs. He is drop-dead gorgeous, but has a troubled past/trust issues. Although Miss Pathetic is boring and totally vanilla, there is 'something about her' that he 'hasn't felt with other girls' (my eye is usually twitching by this point). Miss Pathetic is the one to 'tame' Mr Perfect-Abs. Together, they work through his issues and fall madly in love.

    I also forgot to mention that first person narration requires the reader to be interested in the MC's point of view. Most people aren't actually very interesting, and I rarely come across characters that are strong enough for me to want to live inside their head for 350-odd pages.
     
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  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Not all first person writing is bad. Sue Grafton's alphabet mysteries are, in my opinion, a must read for anyone who wants to learn how to use first person effectively.

    Howeve, there is a lot of very bad first person writing. The greatest sin of first person writing, again in my opinion, is focusing too much on the POV character instead of what is going on around that character. Write outward, not inward, is my standard admonishment.
     
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  7. CheckeredFoxglove
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    CheckeredFoxglove Member

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    I hate first-person POV. It's narcissistic. Reading a First-Person story feels like I'm peacefully waiting for my bus, just trying to get home, when some idiot sits on my bench like we're best friends and starts telling me about their day. I don't know you! Why do you think I care about you?! Go away! I'll suffer through the first chapter or two if the blurb was interesting enough, but it takes much longer to immerse me, because I don't want to give the MC my attention.

    Given the sheer volume of First-Person stories lately, I don't think most people feel this way. But if you're asking whether certain readers have preferences, then yes, they do. I suspect that YA prefers it because YA is about the internal experience of the MC, and introspection sometimes works better in first-person than in third-person, and that Romance prefers it because it's easier to self-insert into a first-person POV story, and self-insert is the point of romance (as far as I can tell).
     
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  8. Justin Rocket 2
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    Justin Rocket 2 Contributing Member

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    I find 1st person feels like a friend telling me about something that happened to them. It is a relaxed and personal POV.
    I find CheckeredFoxglove's argument curious because I can easily and, without causing a scene, put a 1st person book down. In that way, a stranger cutting into my personal space is intrusive whereas a book is not.
     
  9. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I find that any POV can be done well. Readers may tend to have biases against one or the other, but I think for the most part if you give the readers a well-written, engaging story, they aren't going to turn it down because of the POV. I'm happy to read any POV if the writer did a good job with it.
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm surprised that some aspiring writers have actually said they find it easier to write in 1st POV. To me it's incredibly difficult to be so intensely inside a character's head, and maybe it is because of the over-abundance of 1st POV in romance, YA, and urban fantasy, that even if I try, it starts to look even more amateurish than my average writing. However, when done well, I do enjoy reading 1st person narrated novels. Although, I will probably never read The Hunger Games because of the POV. Sometimes it just feels wrong, especially when the MC is not engaging.

    I tend to refrain from book-bashing because it makes me happy if something -- even if it's crap -- brings joy to readers, but this pretty much nailed it why I can't enjoy these two "sagas". It comes down to an annoying, unrelatable MC. I can't relate to unassuming vanilla girls, plus they're infinitely boring. On the other hand, I usually like somewhat edgy narrators, but e.g. Richard Kadrey's Sandman Slim really rubbed me the wrong way. A lot comes down to how it's executed.

    In general, the good ole 3rd person (or 3rd person limited) is my favorite.
     
  11. E. C. Scrubb
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    E. C. Scrubb Active Member

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    I used to hate 1st person, but then I read a few 1st person stories and got used to it. Now, It's not really much of an issue anymore. I've only written one short story in 1st person. It's posted here as well, and got some pretty good reviews. I want to write in it some more, but I have a tendency to write pretty intricate, layered stuff, (or so I've been told) and that's hard in first person I think.
     
  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Cogito said it well.

    The self-indulgent aspect of a first-person narrator wallowing in angst, etc, is what really troubles most people, according to the comments so far. If the first person narrator observes and tells the reader what they see, rather than every nuance of emotion they are 'feeling,' the 'yuk' factor is diminished a lot.

    What is most interesting, for me anyway, is when the 1st person narrator is NOT the main character, but tells us the main character's story. So much scope for surprise, here, including using an unreliable narrator whose view of the main character may be severely flawed.
     
  13. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    First person can be good if it's written properly. I agree with all of the above about bland characters. That really ruins a book for me. I prefer writing in third person. I like the flexibility of it. When I first started writing more seriously I tried first person and wound up being very frustrated with it. So I decided it just wasn't for me and moved on to third person. :)
     
  14. Alesia
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    Alesia Pen names: AJ Connor, Carey Connolly Contributor

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    Good to know I'm not the only one that really can't stand first person POV. While there are some I do enjoy like Stephen Kings Rita Hayworth And The Shawshank Redemption, most of the time I will put down a book when I get through the first few pages and just see a sea of I, me, and I'm. The ONLY time I ever used it in my personal writing was when I started work on a novel based on things that happened to me during my life, mainly because that was the perspective I best knew these events taking place in.
     
  15. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, that's a good example. A good book overall, and one that sticks a finger in the eye of just about any so-called 'rule' of writing you want to name.

    Another great example of an unreliable narrator is Humbert Humbert in Vladimir Nabokov's Lolita.‚Äč
     
  16. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Why do you waste your precious life reading unremarkable crap like that anyway? :)

    Maybe the problem people have with 1st person pov, and with many other issues of writing, is that they look for literature in all the wrong places... Maybe reading GOOD books is a better way to learn about writing than reading CRAP books.... Or maybe it's just me...
     
  17. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good luck... Stopped doing that kind of research since I turned 30. :)

    On the serious note: I somehow feel the resentment of some people towards any particular literary technique comes mostly from under-exposure to quality literature - where almost everything has been used, more or less, with success. For every 100 sloppy uses of 1st p.pov in second rate novels (for example), a single effectual use in a good book is all it takes. Not that 1st p.pov needs apologists, but some people should really learn how to use their public libraries for more than just free wi-fi...
     
  18. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Makes perfect sense. That's why unless a book is so horrible I throw it across a room I will read the entire thing. I agree there's just as much to be learned from terrible books as great ones.

    haha Painful indeed.
     

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