Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Breaking the First Person Reader Block

I wish I had a dollar for every time someone said, "I don't like first person POV...". I'd be rich enough to run for President.

My immediate response is...what's not to like?

Most of us, when asked what draws us into a book, cite the characters as the main draw. We want to get to know the characters, we want to like them, we want to be drawn into their world. What better way to accomplish this than to go directly into their heads?

Nothing puts you into a character's head like first person POV...it is the most like real life experience of any of the POVs. It is life, action, and emotions as felt by a single character, moving through the events of the story as we move through our lives, not knowing what's coming around the corner at us and being reduced to reacting to whatever it is as it hits us. It is guided by the experiences of the character and colored by his or her prejudices. It allows us to envision their world the way they see it.

Now, I realize it has its limitations. You can't really get into the heads of the other characters in a work of fiction that uses first person POV, but a skilled writer can take you there in other ways. And you are, at any given time, restricted to the events immediately surrounding the main character. But what this does is require that the writer create a lot of energy and activity around that character to keep you interested.

When writing in first person POV the writer also needs to ensure that the character is vibrant and interesting enough to carry the story. This can only make for a better story, better dialogue, more fun.

Many very good writers write in first person POV. A few examples: Janet Evanovich, Laurell K Hamilton, Mary Janice Davidson, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Sam Cheever...oops, that just slipped in there. If you tell yourself you'll never read first person look at what you'll be missing!

So please, if you're one of those people who has decided first person POV isn't worth your time or interest, it might be time to broaden your reading horizons and add more fun into your life. Drop the prejudice against first person and branch out a bit. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by what you find when you get out there.

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