Thursday, February 27, 2014

Why A Selfish and Proud Person Like Me Doesn't Enjoy Writing in First Person

I'm currently struggling over whether to change my middle grade fantasy from 3rd Person to 1st. Two in my critique group are voting 1st and the other three are voting a kind of mix of 1st and 3rd. As one put it, "Just write in first person to really get inside Peter's head, then go back and adjust it to third, so you pull back a little, but not much."

I started out wanting to try third person omniscient because I was just proud enough to think maybe I was writing epic fantasy. Hah! Anyway, I'd pulled back to third person limited, but then I went to the ANWA Conference and pitched to Taylor Martindale with Full Circle Literary. She seemed interested but only asked me to send the regular submission--a query plus 10 pages--AFTER my final revision. I'd also attended her first class on "Writing and Selling Successful Children's Books." She emphasized voice, particularly first person, so I presented my quandary to her after my pitch. Her recommendation? Write a chapter both ways and judge for myself which seemed to speak more loudly to me.

Hence, my experiment with my critique group.

I still haven't made up my mind, but I realized some things about myself in the process.

1. I'm selfish. 

Yes, I knew that before about myself, but I'd never realized it entered into my reading too. I knew it entered into my writing because I have no problem shutting the door on my family when I'm in the writing groove. But this question of which point of view to use made me realize that I want to know everything possible about a story, both as a reader and a writer. I don't want to be limited to one person's point of view.

2. I'm proud.

Again, no news to me, but the fact that it affects my preference of POV was news. First person is so common in middle grade and YA fiction because children and youth find it easier to put themselves into the story that way. Would my deigning to write in first person mean I was acting less adult? Of course not, but it prickled my pride anyway. Somehow, I always saw first person as the easy way to go. It's not, by the way. It comes naturally to some authors and for others, like me, it's a forced process.

Do I enjoy coming up against my selfishness and pride in my fiction writing? No, I don't. But the truth of the story is what counts most, and if that means first person or really deep third person, then that's the way I'll go. 

I'll let you know next month the course I chose.


  1. Silly question... What's the difference between 3rd person omniscient and 3rd person limited?