Authors Answer 23 – Point of View

I went to bed as normal last night, but woke up at 1am with the most horrific toothache. It seemed to bounce all around the right side of my head, centering mostly in my middle bottom molar, but generously affecting most of my other molars as well.

Now, I was kind of expecting something like this to happen. I had a filling done in my top right wisdom tooth two weeks ago, and everything felt a bit tender since then. Still, I wasn’t expecting the bottom tooth to be the problem.

Well, it wasn’t. Snagged an emergency dentist appointment at 11.30 and the dentist took three x-rays trying to get a good look at the wisdom tooth (without success), after which she said she was 99% sure it was the wisdom tooth that was the problem, and the fact that all my other teeth were hurting was just a case of referred pain. She gave me the usual options of refilling, drilling out the root, extracting, blah, but I was pretty much lying there going ‘Wah, anything! Just make the pain go awayyyyyy, please!’ so she ended up extracting it.

I must say that when I went to bed last night, I wasn’t expecting to finish today with one tooth less. And everything’s tasted of blood all day. I don’t like the taste of my own blood…

All of this has nothing to do with today’s question, but I’m finding it a little hard to concentrate at the moment. A shame, because the question is quite interesting: What is your favourite point of view and tense to write in and why?

Tense is easy – past. I hate, hate, hate present tense writing. No matter how much I enjoyed reading the Hunger Games trilogy, I never ever stopped noticing that it was in present tense, and I never stopped being annoyed by it. I know it’s supposed to make your writing more acute or actual or whatever the word is, but I just really really dislike it.

For point of view, my preference is third person limited. This may surprise readers of my trilogy, since I’ve written that all in first person, but that was an experiment that got out of hand a bit. I was purely trying to see if I could do it; it wasn’t my fault that I then ended up writing a trilogy. I doubt that I’ll go back to that pov once I’m fully done with the trilogy.

I will say, though, that first person makes it a lot easier to keep track of the plot. Everything you do and see has to be something that the protagonist does and sees. There’s no going off on tangents, dragging in secondary, tertiary and quartary (is that a word?) characters – everything stays with one person.

It is, of course, possible to do that in third person limited – you stick with one person. I feel that rather defeats the point of third person though, because third person is perfect for the old character hop. George R R Martin does it chapter by chapter, others just do it in sections. It’s perfect for keeping track of several separate, intertwining storylines, for finding out what other, key characters are thinking, etc.

I’m not that much a fan of third person omniscient, where you end up head-hopping from sentence to sentence. That said, I’ve got used to it, since Nora Roberts doesn’t write in any other pov, and I’ve read a lot of Nora Roberts by now. It’s just not a pov I’d ever deliberately employ myself. I have on occasion put in a head-hop by accident, but that’s the kind of stuff where you go ‘oops’ in the edit and quickly erase any trace of it.

I’ll keep it at that for now – I’m not going to even touch the weirdo povs like second person, or first person plural. They’re just too way out there and my gaping hole is starting to throb a bit, so time to relax and let the painkillers kick in…

Original post on Jay Dee’s blog can be found here.

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