Wednesday, February 16, 2011

WiP Wednesday: Rocking the Multiple First Person Perspective

Great balls of fire, it's been forever since I talked about the WiP!

To be honest, I haven't worked on it in a while, not since I started getting feedback on revisions for Evangeline. Been thinking a lot about it, though. For those of you who don't know (that would be everyone outside my crit group, lol!) I've got a title! A title I love.

I've decided to go with Aether, which is the substance my sorcerers harness to work their "magic". I've also decided the sub-genre is now aether-punk, a term I thought I made up, but the interwebs, they proved me wrong.

More importantly than the title, I've decided to change my format from a single first person pov, to THREE first person povs. (Don't worry, it's past tense. I'm saving present tense for my novel with four first person povs. ;D  How ya like me now?)

The funniest part is, I started out thinking I was only going to add one additional pov, but one of the characters was all like "Not without me, you're not!" I'm glad he did, because I feel like I have a better handle on his voice and personality than the others. I guess that means I'm really just a seventeen year old boy at heart. ;)

So here's the crux of my post. Quite a few books have been published lately with alternating first person povs: Across the Universe by Beth Revis, Lisa Desrochers' Personal Demons, Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver books. Personally, I love a well-written alternating first person pov, probably because I love first person so much that I enjoy the ability to get deeper into someone else's head with the intimacy that first person offers, and I particularly loved Lisa's style in writing both Frannie and Luc. They seemed so distinct, I was never confused about whose "head" I was in.

Sure, some authors do it better than others, but I'm curious to hear what you all think about multiple first person books. They've been around in literature for some time now, of course, but is this a trend for YA you think will pass? Or is it here for the long haul, as a proper pov alternative to third person?

I'd love to hear what y'all think!


Susan R. Mills said...

I like multiple first person pov books. In fact, one of my projects is written like that. I'm only about a third of the way in, but I'm really liking it. We'll see if I can pull it off.

Icy Roses said...

If it is done well, multiple first person can be really great. But I rarely like more than two POVs because usually it gets too cluttered or difficult to follow the storyline. Like everything though, there are exceptions. Great post!

Jamie Grey said...

I'm dealing with this in my current WIP! I started out writing in first person and had 3 pov characters, but I was worried that it would be too hard to tell them apart so I switched to 3rd person. Now I'm questioning that decision! Ahhh!

I love first person books, but unless it's done really well, multiple POVs are hard to get into. And I didn't know if I could do it well enough. LOL- I'm still not sure. I guess I'll have to play around with it!

Good luck with whichever you decide!

Krispy said...

This is my general feeling towards first person (multiple POV or not), if it's done well, then I'm all for it. I might even love it.

The thing with first person - multiple POV is that the POVs have to be distinct. Otherwise, I find it really jarring when the POVs switch. I think alternating between 2 is fine, but more than 2, I think it gets difficult for the first persons to be distinct enough or interesting enough.

There are, of course, exceptions. When it comes to first person with multiple POVs, I always think of Havemercy. The voices are distinct enough (some more than others), and the story is told through 4 alternating 1st person POVs. It was weird at first, but I loved the book and how it was done.

The authors did the alternating 4 1st person POVs again for their next 2 books, but that's when it became too much. The drawbacks of the 4 1st persons were more apparent: voices weren't distinct enough or I didn't like one of the POVs (which made those sections harder to get through) or I felt like the different POVs didn't add much to the story.

So it CAN be done well, but it's hard. It's probably just not really my cup of tea (in general). In either case, I wish you the best and I hope you pull it off. You might make me a new fan of multiple 1st person POV. :D

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I think it will stick around as long as writers keep doing it well. Readers just love a good story!! :-)

Tere Kirkland said...

Go, Susan, go! I'm about half way through, but I haven't had a lot of time to work on it with Evangeline rewrites. Good luck, and let me know if you need feedback.

Xixi, that's part of the reason I was cautious adding a third. But I swear, if readers love this character as much as I do, he'll be the favorite!

Jamie, you need to do what feels right for you. I'm never comfortable writing third, but it always seems more intimate when I start in first and convert to third, rather than drafting in third, if that makes sense. Good luck with everything.

Krispy, Yes, I'm so with you there on distinct. That was why I was worried about writing multiple first person povs. But another part of me (we'll cal it ego, lol) thinks I can do it, and better than some of what's already out there. So I had to give it a go.

Luckily, I've got a great crit group who thought the voices in my first three povs were distinct enough to keep on going in that vein, so I figure if all else fails, I can rewrite in third.

And I alternated every two chapters, to give the reader just enough time to get to know the character whose head we're in. It's tricky, but the reason I decided to go this route is that there were scenes I wanted to show happening that were outside the original mc's pov, and I still don't feel the intimacy writing third that I do writing first. Thanks for recommending Havemercy, I'll have to check it out!

Shannon-(love the pink wig, btw!) that's what I'm counting on. So far, it is a really good story. I just need some more time to work on it!

Thanks for the input, y'all!

Candice said...

I am good with all types of POV if it's done well (which I'm sure yours are!).

Laurel Garver said...

I'm so with you on why first person narration is more compelling than third--getting inside someone else's head is what I love about reading.

The alternating first person method fascinates me. I think Barbara Kingsolver's Poisonwood Bible manages four or five, and those multiple perspectives deepen the story so much.

Hannah Kincade said...

I love it!! I am a big fan of switching things up.

My current WIP is two close third person POV and one first person POV. it's crazy!! Time will tell if I delete the whole thing...

But I'm def on board!

The Golden Eagle said...

I love books written from multiple perspectives. It gives a more widespread look at the story, and can give a lot more complexity to the plot and characters.

Shannon said...

I'm all for it, especially since my WiP has multiple PoVs. =)

Anonymous said...

be different

Tess said...

I like the way Me is named Me....this is the fun part of the blogosphere :)

anyway...I do like alternating POV's in a story. My very favorite one from a couple years ago was THE HELP. Have you read that? It's amazingly well done and Dreamworks bought the rights and put it on the fast track so it comes out in movie form soon (for some reason I'm thinking this summer but it might be next).

How cool to be on fire about your work!

Abby Annis said...

I think as long as the voices are distinct, it can add a lot of depth to a story. Trend or not, if it works, it works, and you are definitely ROCKING the multiple first person perspective. And lucky me, I don't have to wait until it's published to read it! :)

Beth said...

Great post. And it sounds like you're on a roll. :)

I'm your newest follower.