Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Shift in Perspective

Rather than a word count goal this year, I decided to challenge myself to something more than a number.

My writing challenge for 2016  - 3rd person point of view.

Since discovering the deadly combination of Harlequin books and the public library in my teens, I have probably read thousands of romance novels. As a YA author, I've also read hundreds of YA books. One of the biggest differences I see in YA romance and adult romance is perspective.

As a romance reader, I don't like 1st person perspective. I want to head hop, to see events and other characters, feel emotions, understand motivations from different characters' perspectives. I've only read a handful of adult romances with 1st person points of view and I can't say those books have touched me the same way 3rd person does.

Up until 10 years ago when I started reading YA, I'd never read a romance in 1st person. Yet YA is almost exclusively first person (exceptions apply, though I can't think of many at the moment). When I began writing YA, I immediately fell into the habit of 1st person. All of my YA novels are in 1st. I feel comfortable in it. There is so much freedom in delving into the mind of one character so deeply that you barely have to concentrate when writing. Even as I began working on a YA novel with alternating 1st person view points, I enjoyed getting to know my characters so deeply.

Right now, I'm working on two adult romances. Both are in 3rd person. Until I started writing them, I'd never considered how hard it would be to control head hopping. Part of this stems from the older style of romance writing that I'm used to as a reader. I've read countless books in which POV switches between multiple characters in a chapter. I've seen it done.

But as a writer, I can't do it.

Books have changed. Readers have changed. There are expectations.

So, I am writing in 3rd person and alternating chapters or creating scene breaks when I move into a new head. Occasionally, I find my characters become all knowing, but it's a quick fix on my end and it helps keep me on my toes. In 1st person, it's easy to make the character 3 dimensional, and give the illusion of 3D to the other characters. In 3rd person, every character I head hop into needs to have a depth greater than they'd need in 1st. And the more I write in 3rd person, the more I realize how much I love it.

Challenge accepted. 

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