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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

POV Gripes

There was an interesting letter in the latest issue of Mslexia lamenting the self-conscious style of many short stories these days. What caught my eye was a little further down: the writer was scathing about the number of first-person stories out there and wonders whether it's a new rule.

POV is usually a primary consideration for any writer. I've written several short stories in the last year from a third-person perspective but I've then had to alter them to first-person. Maybe I'm more comfortable within it but, also, it suits the story I'm trying to tell. Two of my four short stories that are doing the rounds at the moment are told via first-person and the other two via third-person. My choice was primarily character-based: I can't sufficiently describe someone about to pass out from a head injury in third-person. I can, however, easily depict a funeral scene using a third-person POV.

The novel I'm about to undertake a complete revision of (for the second time I might add, I blogged about the first attempt here) is in first-person because it's the only one that works. I need my character to be unreliable; at points the reader has to seriously doubt what there are being told. I couldn't make that work in third-person.

Maybe it is a new craze but it isn't based on any 'rule'. It could just be that in times of uncertainty we look inwards and first-person POV offers a way to do that.

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