Another installment from Unravelling Writing Advice series.
This is something that bugs me when so-called “experienced” writers claim that 1st POV is more effective emotionally than 3rd. Well, yes… but no. Let me explain.
1st pronouns might make a POV feel more effective depending on the reader, but if you want to make that emotional connection to readers in general, you can’t rely on the pronoun. This may seem obvious so some, but you’d be surprised the number of times I see other writers default to 1st because they assume it’s a closer and tighter POV.
As I said in my What’s in a Pronoun? post a while back, it’s not the pronoun, but the description and how deeply a writer delves into a character.
1st and 3rd POV are only a pronoun apart. Let’s break down some key things to consider when choosing between 1st and 3rd POV.
- You can have multiple POVs in both and have the character’s name as the title if it’s 1st POV.
- Or you could have a single POV in 3rd.
- You choose how far into a character’s mind you want to go, even in 3rd.
- Swap the name for 1st pronoun, and you could have the exact same narration.
- 1st pronouns might feel automatically closer to some readers.
- Sometimes the lack of character name can actually make 1st POV feel more distant to some readers.
- You can flip POVs more easily in 3rd, like from scene-to-scene.
- 1st POV is limited to chapter-by-chapter. At a push, you could title the scenes, but I’ve never seen that done.
The closeness of a POV is not defined by the pronoun, but by the writer’s ability to invoke emotion through their prose. It’s up to us to choose the best option for our story, and maybe ourselves. My novel in 1st POV just felt natural to me as a writer because it was more personal. The 3rd POV novels are all close, but not as close to me, so I automatically started writing in 3rd.
So maybe the POV is more about the writer and not the reader.