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Thursday, April 29, 2010

More Author Insight: Who's telling this story?

How do you decide what point-of-view (POV)
you want to tell a story in?

"That parts usually easy because my stories are mostly started with a character in mind. I've only written in first person, and with the character already set, I don't usually get too mixed up about it." - Suzanne Young, author of The Naughty List.

"I’m pretty much first-person these days, unless there’s a narrative reason it needs to be otherwise." - Jessica Leader, author of Nice and Mean.

"The main character is usually the first thing that comes to me, so there's the POV. (Although I'm still a big fan of using 3rd person over 1st, which gives a little flexibility for switching character focus.) I've experimented with having the narrative voice be a character itself, which was fun, but am *most* impressed by those who can juggle multiple POVs in their books. That completely boggles my mind!" - Dawn Metcalf, author of Skin & Bones.

"This is a hard question, because I think that, for me at least, it tends to be a natural part of the story’s development. It’s rare that I struggle to figure out what POV a story should be in. I love writing in first person because I think it brings and immediacy to the situation, and it’s often the case that a character’s voice will spring up fully-formed with I start writing. That said, I do try to consider what’s needed from a narrative standpoint. With Brightly Woven, I felt that it was important that the action be relayed to the reader from Syd directly, so they could learn about and experience her world as she did." - Alexandra Bracken, author of Brightly Woven.

"The loudest character wins." - Bonnie Doerr, author of Island Sting.

"Whatever comes naturally to me. I prefer first person, but I’ve written short stories in third and even second person." - Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.

"It decides itself with the opening line. Having said that - I have switched from first to third and vice versa, and once that made a huge difference." - Janet Fox, author of Faithful.

"Probably 90% of my stories (novel and short) are written in third person, singular POV, and I don't usually make a conscious decision as to "this is who is telling the story." A few exceptions include some extremely personal short fiction, a steampunk collaboration with James A. Grant (appearing in the next issue of Weird Tales) in which each of us took a POV and alternated, and the next novel series, which might well end up in first person!" - Lisa Mantchev, author of the Theater Illuminata series.

"This isn't something I choose. That's something that just happens- it's native to the characters. Whoever shows up in my head knows how they want their story told." - Saundra Mitchell, author of Shadowed Summer.

"I love writing first person POV. I get to really inhabit the main character's brain and pretend to be her for a while." - Shari Maurer, author of Change of Heart.

"The POV largely depends on the characters and the feel of the story. Some stories need to have insights from multiple characters or need to be told from a narrative perspective. Really, it just depends on what feels right." - Riley Carney, author of The Fire Stone.

"I tend to write it from the POV of the character I feel I know best, or the character most similar to myself." - Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy.

"I don’t usually think about it. My characters just come to me as these first person voices, so that’s what I tend to go with. I’ve tried third person before, but I have always ended up changing everything back to first, which isn’t fun, so I don’t try it often." - Kristina McBride, author of The Tension of Opposites.

"The story dictates the POV. I start out writing in the POV that seems right, and the story tells me if its wrong. I told you I'm a panster!" - Michelle Zink, author of Prophecy of Sisters.

"So far, all of my books have been written in first person - it's what I'm most comfortable with. But I have an idea brewing that I think would be best served by third person, so although it scares me, I think one of these days, I will be trying it!" - Lisa Schroeder, author of Chasing Brooklyn.

"I used to write all third-person. The Iron King was the first book I tried first-person POV, and it just clicked. I guess it all depends on the story." - Julie Kagawa, author of The Iron King.

"My default is first person, but occasionally a story demands something more distant, like third. I adore present tense. If I could always write in first person present, I would. As for WHO is narrating, that depends on whose story it is." - Tessa Gratton, author of Blood Magic.


Be sure to come back Tuesday when the authors begin confessing their writerly faults.


  1. I've never seen a post quite like this before... this is so awesome!
    Love, Hannah

  2. very informative post and lovely blog, especially the header picture.

    In a weird way, deciding on whose telling the story is like taking dictation from your characters