first draft

First Draft: Point of View and Tense

Thanks for joining me for another instalment of my First Draft series. This instalment is all about point of view (POV) and tense.

What is POV?

The point of view refers to the narrator. Who is telling the story?

3 Types of POV

First person: The narrator is telling you their own story. ‘The room was just how I had left it.’

Second person: The narrator is telling the story to another character or the reader using the word ‘you’. ‘You enter the room and see nothing has changed.’

Third person: The narrator tells the story of another, as an outsider. ‘The room was just how he had left it.’

I like to write in first person. All my books are in qfirst person. In Thrown to The Blue, I have 2 POVs, both in first person. That was a lot of fun to write.

What is tense?

Narrative tense is when your story is happening/ or has happened. Past or present.

Types of Tense

Past tense: You are telling the story as if it has already happened. ‘I jumped in the car and sped off.’

Present tense: You are telling the story as if it is happening right now. ‘I jump in the car and speed off.’

You will find that there are preferred POVs in regards to tenses. Third person past tense is preferred by many writers. I write in first person present tense. I find the intimacy of first person blends with the immediacy of present tense, the same way the unlimited view point of third person works well with the flexibility of past tense.


There is no right or wrong when choosing POV and tense, as long as you are consistent in your choice throughout.


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I’ll Write What I Like

I was in a group discussion today about writing novels, editing etc, when someone asked if I’d solely write in first person present tense. The answer is no, I prefer to, but that doesn’t mean I shall always. It was a fair question in a reasonable, I like to think educated, discussion. Then, another party joined the group. Don’t get me wrong, I love it when a discussion snowballs and everyone wants in, but this person wasn’t contributing anything other than forcing their opinions on me.

“Did you know that first person present tense is rated as the least favoured writing tense by readers? they said.

No, I did not. (I will research the truth in that a little later for my own interest.) Joining in a discussion that you weren’t originally a part of with a negative is always disgruntling to me.

“I can’t stand reading anything in first person present tense. If I see that a book is written in first person present tense,  I won’t even read the second sentence. It feels lazy to me.”

Okay, how does this help our discussion. Why does it feel lazy? What is it that irks you so much about it? Valid arguments require valid reasoning. You’re allowed an opinion, but I’m allowed a reason, right?

My reply, “I enjoy being in the MC’s head, and I definitely wouldn’t call it lazy writing. There are pros and cons to writing in any tense or POV. First person present tense is restrictive to time manipulation, and progressing the story whilst keeping it interesting is quite a feat.

“I just can’t help but think that it’s self-absorbed. It’s like the author is the MC and merely acting out their own fantasies.”

Okay, don’t all writers do that to an extent? There is a little piece of me in every character I create- villain, protagonist, dog.

My reply, “I disagree. I love reading narratives in first person present tense, and I think that’s why I naturally write that way too. Each writer has their own style, and each reader has their own taste. To devalue one is pointless because for every person that says they hate a book, there is another who loves it.

“Yes, but like I said, you write in the least favoured writing tense and POV,” they add.

“And?”

“And if you switch to, let’s say, third person past tense, you’d access a bigger target audience.”

“Perhaps, but why would I do that?”

“To make more money.”

Bingo. Now, that is why I’m a writer, and you are not, good sir. I write for the love not the money. I love what I write, and although you may not, there are others who do. (That being said, this guy hasn’t even read my book.)

My reply, “When did we start talking about money?”

BOOM!


All Gifs have been sourced from GIPHY.