It’s not “you.” It’s me. I mean “I.” My Top 3 Reasons Why I’m Not a Fan of 1st Person POV.
Do you have a POV preference when you read a book? I do. After the third free read download I grabbed from Amazon.com this past week, I was a little disappointed when I finally sat down to start reading. Each of the books were written in a point of view that I have an extremely hard time wanting, and willing, to read stories written in: The first person.
Is there anything wrong with writing in the first person, or enjoying a story from the “I” stance? Absolutely not!!
I realize that my feelings reflect my personal preference, and therefore, can be subjective, but I also find that there are objective reasons as to why I have issues with pushing myself to read a book written in first person. You see, the last handful of books that I’ve attempted to read from the first person point of view really left a bad taste for my literary palate. There were some serious content and writing issues that really destroyed what could have been (for all I know) great stories.
My Top 3 Reasons Why I’m Not a Fan of 1st Person POV
The POV Switch-Up
The most recent book that I downloaded that was written in first person was a huge disappointment, and what prompted me to write this post. I didn’t even make it past the first chapter before I was all sorts of lost and confused due to switching between POVs.
As a refresher:
1st Person Point of View (Narrator as a participant):
The narrator is cast in the role of a participant, such as speaking from the view point of a protagonist, and who says “I.” The narrator can also be cast in the role as an observer, such as speaking from the view point of a minor character standing off to the side and telling the story that they are ‘seeing’ unfold.
3rd Person Point of View (Narrator as a non-participant):
The narrator is “all knowing” and therefore not cast in the role of a character. The narrator can essentially see into the thoughts and minds of more than one character and refers to characters as “he,” “she,” or “they.” They could alternately see into the mind of one major character, one minor character, or remain objective (not seeing into the thoughts of any characters).
There is also a 2nd Person Point of View, which uses the pronouns you or your, but quite frankly, I have yet to stumble upon a novel written in this POV and therefore chose not to talk about it. If you want more info, you can check out Wikipedia‘s site.
The issue that I had with this most recent book was that the author would use the word “I” in one moment, then shift out of participant mode into non-participant role. Now granted, I’m aware there are exceptions to this rule, as well as additional literary POVs to consider (such as omniscient and limited omniscient). But in the case of this particular book, the author started off the book in the mind of the heroine then a few paragraphs later jumped outside of the heroine’s thoughts and viewed the world “all knowingly.”
The How-in-the-hell-do-you-know-that Game Changers
This is probably my number one pet peeve. This is also where a good content editor could beneficially come in and magically assist with cleaning up very important details that contribute to the believability, flow, and overall quality writing. The details I’m talking about, again, are determined by the role of the narrator. If the narrator is in the “body” of a specific character, how can they “see” details on their person that couldn’t normally be seen without a mirror?
For example, unless a character is looking in the mirror and describing what they’re seeing about their physical selves, I highly doubt that they can have an out-of-body experience to notice that their lips are swollen and red from all the passionate kissing they just came up for air from. Or that their eyes reflected a specific mood, etcetera.
The Missing ‘Other Half’
And my number one reason why I have a hard time wanting to read a book written in first person …
The hero’s (or the heroine’s for that matter) POV is missing.
I LOVE my heroes. I want to know what’s in their heads too. I feel like getting the POVs of both characters (hero and heroine) in a romance story is essential – at least to me – for really connecting with the crucial romance aspect of the story.
Maybe it’s a genre thing. I don’t know. Now-a-days I tend to read almost exclusively in the romance genre, so maybe I wouldn’t mind the missing other if it was in a different genre.
What are your feelings? Do you have a POV preference? Do you find POV disclosure useful information when reading a review?