There And Draft Again

A Fellowship of Fantasy Writers

Point of View June 8, 2013

Filed under: Writing — thereanddraftagain @ 2:57 pm
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Point of View in fantasy novels traditionally leans towards third person, but it is possible to successfully write a story of this kind from any perspective. No, really, it is! The difficult part is not the actual writing, but deciding which point of view would suit your narrative better. Below, the different POVs are listed out to help you understand them and choose which works for your story:

First Person (Female)- If you’re writing a young adult fantasy, a female main character, narrating from her first person perspective is probably the best choice. Since the audience at this age will mainly be female readers, the inner thoughts, wishes, fears and dreams of a female protagonist should help your readers connect with the MC and the story.

First Person (Male)- If you’re writing a middle grade fantasy, a male main character, narrating from his first person perspective is probably the best choice. Readers at this level are typically boys so a male protagonist will be someone they can immediately connect with. Girls at this age are also very accepting readers and shouldn’t have an issue reading about a boy.

Third Person Limited- Once the narration is given from outside the protagonist, the narrator themselves take on a certain persona. Depending on whether your main character is male or female, the limited view of the narrator will likely mirror characteristics from this person and that can aid a middle grade or young adult audience. In a limited narrative however, they don’t have much personality and are rather much more like an observer standing on your MCs shoulder.

Third Person Omniscient – This perspective is even further removed from your narrator, regardless of their sex and tends to work best for adult readers. As an omniscient narrator, they can contain their own sort of personality beyond that of the protagonist, or not, it’s your decision. Typically, this kind of narration demands the knowledge of everything in your world and the people within it, so it can create confusion and difficulty in keeping secrets.

No matter which narrative style you choose, be sure that it is the right choice for your novel, your main character and your audience. Of course, any of these can be used in any genre or category of fantasy, the aforementioned groups are only a suggestion.

Sometimes writers have a favorite point of view to use, what’s yours?

~Rachel H


Fantasy Writing and the Epic Too Many Characters/POVs Issue January 27, 2013

Obviously, since I am a contributor to this blog, I tend to lean toward writing Epic Fantasy. The manuscript I am currently working on is the first in what might turn out to be a six book series (or more if the plots don’t stop rolling out of my head). One trend for epic fantasy tends to be that we have a lot of characters, especially when it comes to series. My story is centered around five main characters, but there are plenty of other characters that play important roles as well. Writing with this many characters hasn’t really been an issue for me. No, what I am talking about when I say the Epic Issue of Too Many Characters or POVs is more on the marketing side of writing.

When I ventured into the serious side of writing last year after having completed the first drafts of books one and two of my series, I was startled by the amount of advice people give you without first reading your book. People guffawed when they found that my main characters totaled to five and that there were plenty of other POVs from which my story is told (eleven to be exact). I was told to narrow it down to three MCs and definitely tell the story solely from their POVs instead of the other characters. My query letter mentioned the five girls by name and I was advised to cut it down to one or two, even though they all have vital roles in the introductory book. When I did this, I found that people who read the query and the first five chapters were confused that the MC mentioned in the query didn’t show back up again until chapter five.

So what did I do? I started cutting characters’ POVs. That eliminated entire story lines that were being set up for the books to come. What does that mean? It compromised my story, which to me is a big no-no. You should never NEVER compromise your story to the point that you can hardly recognize it anymore just for the sake of selling a book (in my humble opinion).

So this leads me to the big dilemma that a lot of epic fantasy writers face: How many characters are too many? At what point should we draw the line while trying to follow the unspoken rules of the literary marketing world?

My answer: If done right, there is no such thing as too many characters or too many characters’ POVs in a book, especially epic fantasy.

Obviously, when dealing with POV, you should keep to third person limited. First person when dealing with a lot of characters can be really confusing for a reader. I’m not opposed to two POVs with first person, but anymore and I feel a bit discombobulated as a reader. Why go third person limited instead of third person omniscient? Because omniscient, from what I have learned firsthand, usually involves what agents and editors refer to as “head jumping”, which means you are skipping around from different characters heads in different paragraphs. So learn from my mistake since I wrote both books in omniscient and have had to do A LOT of editing to correct this: Stick to limited.

I’d like to leave you with some examples of epic fantasy books that have more than one characters’ POV and do just fine. You might recognize these from the best sellers’ list, which to me is proof that if you do it right, having multiple characters and multiple story arcs can still make for compelling and not confusing stories.

~~Mara Valderran