You, Me, Or Someone Else
(Choosing A View Point)
It is time to decide if it is you, me, or someone else. Now, we aren’t here to assign blame; it is time to pick a point of view.
In a recent post (Delving Into The Black Abyss,) I mentioned that I was considering trying my hand at writing horror. To get an idea on ambiance, I have been reading tales from Ambrose Bierce, H.P. Lovecraft, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and, yes, Edgar Allan Poe. (There are others, but this gives you an idea.)
Aside from ambiance, I am also trying to decide on which point of view (POV) to use. I have used them all, and I am fairly comfortable with each. Each point of view has its benefits and drawbacks. (Keep in mind that the following is my personal opinion on the pros and cons of the various points of view.)
I currently have a first draft of a novel finished that was written in an alternating first person point of view. It was for a writing course and, according to my instructor, I managed to pull it off with no confusion as to who was speaking. While it worked for me in this instance, I found it challenging when it came to describing appearances of the main characters. Since the protagonists were teens, however, there was no need to get over-technical on equipment because the actual names weren’t known to them.
Next, let’s take a moment and talk about the third person point of view. For me, this is both a curse and a blessing. The blessing is I can add as much detail as I want; the curse is I can add as much detail as I want. My problem is knowing when to add more information or recognizing when I have revealed too much. I am constantly asking myself if my protagonist, or antagonist, would honestly know or even notice everything described. Still, there is a certain allure to being omniscient.
In the first person POV, I can imagine what I would see and logically eliminate what I wouldn’t see. I can describe something without knowing what its maker called it and, hopefully, let you figure out what I am looking at. The drawback is the unknown. Depending on the genre, there are clues that you just can’t reveal because you wouldn’t know what they are, yet they could provide the reader with a necessary bit of information.
The final point of view I want to mention is the seldom-used second person POV. It is recommended that you shouldn’t begin your career as a novelist with this point of view. Since my intention, however, is merely a short story or three, the temptation is hard to resist. There is something about pulling the reader in on a personal level and playing with his or her emotions. I can hint at some unnamed horror, or I can jump out of the darkness and shout “boo.” Success could be a major boost to my writing options (and my ego;) failure could ruin a potentially good story.
So, there are my basic choices. Which should I choose? Let me just say if you hear something go bump in the night, it might be me.
Just thought I would jot this down.