Exciting news: I’ve written the first scene of what will hopefully be my next manuscript, a little project I’m affectionately referring to as BUS WIP!!! (yep, with three exclamation points–not sure why, but every time I type BUS WIP!!! they’re there).
I’ve actually written this first scene twice. I’m experimenting, you see, with the POV I want to use for the story. I’m pretty sure I want to “hop heads” and my original instinct was to do dual first person POVs. Now, I’m not so sure. I’m starting to think that close third person might be more effective and, and I don’t know… professional sounding? The problem is this: I’ve always sort of thought I was incapable of writing in third person and honestly, I have a bit of an attitude about third person in general, especially in YA books. Often, it feels too distant.
Recently thought, I read Lisa McMann’s CRYER’S CROSS. In it, she used third-person, present tense and I thought it worked brilliantly. The right amount of distance for a creepy, horror kind of story, and an urgent, quick pace that worked really well for the subject matter.
While BUS WIP!!! is no horror story, I do intend for it to have short, suspenseful, action-packed scenes and a fast pace (whether I will actually pull this off is to be determined :)). So, present tense feels right. And shockingly, so does the close third person POV, but only after I wrote this first scene in first person, then converted it to third.
Confused yet? Here are the first few (tentative) sentences of BUS WIP!!! –
In first person, present tense:
When I first notice Jace Bryant peeking at my Chem test, I can’t quite believe it. He’s supposed to be this all-around brilliant guy—Mr. Upstanding. He always seems to know everything, excels at anything he attempts. He wouldn’t possibly copy off me. Would he?
But then he does it again, this subtle stretch of his neck that allows him the perfect view of my test packet. He makes a mark on his paper, taps his pencil eraser on the desk a few times, then goes about the whole show again. Jesus! He is copying.
And in third person, present tense:
When Lia Bonelli first notices Jace Bryant peeking at her Chem test, she can’t quite believe it. He’s supposed to be this all-around brilliant guy—Mr. Upstanding. She’s sure this is some kind of fluke; Jace always seems to know everything. He excels at anything he attempts. He wouldn’t possibly copy off Lia. Would he?
But then he does it again, this subtle stretch of his neck that allows him the perfect view of her test packet. He makes a mark on his paper, taps his pencil eraser on the desk a few times, then goes about the whole show again. Jesus! Lia thinks, enraged. He is copying.
So? Opinions? Which POV works better based on these little samples? Which POV do you prefer when you’re writing?
In case you’re interested in reading more about the positives and negatives of different POVs, here are a few links that discuss the subject in greater detail:
Tara K. Harper’s First Person or Third
Novel-Writing-Help.com’s First vs. Third Person Point of View
Janice Hardy’s First Vs. Third: Point of View and Character Development
Ingrid Sundberg’s Five Advantages of Third Person Omniscient POV
James Scott Bell’s Understanding the Effects of Your POV
Write It Sideways Which is Best: First or Third Person Point of View?
Tami Moore’s Close Third Person Point of View (I found this one particularly helpful.)