Yakkety Yak Sunday Chat: First Person Point of View

Posted January 27, 2013 by Shari in Let's Chat / 0 Comments


Yakkety Yak Let's Chat

Welcome to the first weekend of Yakkety Yak Sunday Chat. Sunday’s will become a day were we talk about things that bother us, trends we see, or just about anything we want to say. So, let’s get too it!

As you grow up and learn through years of English class, you know there are three types of voices: first, second and third. First person is when you reference yourself as I, me, mine, etc. Second is when you use you and yours. Finally, third person is when you use he, she, them, they. Easy to understand, I think?

Through the years, I don’t know if I ever paid attention to the voice used in a story. It just never crossed my mind until I read the Twilight series several years ago and was turned off right away with only seeing into Bella’s mind. It irritated me to no end just how you only got to be in her head the entire story and I got tired of how selfish I really thought she was. Well, this isn’t a review of Twilight, so I am not going to go into it more than to say I am not a fan of the series.

Ever since Twilight though, I have not been able to enjoy a book written in first person. Some novels get around only having one person’s thoughts be part of the story by changing the person each chapter. This is slightly better, but still, I just don’t like it. Why do authors do this? Are they retelling a story of something in their lives? Is it the only way they can get into the characters head is to make themselves to be the character? Why?

Recently I read a harsh story of blackmail. You only saw the side of the person being blackmailed, which I ended up feeling empathy for. But more than that, I wanted to know what was driving the blackmailer? What was he hoping to accomplish? Did he have feelings for her? Was he just using her? I became bored listening to her go on and on about what she was being forced to do. Yes, it was bad, but why was he doing it? So over the course of the story, I started to lose any sympathy for her. I just became numb to the fact he was doing something again and she didn’t like it.

Just like eating the same ice cream, every day, for 20 years, reading the thoughts of one person gets boring. You only see the scenes where the one person is involved. You don’t get a description generally of what that person looks like unless they are talking about themselves. Hard to throw in you have blond hair and blue eyes or a birth mark on your hip without it seeming a little weird at times.

What I have found is that there are several plots generally to the book. It’s harder to see the underlying plots of the bad guy or the love interest if all you see or hear is the perspective of one person. I want to see the intrigue of a story, the underlying plots that are just waiting surprise you with their meaning.

This isn’t an essay on why or why not to use a certain point of view. I just wanted to express my feelings on why I don’t care for first person views. Nothing turns me off a book faster than opening the book and seeing I every other line. Just my thoughts.

What do you think? Let’s chat about it. Maybe I am missing something important here?

Yakkety Yak Sunday Chat!


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Shari is the Delighted Reader. Married to her Prince Charming and mother to two Princesses and one Prince. When she is not slaving away as Cinderella she loves to get lost in the pages of a good book. Never without a reading device and a few good paperback books, because she never knows when she might get 5 minutes to read!

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Michelle Kelly @AnotherLookBook

Great discussion point. I love first person point of view but only if the author can do it justice. For instance, Diana Gabaldon, Janet Evanovich and Ilona Andrews all do it masterfully. Now I know that those 3 authors are the big leagues but they are the big leagues for a reason; they know their craft. My least favourite type of point of view style is switching back and forth. In fact, I don’t think I have yet to enjoy one book where the point of view switches back and forth. I love to read a story and I feel… Read more »

Julian Griffith
9 years ago

I don’t mind first-person, if it’s done well. Some of my favorite fantasy novels, Steven Brust’s Dragaera books (the Vlad chronicles, not the Khaavren romances — those second ones are done in a marvelous Dumas pastiche) are written in first person, and Vlad is a terrific character to hang around with. Also, most of the other characters in that are a different species, and it underscores just how alien they are to him, even as he lives as a minority in their world and interacts mostly with them. Emma Bull’s Bone Dance is the same, with an outsider narrator. I… Read more »

Julian Griffith
9 years ago
Reply to  Shari

Two or three POVs is fine for a romance — depending on whether it’s a couple or a menage, or course! For something like a Ken Follett thriller, I greatly enjoy when he switches among multiple characters — The Eye of the Needle had three hero POVs and one villain, and they all worked just fine.

Sophia Rose
9 years ago

Ooh, good choice for a discussion. I know lots of people feel strongly about this. I personally don’t care what person the story is written in (haven’t tried 2nd person so maybe I would about that). What I do care about is the quality of the story. I will say that I do think anyone choosing to write first person particularly with only one first person perspective does gamble that their characters is likeable or sympathetic enough for the reader to stay engaged. There have been many a well-plotted story that I disliked because I couldn’t stand the first person… Read more »

9 years ago

I have to agree 1st person POV is one of by biggest pet peeves too! I’ve read a few that are written well enough that my brain goes on autopilot and I don’t notice the 1st person as much…but those have been few and far between. I’m not sure if my dislike because I grew up reading 3rd person and am just used to it or not. Especially since a lot of popular books recently are 1st person and no one else seems to have an issue with it. (except me) I do think it comes down to the authors… Read more »