POV differences per genre

Monday, May 18, 2009
Have you ever noticed that some genres favor one POV over another?

Speculative fiction, for instance, seems to gravitate toward first person. My genre, fantasy, seems more 3rd person oriented.

Why do you think this is? The only conclusion I can come up with is that first person feels more intimate, while third can step further back, but I could be entirely wrong.

Right now, I'm working on a fantasy based off of something similar to Scotland in the 1400's. And I'm writing it in first person. I'm not sure if I'm breaking some unwritten rule, or simply doing something that doesn't work.

So I'd love to start a discussion here. What POV do you use? Do you think one POV is better for one genre versus another?

6 comments:

  1. Barb said...:

    I write in the third person. I tried writing in first person, but it just didn't work out for me - I found it very restrictive.

    It felt a lot better to put my third person view back on. For some reason I felt like I had to say what the lead character was thinking and feeling all the time when writing in first person. I find it easier to show in the third person.

  1. Wendy said...:

    I use first person often. I think it helps me crawl inside the character's heads more to do so, but I'm playing with something new now.
    ~ Wendy

  1. I usually always write third person limited. I've never noticed that one genre is one over the other, except that YA seems to favor first person.

    I've always wanted to try all the different POVs. Eventually I'll get there. :)

  1. Barb: So you found it easier to step back, go from deep to distant POV. I've found with 1st person that I can have my character generalize to move things faster. But that leads to other questions: Active v passive voice/ show v tell. I'm planning to do another post dealing with it.

    Wendy: I've found 1st easier in some ways because it has clear rules. You can't head hop and it's easier to stay with your voice. WHat are you trying now?

    Glamis: It's fun to switch around, but if you edit more than one in a day, it gets confusing!

    So do you all think 1st person would work for a rustic setting with a fantasy? I guess my question is that 1st feels more personal, more relatable because it's like we're listening to the MC tell her story. While 3rd is more like we're watching it unfold from. Distance being the key. Is 1st too close, creating too much dichotomy between reader and character that are so widely different?
    I really can't remember any fantasies with similiar settings that use 1st. It's making me question myself.

  1. Anthony said...:

    I write in the POV the story dictates I use.

    How do I know which one I need to be using?

    I don't know.

  1. I do a close third-- one head per scene.

    I've gotten to where I instantly mistrust 1st in what I read unless the story grabs me instantly.

    I read somewhere once that 1st person can disguise a weak voice or story longer than 3rd can, and it erked me to notice the observation was correct. I felt so manipulated ;o)

    About the 3rd in fantasy-- I imagine when youre trying to find your balance in a new world you are looking for stable landmarks. A horizon line if you will.

    With first person, especially with modern writing, you're flying on instruments, and not the kind you got to calibrate. I don't read that way very much. I like to fully know what I'm getting into.

    But I'll admit to I'm very controlling in general.

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