POV and genre

Tuesday, May 19, 2009
This is such a complex, fascinating issue. I'm loving it.

Okay, so the question is does POV matter per genre (different genres favor different POVs. As I mentioned before, speculative fiction uses 1st a lot. Epic fantasies use deep 3rd--I can't think of even one example of an epic in 1st).

I asked a writer friend of mine, Dave Wolverton (w/a Dave Farland ). Here's his answer: "In most genres, third person with deep penetration is the best way to go. Rarely do we see fantasies in first person."

BUT WHY! I've already speculated that it's because the characters lives are so different that 3rd feels more realistic. So what do you think? Would 1st in an epic fantasy throw you off, or would it be different enough to draw your interest?

If you want to be the recipient of Dave's years of experience for free email him at dwolvert@xmission.com and say, "Kick me!"


  1. Fantasy requires world-building and world-building is both easier to read and write, I suspect, in third.

    BUT, isn't Jennifer Roberson's Sword Dancer in first person POV (Tiger's?).

    And isn't that series set in such a kick-ass fantasy world?

    I could be wrong. Memory fuzzy.

    My YA fantasy novel is third person, limited. Like, really tightly wound to the main character with few exceptions.

  1. I should probably clarify that 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Person are a part, not the entirety, of POV--the terms aren't synoymous. IMO, POV encompasses who's head we're in as well as Person.

    Anthony: I haven't read Sword Dancer--putting it on my list. Thanks.
    Any thoughts as why it's easier to read in 3rd?

  1. I think, in the end, the Person Tense doesn't matter to me. As long as it's written well, it shouldn't matter what genre it's attached to, right?

    And if people think Fantasy doesn't work well in 1st person, that's just a wide door open for somebody to prove them wrong. I'm always looking for those open doors. I like to slip in discreetly, take a seat, and see what happens. Not that I'll be attempting Fantasy in 1st Person. I have other doors, though.

    I'm wondering the same thing about Anthony's comment - why he suspects world building is easier in third. Is it because there's a more omniscient POV? But if his novel is tightly limited, is that too far off from first person?

  1. Glamis: Maybe we need to pool resources here. You could ask the people on your blog or the lab blog--whichever, or neither. I think the question is worth exploring. Let me know.

  1. not certain about "the" answer, but i do know that as a youngster I shied away from first person because it often sounded overbearing & know-it-all... i think anything well done will conquer whatever obstacles...

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