Monday, June 21, 2010

"My" point of view

I'm beginning to plot out a novel I've been planning. Yesterday, I wrote a short story in preparation for this work. The challenge that I face, and for which I was practicing, is the challenge of the first person narrative.

I love first person narratives. Some of my favorite books are Bernard Cornwell's Saxon Stories, told from the point of view of Uhtred the Saxon in Dark Ages Britain. The viewpoint delivers a lush sense of the world by way of Uhtred's divulgences, which permit us access to his view of the sacred, of politics, and of life. The first person narrative brings the story into a relief that feels inaccessible to the third person viewpoint; the depth of the narrative revelation brings us into closer contact with the subject of the story, allowing us to encounter them much more personally.

But even more than reading them, I love to write first person narratives. Perhaps it is my background as a roleplayer, an avid consumer of Dungeons, Dragons, and all other manner of evil foibles--and, consequently, a frequent creator of deep and interesting characters which I directed to act and to speak as thought I were them. From hard-boiled detectives to bumbling wizards, I've played--and will write--them all.

Nonetheless, I find this kind of story very challenging to write--especially when I am undertaking a novel-length project. The restriction of one viewpoint rules out the use of various dramatic literary devices; and maintaining suspense and interest over a long period of time, without changing viewpoints, can be difficult. I can only hope that my practice has served me well, and that the new sheriff in town--my new first person character--doesn't fall flat on his face in the dust!

Wish me luck,


1 comment:

  1. I love first-person narratives as well, but I find that they're much harder to pull off, and third person has evolved over the years so much that by now the differences between the two viewpoints is miniscule.

    I prefer to write in the third person, but both viewpoints certainly have their own unique advantages and stylistic quirks.