What’s your point of view?

NaNoWriMo winner's certificate
My certificate for writing 50,000 words of a novel in November for the writing challenge called NaNoWriMo.

I’ve been thinking about the project I began for my first NaNoWriMo writing challenge. After the New Year, I plan to dive in and rewrite it. Currently, the story is told in first person of the protagonist who is loosely based on me. I’ve been musing about how I need to make the plot more exciting — but then I began thinking about point of view. I think that’s where I need to start.

The premise is three women and their young children who are peacefully enjoying their quiet lives when the antagonist, an eccentric, larger-than-life character, whirls into their lives creating drama and upheaval. I think telling the entire tale from one character’s perspective is monotonous. It limits the story, because you only know what one person sees and how they interpret people and events.

I dusted off Liane Moriarity’s “Big Little Lies” which I read years ago and discovered that the chapters are told from the POV of Madeline, Jane and Celeste — in third person. It isn’t told from one woman’s point of view at all. If you haven’t read it or watched the TV show, it’s also a story of friendships of mothers of young children.

When I first began writing years ago, my writing mentor Gerry Petievich who wrote “To Live and Die in L.A.” held writer’s conferences. He said to pick out a book as a pattern book when you begin to write a novel. He said you don’t copy it. What I took away from him is that you analyze different things that work in that book such as plot structure, voice and characters. I realized that “Big Little Lies” can fill that role for my project.

Gerry Petievich "To Live and Die in L.A."

I think by alternating the POV to each of the main characters, it will add depth. I’ll need to give each character their own voice and I’ll have to flesh out their lives much deeper than they are now — which currently are only snippets of their lives seen by the protagonist. I’m not sure if I should alternate first person voice or use third person omniscient point of view like “Big Little Lies.” I tend to favor writing in first person.

When you are reading or writing, what point of view do you prefer? First or third person? What is your opinion of books that alternate points of views of characters each chapter? Do you find switching POV is confusing or do you think it adds to the story?

Have you read “Big Little Lies” or “To Live and Die in L.A.?” Have you seen the TV show or movie?.

Big Little Lies book by Liane Moriarty.
Cover of Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty.

13 thoughts on “What’s your point of view?

  1. I prefer third person…an outsider looking in and narrating, but with 1st person dialogue. Books that alternate points of view, especially from alternating characters, can become a little too confusing at times, and since I read for pleasure, confusing does not work for me.

  2. I haven’t read “Big Little Lies”, but I did see the TV show. I thought it was really interesting. I like the way the characters came to life as they each took their turn being the ‘primary’ and I got to see their lives and stories. I think that is an amazing ‘example book’. It is unique and will set your story apart. I’m so excited to read it some day!

  3. Love big little lies. I think it depends on the skill of the writer as to how it works…a good writer can make it sing, a bad writer can make it sink. I’m working on something now where I switch pov….I think it’s working…

  4. I like the switching of POV only if enough time is spent on each POV prior to the switch and if there is flow between the different POVs ..otherwise it feels like too much bouncing around. I like the idea of a pattern book – makes a lot of sense.

  5. Alternating the POV seems to be a bit of a trend lately (or maybe I’ve just started to notice it more). I think it can work really well and I enjoy understanding the motivations and reactions of each of the main characters more. I also find that I look forward to reading certain POVs over others as I work my way through the novel.

    So far, all of my short stories have been written in the third person. It just feels more natural to me. I do want to try one in the first person one of these days just to see how it feels, where it takes my story, and if I like it.

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