Writing Schedule and 1st Person vs 3rd Person POV

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Earlier today, I was asked how I find time to write with my busy schedule. He also asked my opinion regarding 1st person POV versus 3rd person POV. Here are my responses:


Sitting down (butt in chair, so to speak) at regular periods to write a novel has never been something I've been able to do. My work schedule and family responsibilities have never allowed it. So, I work on my novels sporadically, whenever I get a chance, and often the muse is just not there. At times I’ve had to just do it anyway. Having to post 2 to 4 chapters per month on a critique board helps force me.

I'm not advocating that approach, just complaining that I'm stuck in a rut of wishing I could have a certain, dedicated writing time, but not being able. Still, I'm proof that it can work, assuming you're willing to take 20 years to complete your first novel like I've done with "Sweet Revenge." I have to admit, however my second novel, "GRETA!", is going a lot faster. I’m about 5 or 6 chapters from finishing it, and I’ve already written the last chapter.

As for first person versus third, that's a tough one. Both POVs have their pluses and minuses. It depends on how much you need to get into the head of the main character, and can you do that in third person? In my opinion, I think you can, but it's a lot harder to truly make the reader feel what the main character is feeling in third person. I wrote "Sweet Revenge" in third person because I felt a need to get into the heads of several of the characters, including the antagonist. I'm writing "GRETA!” in first person because I didn't feel the need to get into anyone else's head. The protagonist is the only one I need to express what I'm trying to get across.

Just as a side note: I posted the first few chapters of "GRETA!" on a message board and just got a great compliment from a guy who just read it. It sounded true to him, and he could feel how some kids feel about the under-privileged. I think first person is working well here.

However, with “Sweet Revenge” the main comments I’ve gotten (from agents) is that they did not like my narrative voice. Hmm. That means third person isn’t working as well as I’d like. It’s a lot more difficult to get into the heads of third person characters. Still, I do not think it is impossible. Just difficult.
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About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Monday, June 04, 2007

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  1. I did end up sticking with the first person. Partly because I'm lazy, but mostly because I like the feel of it, and the voice I'm *trying* to create.

  2. Hey Paul! Just poppin in to say hi... and to let you know that we ARE reading your blog!!