A while ago I changed the first 12 chapters of my science fiction novel Flight of the Kestrel: Intruders to first person point of view (POV). It was an experiment for two reasons:
- I needed to get more feeling into it, get inside my characters’ heads.
- I had never written fiction in first person POV and I wanted to try it.
I think it worked, and my book is the better for it, but it was a lot of work because the book was already written in third person POV – a narrator. Changing it over was a lot of work, which is why I only changed the first part, to see how it went. I achieved the aim of getting more inside my characters’ heads, but I didn’t like using first person POV, so I’m changing it all back again, but keeping the improvements. That’s also a lot of work, and showed me what I had sacrificed in order to tell the story in the first person.
- Any activity that took place without the POV character being there couldn’t be told, unless they found out about it later.
- Because I had already written the book, the action took place in several locations at once, so I could only resolve it by huge flashbacks or changing my POV character. I chose to have three POV characters.
- All advice is not to hop between heads in one chapter because it’s too confusing. So I had to rearrange the storytelling in order to stay with the same character for a whole chapter.
- Some scenes that would not logically be told to someone later had to be removed. (NOTE: Save everything!)
- You don’t get to find out how anyone else is feeling in a scene unless it’s obvious by their actions or demeanour or they tell you. I ended up writing a lot of things like, “I don’t think he’ll be very pleased about that.”
- Going back to the manuscript after some time, I could see that it had suffered from this butchery. I’m now busy finding the bits I deleted and rearranged and putting them back.
I’ve learned a lot from this experience, and don’t regret it at all. I do think that if you’re going to use first person POV, you should do it from the start. But changing POV has highlighted some of the problems for me.
Do you have any advice about handling first person POV? I’d love it if you shared it in the comments.