This week we’re talking about narrative point of view, a topic close to my rotten, diseased heart. My nearest and dearest will tell you that there is nothing I love more than annoying the living bejeezus out of readers by using an atypical POV.
Mind you, this only really works (for me) in short fiction. With novels, I always gravitate toward first-person. But more on that later. First, let me brag about my bad-ass POV-fu, and how annoying it is. I swear, sometimes I think I’m going to get myself knifed! Like the time I opened a story with a long passage in second-person future subjunctive. (“If you were to go downtown on a Saturday, maybe you’d be looking for this particular corner…then if you were to knock on the door and say, ‘I’m here to annoy readers’…”)
You woulda thought I’d just been caught in public badmouthing Joss Whedon!
Of course, far more common is my fondness for second-person. I love this shit, because it calls into question who exactly the viewpoint character is. My love of second-person narration is well known among my small circle of beta readers. (I even co-wrote two romantic books all in second-person.) Lots of people hate that.
Then, of course, there’s the fact that I love present tense. That’s not POV, but it certainly relates directly to it; tense and POV are the two most central (and easily variable) things about any piece of fiction writing.
Well, present tense may be popular with MFA students and lit professors, as proof that a work is “literary.” It may be a beloved variation that I gallop to whenever I get bored. But to read online forums, this absolutely flips many genre readers out. And yet, you’ll find it laced throughout my very favorite period of literature, the science fiction New Wave of the 1960s. There, experimenting with format was one of the new innovations that some of SF’s most brilliant writers brought to the table, and it set the groundwork for the vast expansion of SF as a literary genre. (more…)Read More...