I was musing the other day on the whole PoV thing. I like writing in 1st. I *can* write in 3rd, but I just prefer 1st for some reason. This new book I’m working on is actually in 1st person present – again, I’m not sure why, and I don’t know if it will stay that way. Just seems to be the way it wants to come out and I’ve learned it’s not worth fighting the muse over.
I always hear that writing in 1st person is risky since a lot of people don’t seem to care for it. Maybe it’s the limited information or the “I did x” lines that tend to get on people’s nerves. Personal preference is what it is, but one thing I sometimes wonder is if readers tend to be harsher on the protags of a 1st person story.
Books are often escapist, and I sort of suspect that having a 1st person leads into a bit of self-insertion on the part of the reader, even if it’s not on purpose. Maybe I’m completely off the mark there, but often when I see reviews on books written in 1st (not just mine, ha ha), I see comments about how many dumb things the protag did, for example. And I don’t see that as much with books written in 3rd.
In the gaming world, particularly RPGs where you can make decisions that affect a game, the player becomes the protag. In theory, they’re supposed to make decisions based on how they’re playing the character – but a lot of times players will choose certain paths simply to get the “best ending” or to force a certain outcome. This is known as meta-gaming – e.g. the player already knows the circumstances and what’s going to happen, as opposed to the character, who doesn’t.
(And hell, every gamer I know does that to an extent – we want to romance a certain character, or defeat a particular bad guy, or whatever it is, so it’s not like that’s some sort of flaw.)
But when it comes to books, readers obviously can’t influence what a character is going to do (unless it’s one of those choose-your-adventure things, ha ha). Maybe we can put the big picture together faster than the character – solve the mystery, ping who the bad guy is, whatever. Sort of like watching a horror movie and yelling at the screen when the scantily clad non-virgin goes down into the basement to check out what that thumping sound is.
So I think sometimes as readers we forget that the protags *aren’t* us. Even though *we* might make a decision differently based on things *we* know or our life experiences, the characters don’t always have that same bit of insight. So she skips down at that basement and says “Hello? Joey is that you? Quit playing games, asshole!” to the muffled-breathing maniac looming in the corner. And then gets her head chopped off.
So we see phrases like “too stupid to live” popping up frequently. And yeah, maybe those characters *are* TSTL – but if the book is written in 3rd, the reader has a chance to bond with some other character that might be more to their taste.
Anyway, just an observation. What do you think? Do you find yourself grinding your teeth in frustration more at 1st person protags?
Today’s Blog Tour Link: Between Dreams and Reality