Points of view

Here’s an article from the Times Book Review about the return of the omniscient point of view in fiction:

Most 19th-­century novelists didn’t try to hide their authorial presence. With modernism’s emphasis on the self and the rendering of individual consciousness, omniscience became unfashionable. ­Twentieth-century realists moved closer to their characters and wrote in the first person or limited third.

I have been thinking a lot about point of view lately.  All my novels to date have been told either in the first person or limited third-person (where you can have multiple points of view, but you’re only in one person’s point of view for any one scene).  All of them, that is, until Terra, where ninety percent of the novel is told in the first person, and then in the final chapter I switch to limited third for two different characters.  I worried about doing this, but I did it to set up the next novel in the sequence, Barbarica, which I’m working on now.

Barbarica is structured as a kind of kaleidoscopic limited-third novel — that is, we shift constantly from one point of view to another as the story progresses.  Will this work?  Dunno.  My writing group, which is experiencing this in real time, is getting antsy to see something from the point of view of my original narrator, Larry Barnes.  So, I have finally reached him in the sequence I’ve vaguely laid out, and suddenly I don’t know how to proceed.  Should I go back into his familiar first-person narrative style?  Or should we encounter Larry for the first time in limited third?  I think the decision will be fairly important to the reader’s experience of the story.

So now I’ll end this blog post and make the call.

Writing is hard, by the way.

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