View Full Version : First person romance for new writers

04-06-2006, 09:09 PM

I was somewhere on this big forum asking about first person POV and you had left a message that if written well, first person can work with a strong voice, and you also mentioned Touch of Evil.

Now I can't find that message. Do you happen to remember where it is?

I'm an aspiring to be published author and have an idea to write first person POV for both the hero and the heroine. As I'm a beginner, though I've written a few novels, I wonder if I lessen my chances to be published trying this in the early stages of my writing career. Doubts abound in me. I have written first person before. Only in the heroine's first person POV. One was even a requested full from Silhouette Bombshell, Julie Barrett, rejected eventually.

It's an idea I have to write a romantic suspense for Tor, as I see Anna Genoese is looking for some.

What do you think? I'm picking up your Touch of Evil from the bookstore today!!

And I'm probably on the wrong thread here. If so, I apologize

Cathy C
04-07-2006, 03:06 AM
Okay, now that we're on the other thread, I'll answer this question.

I don't think it's IMPOSSIBLE to sell a first person romance novel as your first book (since that's exactly what we did!) But first person is a lot trickier to pull off than writers realize. Moving the plot forward in a realistic way when the person doesn't know what's behind the next door, or what happened after s/he closed the PREVIOUS door is . . . well, hard. There's also the issue of not having every sentence start with "I did this" or "I thought that."

It's not particularly difficult for me, because that's how I think. But doing first person from BOTH the hero and heroine might be a bit too ambitious until you're certain you can manage it. You'll have to be very careful to decide which person to follow in a scene so you don't wind up "head hopping."

Personally, I LOVE writing in first person because you have that strong emotional tie to the hero/heroine. You feel what they do from every touch of the other person's hand to tingles from a whisper in the ear. But, like I say, it's difficult. Even our editor was reluctant to accept three books in first person, and insisted that our fourth and fifth books be in third. (Although she has admitted that she misses the first person ;) , so the next one gets to be in first again! Woo!)

Readers will love you forever if you can do it, but you might have to struggle to find an editor who loves it enough to get it TO the readers.

Anyone here have any experience with the major pubs (other than Tor) and how they feel about first? Susan? Annie?

04-07-2006, 06:35 AM
Thanks, Cathy, for starting a new thread. Why didn't I think of that? Sometimes I really am slow on here...but I do appreciate this forum!

I understand about the reluctance of editors and readers to accept first person point of view, although I believe it's more popular now then it has been for a long time.

I also understand (notice the first person I, I, ... lol) it can be tricky, and should be watched for things like boring.

If as you say Tor is perhaps relucant to accept too many first person POV submissions, I have even a less chance because I'm not published.

I think I'll keep at the 3rd person POV...I'm accustomed to first person, but I do need to try 3rd person.

However, I am interested to hear from anyone else on the forum :)

It's Tor I'd like to submit to right soon...

Thanks, Cathy. I admire your work :)

Kasey Mackenzie
04-07-2006, 07:51 PM
I used to hate first person. Hated reading it and hated even more writing in it. But then I developed a passion for urban fantasy and paranormal romance. First person is uber popular in these genres and first person quickly grew on me. I love being in the mindset of a strong, feisty character who is also flawed and seeing how they react to the world around them. Especially when they're thrown into the middle of fantastical or paranormal happenings. Love it!

My first finished adult novel was an urban fantasy in third person. My last WIP, a paranormal romance, was in first person and I just loved writing in that POV. My current is another paranormal and again I am enjoying the first person POV.

That said, I don't have any specific information on editor preferences, but I have read a lot in the genre and definitely see a majority done in first person.

Lady Cat
04-11-2006, 09:41 PM
As you can see I'm pretty new to the board but I thought I'd throw my two cents in. You might want to try reading Katie MacAlister's vampire series - they're all written in the first person and they're a hoot as well. The publishing house is Love Spell, Dorchester Publishing.

I once had a story that just didn't seem to work until someone suggested I try writing it in first person and it was so much better! You could always pick a chapter and write it both ways, then compare them to see which works out better for you.

Best of luck!

Lady Cat

04-11-2006, 09:44 PM
I personally like writing first person as well....I would have to agree with Cathy, that you feel more emotionally tied to the main character--you get inside their head, feel what they're feeling, ect.

04-11-2006, 10:12 PM
Hi...Thanks Lady Cat and Aspiring Writer:

I totally agree with you on the first person, especially in paranormal. I write in it often and it is difficult to get into 3rd person again. It's my passion the first person. I've read a lot of Katie McAlister's books...love them.

But I've decided to try a romantic suspense to submit to Tor's Anna Genoese. I think you'll see the guidelines on this forum if you do a search. She's also requesting paranormal romance, but I like the idea of what she wants for romantic suspense if you read her request. Anna also has a blog.

Soooo...my romantic suspense n4eeds the voices of both the hero and and the heroine, which are very importortant to the way I present the story. Being an aspiring writer myself, in a way I don't want to lessen my odds. At first I thought oh egads 3rd person pov reads so weak, but tweaking over it, you know jazzing up the emotions et al, so that now it reads better, I think this just might work out. At least that's what I think today. I might submit some of it for critique on the thread for that on Absolute Write.

Oh, also note Anna wants the fulls by October. Burning rubber here.

Thanks, gals. :)

04-11-2006, 11:24 PM
I'm never one to say you can't do anything. You can if you DO - if you pull it off and it works. Unfortunately as writers we often are too close to the work to know if a technique really works. So you probably need to write some chapters and get some feedback from a critique group before you really make up your mind.

As for first person with 2 characters, that's a toughie. It's been done, 1st person/multiple POVs but it's very difficult because it tends to remind the reader they are reading or confuse them or make them lose interest when the switch comes. It is also difficult to sustain tension when you move from one head to another in first person.

Luanne Jones (Heathen Girls - Mira)

04-12-2006, 05:25 AM
Luanne: As for first person with 2 characters, that's a toughie. It's been done, 1st person/multiple POVs but it's very difficult because it tends to remind the reader they are reading or confuse them or make them lose interest when the switch comes. It is also difficult to sustain tension when you move from one head to another in first person

Oh goodness. No, I meant I'm going for the good old fashioned 3rd person pov, in both the hero and heroine's voices. !! Thanks for your support though. :)

I don't think I could handle 2 first person POV's in one story :D yet in my career.

Of course, I don't know for sure...but I'm enjoying writing the story in the 3rd persons pov anyway.

04-12-2006, 07:05 AM
You are most certainly welcome Josie....I just wish that I could start writing something and stick with it. I always start and stop things but never finish them. Maybe it's b/c my brain is scattered all over the place, and that I have so many story ideas floating around. :) Good luck with your story though and let us know how things turn out.

04-13-2006, 07:33 AM
that's my problem, i get in the mood to write something, then i get an idea for something else. i'm the king of the unwritten story.

i'm not sure i could handle a novel with multiple first-person. as mentioned, it reminds the reader they're reading. plus, that smacks of just being gimmicky. then again, i wear two crowns, the second being 'master of the cliffhanger.' not sure if that counts as being gimmicky or not, lol.

i just wanted to chime in real fast (this is real fast for me) and mention that one of my pet peeves is reading 'i' too much. fortunately, those can be worked out in most cases. i wrote a substantial amount of a first-person novel (abandonned due to lack of personal interest) where i didn't use 'i' one single time except in dialogue. if you ask me it didn't turn out terrible, though seriously i'd go back and put some in. the idea is that 'they must have wondered what I was thinking' easily becomes 'they must have wondered what was going through my mind.' sometimes it just takes a bit of a different arrangement of the sentence if you want to drop an 'i'.

i've always heard that first person is the amateur's choice of pov's. while i don't agree that first-person is amateurish, i wonder if there's some validity to this statement. i wonder, and this isn't a theory, just something that popped into my head right now, if it's easily for an editor to reject a first-person than a third? that is, are there more tell-tale signs of a poor quality story in first than third?

04-15-2006, 09:17 PM
Hey Gals:

You've been so supportive to my dilemma with my first person pov vs. third person pov---that now I've decided to go to an already drafted paranormal story, that needs work. And guess what...it's first person pov...I have had this published as a short story and have been trying to extend it to at least a novella. Well, that's been done and now I think I'll shoot for a novel length.
It's a kind of episodic story which may or may not be good, but in any event I love writing it.

I'll have to embellish and make the characters more 3 dimensional, according to the heroine who is the narrator. They're not human but have human feelings, more or less.http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/wink.gif

I know there are many ways to make the story less "self centred" and focus on the other characters too so I'll be using those. It's obvious the male of the various species in my story certainly are "self-centred" enough--a common trait of the male of any species.

It's just under 50% love story too.

Am I destined to write paranormal forever? Could be, lol

Thanks again.http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/biggrin.gif

04-17-2006, 12:58 AM
I enjoy reading and writing in both first and third person POV. Currently I am writing an urban fantasy in first person, but it took me a while to get the hang of first person. For paranormal/urban fantasy first person works really well.

I started writing in third person and in some ways find it easier to do. I've just begun a paranormal romance that I am going to write in third person, and now that I've gotten used to doing first person, it does feel odd.

04-17-2006, 09:58 PM
being a guy whose screen name is preyer, had i said 'vanity is a common trait in most female species,' i wonder what the reaction would be? lol. as to the validity of the statement i'm riffing off of, i think the only way for me to accept that is to take it in its absolute broadest sense, and even then i have to question whether or not that also applies to the female of the species, too.

did ya not think a guy was going to catch that, josie? lol. did ya presume a guy wouldn't be hanging out in the romance forum, heh heh? ah, i'm just teasin' ya, i know how much women like to be teased (sarcasm alert).

05-05-2006, 12:37 AM
My very first novel started out in 3rd person, but it kept me too distanced from the character. (All those pronouns!) http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/eek.gif

Fifteen pages in I gave up, went for 1st-person, and finished, eventually sold it. I've sold a lot since then, most in first, but some in 3rd person. Practice got me comfortable using both POVs.

For 3rd person that *reads* like 1st person I suggest anything written by Lois McMaster Bujold. She's able to draw you in so tight to a character you can feel their sweat trickling on your skin--great stuff.

For 1st person and a delightful read get anything by Elizabeth Peters. She started out in romance (Barbara Michaels, Barbara Mertz) and now her stuff is in mystery, but the rules still work.

Currently I'm working on a paranormal thriller with two separate heroes driving the plot. Both POVs were going to be 1st person, but early feedback from friends convinced me to make one of them 3rd person. They said it would be less confusing to the readers and they were right.

My main hero of the series continues his 1st person narrative, so his fans will be happy. The 3rd person bits with the "guest star" helps me to use a different "voice" for him so he's not just an avatar of the star.

Good luck! http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/images/smilies/wink.gif

05-05-2006, 02:34 AM
Thanks, Gilloughly, very encouraging :)

I've now switched to a short story contemporary first person, as it needs to go out this week argh.

That's interesting about the first person and third person aspect, obviously something I definitely will try later in my "career".

I love first person of course, but sometimes need to try 3rd pov to prove I can still write in it. :) I think I have established a voice in 1st pov, which is perhaps 1/2 the battle.

But most of my writing is first person and not amateurish, as editors are interested, but like little fishes in the water, aren't biting yet ha ha

I'l read some of the books you suggested.

Cheers, Judith

05-05-2006, 07:46 AM
Hey, glad to help!

I should mention that Lois Bujold's first novel "Shards of Honor" is science fiction, but much of the plot hinges on the unlikely romance between the main characters. Picture a military guy from deepest darkest 1980's Russia and a military woman from a planet that resembles the most liberal areas of California. Lois made it work and helped promote the sub genre of military s.f. "space opera." She also went on to win four Hugo awards.

Certainly she is one of my heroes, and I read her stuff to help me figure out how to be a better writer. I swear that woman thinks if 6 different dimensions, yet her characters and writing are extremely accessible.

Elizabeth Peter's caught my admiration with "The Mummy Case" which certainly qualifies as a romantic mystery. I kept picturing her characters--a highly volcanic relationship--being played by Sean Connery & Kate Hepburn in their prime.

The way movies are going with CGI it could happen...