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Thread: 1st POV and Worldbuilding

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  1. #1
    figuring it all out Emissarius's Avatar
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    1st POV and Worldbuilding

    My current WIP is an MG fantasy in 1st POV. I'm about 30,000 words in, and while I'm thoroughly enjoying the voice, I'm beginning to feel that the POV isn't doing the worldbuilding or the magic system justice, not least because the cast is somewhat large. I want to rewrite it as 3rd person limited; the narrative would still revolve around the MC alone, but the there's more distance (and less claustrophobia). Thing is, every time I try rewriting it as 3rd POV, I'm put off by the complete loss of voice. Several POV-related articles and blog posts warn that 1st POV is hard to give up on cause of how voicey it is. Anyone else having this problem?

  2. #2
    I write at work... Girlsgottawrite's Avatar
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    I don't think that's necessarily true. I've found that, in close 3rd, I can write in much of the same way as in 1st.

    However, I will caution you that a large cast, multiple POV book might be a hard sale for middle grade. Your audience will probably respond better to 1st person POV. If I were you, I'd probably stick with 1st person POV and focus on finding ways to highlight the world building a little more.

    Just my 2 cents. Hope that helps!

  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    Middle graders tend to follow just one character, even in 3rd. You can write closely in 3rd but I wouldn't change the character just to promote the setting. Try it in 3rd then maybe post both chapters (one in first and the other in 3rd) and see which others think works better - or even better see which you like better. Characters should be more important than settings even in a Fantasy novel. I will always read an interesting character will a recycled setting, but not the other way around, I've seen many say they feel the same. So just something to be aware of.

    All the best with your WIP.

  4. #4
    Preparing for winter VeryBigBeard's Avatar
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    Two things:

    1. There's character voice and narrative voice. In 1st, they're effectively one and the same. But it sounds like your real problem here is that you haven't yet developed narrative voice. It can be tough to do if you've mostly worked in 1st. Maybe try some exercises--I'm writing this with one hand so am unable to link you any right this moment--focused particularly on exposition and summary narrative. Try to teach yourself to get comfortable describing things in your writing voice, not just filtering it through you character(s).

    Which brings me to...

    2. What I find happens a lot when I'm reading/critting 1st person stuff is that the worldbuilding and other summary material gets really filtered, because you're somewhat stuck with what she can see/hear/feel. So make sure you're moving beyond just sensory description. Just because you're in 1st doesn't mean the POV character can't explain something in a bit more depth. Watch out for the "I ______..." constructions that plague a lot of 1st-person writing; those aren't going to get you very far. Instead, find a way to let your character's voice carry the exposition wherever it needs to go.

    So basically, it's good to develop the skill to convey voice in third. But you should also be able to work around this problem in first using much the same skill.

  5. #5
    figuring it all out Emissarius's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VeryBigBeard View Post
    What I find happens a lot when I'm reading/critting 1st person stuff is that the worldbuilding and other summary material gets really filtered, because you're somewhat stuck with what she can see/hear/feel.
    Exactly, and I also feel that when it comes to introducing prominent characters (the mentor, the villain, or the rival...etc.), these characters won't be portrayed neutrally. Instead they'll appear in whatever way the narrator sees them.

    This, IMO, is what happens with most of the Rick Riordan books (as well as the RR Presents ones): the MC overshadows all the other characters, and while he/she does end up being quite memorable, the rest of the cast (with the possible exception of the MC's close friends) don't really cement their places in my memory.

    I admit this last point is what's really driving me to switch to 3rd POV, I'm worried some of the important characters won't get to shine in 1st POV. It's not that I plan on having chapters or scenes in those characters' POVs, but I still feel a close 3rd would do them more justice than a 1st POV, if only because they'll be introduced somewhat 'neutrally.'
    Last edited by Emissarius; 06-10-2019 at 02:34 PM.

  6. #6
    Willing to Learn MythMonger's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Emissarius View Post
    Exactly, and I also feel that when it comes to introducing prominent characters (the mentor, the villain, or the rival...etc.), these characters won't be portrayed neutrally. Instead they'll appear in whatever way the narrator sees them.

    This, IMO, is what happens with most of the Rick Riordan books (as well as the RR Presents ones): the MC overshadows all the other characters, and while he/she does end up being quite memorable, the rest of the cast (with the possible exception of the MC's close friends) don't really cement their places in my memory.

    I admit this last point is what's really driving me to switch to 3rd POV, I'm worried some of the important characters won't get to shine in 1st POV. It's not that I plan on having chapters or scenes in those characters' POVs, but I still feel a close 3rd would do them more justice than a 1st POV, if only because they'll be introduced somewhat 'neutrally.'
    It seems to me that a neutral presentation would make a character less memorable, not more.

    If your narrator has an emotional reaction to the other characters, that could really make these other characters pop.
    I wrote my way into this mess, and I'll write my way out.

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  7. #7
    Preparing for winter VeryBigBeard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MythMonger View Post
    It seems to me that a neutral presentation would make a character less memorable, not more.

    If your narrator has an emotional reaction to the other characters, that could really make these other characters pop.
    +1

    I mean, 1st is inherently centered around that MC. That's is power. So you choose to use it in order to take advantage of that.

    But you can use that MC to find a way to describe things. If a villain has any kind of relationship to the MC (and if not, why are they the villain?) then use that to describe him/her. Let your narrator narrate, whether it's 1st or 3rd.

    Try free-writing and just describing some setting. Or a villain's entry.

    Even if you start in third, it's actually not that hard to change something to first (or vice-versa), especially in a small excerpt.

    When you have 50 posts, try posting in SYW. In the mean-time, crit others.

  8. #8
    figuring it all out Emissarius's Avatar
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    If my work has lots of characters, would it be safer to use third-person? It's not that there will be chapters told from those characters' POV (the whole story will be from the MC's whether I choose 1st or 3rd), but I've noticed that most first-person MG fantasis tend to have fewer main characters, and the MC is usually on an adventure/ quest with two or three other characters, and while they do meet lots of characters on their journey, none of those end up being main characters. Should the sheer number of characters in my story be the reason to switch to third-person, even if none of them will get scenes/ chapters told from their POVs?

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