My “First Person” P.O.V. Post

This “It happened to me” viewpoint is common in cozies. To a new writer, it can seem to be the easiest choice. You and your main character tell the story into the computer keyboard.

“I, Jane Doe, trip over a body in my driveway and life goes on — with the following adventures. Come along and hear about them.”

Consider your Jane Doe’s arenas of daily activity. Would anyone want to spend a few days with her? In cozies an ordinary person is forced to turn sleuth. Ordinary people are not always, well, not all that interesting. Because a first person narrator must be at the scene of events, the book is stuck in her routine or must come up with events that take her out of her daily cozy world. Suppose Jane Doe is a junior file clerk who just left college? Do many people want to hear about her life? If Jane Doe, however, travels with a circus and trains dogs there’s a mix of routine and novelty with potential.

Too, the marriage of reader to Jane Doe’s thoughts can become dull. To compensate, authors often write witty internal dialogue in which Jane puts herself down or makes cruelly funny observations about others. The danger in this is that these asides can become predictable and then tiresome. How many times can one stand to hear about someone’s insecurities? Real life supplies the answer that a very limited amount is enough. How many cutting observations about people in her life before readers conclude that Jane Doe is a poor friend?

In other words, while first person may seem to be a natural choice, it’s not that simple. Take a good hard look at your fictional world. A first-person cozy mystery must have a strong, hopefully unique character to tell the story and the world in which she lives must be compelling. Is it possible for you to alter your plans to make certain these elements are present? If they are present already, can you strengthen them?

Or would you be better served by choosing a different p.o.v.? Authors who tell a story from a position external to the main character have more ways to make their fictional world interesting.

If you’re uncertain, write three chapters in first person and see if you’re faltering. If so, write three chapters in third person. These are drafts, not polished pieces of work, so don’t stress about the time taken. Choosing the correct p.o.v. is crucial to your success, especially if you are planning a series.

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About thebooksonmyshelf

Welcome to my blog. There's always a revolution going on in my home -- between art, writing, thinking, and three boy cats, there's rarely a moment without something hopping. I have lived in three major cities and now am in a small wonderful rural town. The proud author of the world's longest first-draft cowboy novel, I am now plowing into the realm of the cozy mystery. Come along and see how my journey through the woods of inexperience turns out.
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