Welcome to this week’s Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop. If you’ve arrived from Lyra Parish’s blog, thanks for joining me!
This week we’re talking about craft. How we decide what tense and point of view to use, and whether we have written a book that breaks all the rules.
I never used to notice tense or point of view until I became a writer. As a reader I didn’t care less about the mechanics of the writing, as long as it was a good story, with good characters, and a plot that kept me hooked. Any more information than that, and it was like looking behind the Wizard of Oz’s curtain, and discovering how mundane the crafting of a story can be. But when I started writing stories, my eyes were opened to how many choices a writer has to make about how their story is formed, and how these choices can influence the reader’s perception. As Stephen King so wisely said in his memoir, ‘On Writing’, “you must not come lightly to the blank page.”
When I first started reading romance books (just after papyrus was invented), many of them shared the same basic framework — written in third person, with both the hero and heroine’s point of view, and always in the past tense. Of course the occasional book would be written in first person, but often those would veer more into the Women’s Fiction genre, with more emphasis on the heroine’s journey, and less on her budding romance with the hero.
Nowadays, though, there are so many choices in how to approach the story. There are books in first or third person, in present or past tense, and the choice of whether to show one or both points of view can depend upon the story. I love the diversity this offers both reader and writer, and I myself have written in different styles. Fix You is more traditional, written in third-person past, with both Richard and Hanna’s point of view. The three books in the Love in London series are different — they’re written in first person present, giving an immediacy to the heroine’s journey, and a more intimate viewpoint of the budding romance between her and the hero.
When I wrote fan fiction, I liked to push the boundaries, and have written in third person present (not a combination you see in books very often) and even had an attempt in writing in second-person present. For those who haven’t had the joy of second-person, take a look here. All I can say is that by the time I’d finished writing, it somehow morphed into first person. Probably a good thing not many books are written in second!
While I don’t really have a preference on tense or viewpoint, recently I’ve found myself veering more into third person than first. For some reason I’ve found it suits the story better, and allows me to give a fullness and weight to the plot that first person wouldn’t allow. I know some people say that third person is more shallow and less emotional than writing in first person, but I think that you can still fill a scene with feeling and depth regardless of the point of view. You just need to use the right words in the right order — it’s that easy, and that hard!
How about you? Do you have any preferences for tense and point of view when you’re reading (or writing a book). Let me knowing the comments.
Now let’s hop over to Jenna Da Sie’s Blog to find out how she deals with tense and pov.
Until next time,
Photo credits: Depositphotos & authors own.