Tuesday, January 5, 2010

In or Out?

A friend and I were chatting today and he commented something to the effect that I like a pov that involves the reader, that puts the reader in the middle of the action verses one that sorta leaves the reader on the outside looking in.

And I had to admit he's very right. When I read a book, I want to be smack dab in the middle of the action. I want to feel the wind blowing, smell the smoke, hear the birds chirping or whatever is happening in the scene. I want to be taking part of the Main Character's adventure.

And isn't that why most people read? They (I) want to forget the jog, any troubles, the laundry and dishes for just a bit and live in someone else's world.

I think one reason mystery stories are so popular is because the bad guy gets what he deserves and good triumphs over evil.

Same thing with romance, there's a happy ever after ending that often the reader might not have.

Fantasy and science fiction take us out of our mundane daily grind and takes us to new worlds and adventures.

So, the question is, how do we apply this knowledge to our own writing?  I think it's a matter of being aware of the reader as we revise, that for a moment we look at our story not with the eyes of a writer but with the eyes of a reader.

What about y'all?  Do you want to be in the middle of the action or do you prefer the sidelines when you read?


  1. One of the reasons I like Urban Fantasy is because it is usually written on first person. As a reader, I like to learn things as the main character does. I want to discover things with my protagonist. I don't want to read a story, I want to experience. I believe that most readers want the same, so "in" is the way to go ;)

  2. I always want to be in the thick of things, and some of the best books I've ever read have been the hardest to review because I simply forget I'm reviewing them when I am so immersed in the storyline.

    When the narrator intrudes I am immediately pulled away and it is so annoying, especially if I'm really into the story and am suddenly jerked out and have to put myself back in again.


  3. I guess I'm weird. I enjoy omniscient narrator. I don't feel any less in the action with this POV. Not that I don't enjoy the other styles of POV as well, I do.

    I'm not sure I've written 3rd limited. I have written 1st person and it's been fine for some stories, but others I just find having to stay in one person's POV so constricting.

    I think you can feel pulled in no matter which POV is used if the story is well written.


  4. I definitely believe it's reader preference. Sandra, for example, enjoys an omniscient narrator and for me, if I can't feel a deep connection or feel invested in a character, I'm immediately putting the book down.

    In fact, just recently I decided not to buy a book because it was first person, present tense. From what I heard it's a great book from a well known author, but I simply can't stand that combination and was immediately turned off. For a short story, sure, I can give it a try, but there's no way I can read an entire novel.

    As a writer we can't please everyone and the faster we accept that, the better. Now, there is something to be said for taking a step back and reading your work like a reader would. I think it's vital to making your work shine and worthy enough to submit to agents and editors.

    We can learn how to 'read' this way and I think critiquing or listening to someone else's critique will improve this ability.