3 Comments

Point-of-View, Where do you stand?

In my last book, Thrush my editor told me, I ‘head-hopped’ too much. I tended to shift which character I was focusing on during a scene. This caused confusion.We worked back and forth to clean-up the writing. I honestly didn’t even realize I was writing that way until she commented on it.

So far everything I have written has been from a third person perspective. I started a story awhile ago but hadn’t worked on it recently. The story just wasn’t going anywhere. Then I changed the P.O.V. to first person and added a paranormal storyline. Now I have a clearer idea of where I want to take my character. The shift in perspective makes everything Jonah, the main character and narrator, goes through much more personal. How people treat him is expressed directly to the reader instead of simply commented on by a omniscent third-party observer. By writing in first person I am better able to describe what he is seeing/hearing/smelling/feeling. Another element to consider in writing in first person, the reader will only see/know what Jonah does. That can add another dimension of suspense (if I do it right). I won’t give away too much, yet. It is still in the very early stages (hardly over 5,000 words). Read below for both versions (third and first person) of the first chapter of Hide the Moon.

Third Person, Past Tense

He needed a dollar fifty-nine to buy a small cup of coffee. For all his silver coins, he could stay warm for a few minutes. He had five quarters, three dimes and a nickel.

The line was long, but no one was crowding him.

The girl at the register popped her chewing gum and asked, “Order?” without meeting his eyes.

“Small coffee, black.” He set the coins on the counter so the girl doesn’t have to touch his hand. His hands and face were clean thanks to the public restroom facilities, but that doesn’t matter to most people.

“We are outta ‘talls’. You have to get a ‘Venti’. It’s $2.35” The cashier looked through him.

Shame kept him from shouting, “That’s all I have!” Instead, he said, “I want a small.”

The girl huffed dramatically, “Sir,” she made it sound like a foul insult, “We don’t have ‘smalls’ . We have ‘talls’ and today we are out.”

He slid the change back into his cupped hand and tried to turn away from the counter, but a swift, small hand caught his elbow. He was twisted back to the cashier.

“There you are!” The woman at his arm beamed up at him. “Sorry, I’m late.” She pulled off pink gloves and scarf and leveled a cool stare at the cashier. “This is together.” She left no room for argument. “Two large coffees, one strawberry bagel, and…” She looked up expectantly.

“Just want coffee.”

“He’ll have an orange juice, blueberry muffin and plain bagel with cream cheese.”

“$15.87”

The woman paid with a twenty and in a slight of hand worthy of Criss Angel, she slipped her change into his pocket instead of her own. Arms full, his new companion guided him to a table in the corner. She removed her coat and fluffed chin length blonde hair. Under her outer wear, she was beautiful. Petite but curvy, she was definitely a woman.

She took her seat, but he remained standing. “I don’t know you, Miss.”

“I know.” She pulled off a bite of her bagel. “I just don’t like rude, and that little cashier was R-U-D-E.”

He smirked. Most people don’t think he deserved manners.

“Have a seat, or I might think you are rude.” She teased. Not in a hurry to go back out in the freezing night, he sat a careful distance away. He knew what he looked like. He was very tall, too skinny, and some thought menacing. His beard was uneven and tangled. His clothes were dirty underneath a green army jacket.

“I am Grace.” She held out her hand. He gave it one quick shake and stared down at the table. “No name, hun?” She was teasing again.

“My name doesn’t matter.” He needed to put distance between him and her kindness. Kindness was a slow, sweet poison in his world. “I am homeless, lady. You can’t save me. I don’t NEED to be saved.”

She didn’t react with shock or anger. “You look like a ‘John’ or maybe a ‘James’. Something old testament.”

He groaned, “Jonah, my name is Jonah.”

“Jonah.” She said with unexpected delight. “Perfect.”

He sighed and ate the muffin. He had met her type before. She’d lose interest eventually and quit trying to rescue the poor homeless man. He resolved to face the typical questions do-gooders ask. Questions like, “How long have you been on the streets? Do you have any family? Do have drug or alcohol problem?” But again she surprised him.

“Do you think the ground hog will see his shadow tomorrow?”

He swallowed his coffee too quickly and coughed, “I don’t know.”

“I hope he does?”

“Which is that? Short winter?”

“No, its supposed to mean six more weeks of winter, but the ground hog is only forty percent accurate.” She looked so serious, he had to hold back a grin. Then she exclaimed in discovery. “Maybe, we have it reversed. Did anyone ever ask the groundhog? Maybe if he sees his shadow it really means an early spring. Then the ground hog will be right sixty percent of the time.”

“I’m sure the ground hog would appreciate that.”

First Person, Present Tense

I need a dollar fifty-nine to buy a small cup of coffee. For all my silver coins, I can stay warm for a few minutes. I have five quarters, three dimes and a nickel.

The line is long, but no one is crowding me.

The girl at the register pops her chewing gum and asks, “Order?” without meeting my eyes.

“Small coffee, black.” I set the coins on the counter so the girl doesn’t have to touch my hand. My hands and face are clean, thanks to the public restroom facilities, but that doesn’t matter to most people.

“We are outta ‘talls’. You have to get a ‘Venti’. It’s $2.35” The cashier looks through me.

Shame kept me from shouting, “That’s all I have!” Instead, I say, “I want a small.” I can be scary when I want to be.

The girl huffs dramatically, “Sir,” she makes it sound like a foul insult, “We don’t have ‘smalls’ . We have ‘talls’ and today we are out.”

I slide the change back into my cupped hand and try to turn away from the counter, but a swift, small hand catches my elbow. I am  twisted back to the cashier.

“There you are!” The woman at my arm beams. “Sorry, I’m late.” She pulls off pink gloves and scarf and levels a cool stare at the cashier. “This is together.” She left no room for argument. “Two large coffees, one strawberry bagel, and…” She looks up expectantly.

“Just want coffee.”

“He’ll have an orange juice, blueberry muffin and plain bagel with cream cheese.”

“$15.87”

The woman pays with a twenty, and, in a slight of hand worthy of Criss Angel, she slips her change into my pocket instead of her own. Arms full, my new companion guides me to a table in the corner. She removes her coat and fluffs chin length blonde hair. She smells clean, good and wholesome. Under her outer wear, she is beautiful. Petite but curvy, she was definitely a woman.

She takes her seat, but I remain standing. “I don’t know you, Miss.”

“I know.” She pulls off a bite of her bagel. “I just don’t like rude, and that little cashier was R-U-D-E.”

I smirk. Most people don’t think I deserve manners.

“Have a seat, or I might think you are rude.” She teases. Not in a hurry to go back out in the freezing night, I sit, a careful distance away.

I know what I look like. I am very tall, too skinny, and some think menacing. My beard is uneven and tangled. My clothes are dirty underneath a green army jacket.

“I am Grace.” She holds out her hand. I give it one quick shake and stare down at the table. “No name, huh?” She was teasing again.

“My name doesn’t matter.” I need to put distance between me and her kindness. Kindness is a slow, sweet poison in my world. “I am homeless, lady. You can’t save me. I don’t NEED to be saved.”

She doesn’t react with shock or anger. “You look like a ‘John’ or maybe a ‘James’. Something old testament.”

I groan, “Jonah, my name is Jonah.”

“Jonah.” She said with unexpected delight. “Perfect.”

I sigh and eat the muffin. I have met her type before. She’ll lose interest eventually and quit trying to rescue the poor homeless man. I resolve to face the typical questions do-gooders ask. Questions like, “How long have you been on the streets? Do you have any family? Do have drug or alcohol problem?” But again she surprises me.

“Do you think the ground hog will see his shadow tomorrow?”

I swallow my coffee too quickly and cough, “I don’t know.”

“I hope he does?”

“Which is that? Short winter?”

“No, it’s supposed to mean six more weeks of winter, but the ground hog is only forty percent accurate.” She looks so serious, I have to hold back a grin. Then she exclaims in discovery. “Maybe, we have it reversed. Did anyone ever ask the groundhog? Maybe if he sees his shadow it really means an early spring. Then the ground hog will be right sixty percent of the time.”

“I’m sure the ground hog would appreciate that.”

****

I don’t have a deadline for Hide the Moon. But I will keep posting updates here on WordPress.

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3 comments on “Point-of-View, Where do you stand?

  1. Not sure I would make the jump from third to first yet. The first person version seems a little forced. You already have a successful writing style that has got you 2 published works already. You enjoy writing a lot because it comes natural to you and it is fun. If you have to think a lot and rework your writing to make it first person you may not enjoy it as much and it may start to feel like work.

  2. I like the strength of character melded with femininity.

  3. First person is good for suspense but as the reader I like third person better in most novels since I can know so much more of what is going on behind the scenes. I’ll look forward to seeing how it turns out.

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