re: Which POV Is Best for Fiction Starring Talking Animals?

posted 5/9/12

Dear Editor…

Main charac & plot w/talking animals. Secondary: humans. 1st or 3rd ltd?

Trudy

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Dear Trudy…

You’re feeling to the point today, aren’t you? Well I’m feeling in the mood to fill in the blanks. The way I figure it, you’re asking which point of view is the better choice for a piece of fiction starring talking animals. Third person POV is probably more common for novels with animal protagonists, but that didn’t stop Elise Broach from choosing first person for Masterpiece, her lovely novel about a beetle who creates fine art. Compare that with Charlotte’s Web, wherein E. B. White used third person to legendary success. Ultimately, your story and style can’t be dictated by others’ choices, so you need to sort out which feels most natural for you to write and which offers you the most promising storytelling options. That calls for experimenting. Write one chapter in third person, then rewrite it in first. If you don’t feel an immediate affinity for one choice, keep writing chapters in both POVs until you find that you look forward to working on one more than the other.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Point of View
posted by: The Editor
under: Point of View
Comments to "re: Which POV Is Best for Fiction Starring Talking Animals?" | Add a Comment
    1. Yahong wrote (on 05/09/12 at 11:03 am) :

      What an interesting topic! Thanks for the examples and the experiment.

      [Reply]

    2. Rahma Krambo wrote (on 05/09/12 at 12:51 pm) :

      This topic was of particular interest to me because I wrote Guardian Cats through the eyes of cats – in the third person POV. It felt most comfortable, especially since I needed to present several characters’ POVs.

      I’m currently re-reading Watership Down, which is 3rd person omniscient, even though it’s mostly from the main rabbit’s POV. Highly recommended read for anyone writing from the perspective of animals.

      [Reply]

      The Editor replied (on 05/09/12 at 1:00 pm) :

      I agree that Watership Down is a great book to read for an example of a novel about an animal community, from the perspective of the animals themselves. Confession: The movie version scared me so much as a little kid that I couldn’t get myself to read the novel until I was all grown up. It’s a truly fabulous book.

      [Reply]

      Rahma Krambo replied (on 05/09/12 at 8:50 pm) :

      I’ve heard that the movie was terrifying for kids. Watership Down isn’t really a young kid’s story, I don’t think; these rabbits are not your Disney bunnies. When I’m finished with the book I plan on renting it.

      I love Richard Adam’s lyrical writing style though; it ‘carries’ me without effort and is the most enjoyable book I’ve read lately.

      [Reply]

    3. Sue Ford wrote (on 05/10/12 at 8:40 am) :

      There’s a great article on Talking Animals here: http://www.institutechildrenslit.com/rx/wt02/tkganimals.shtml. I love how it lists some rules. It’s main focus is magazine stories, but still it has some good points.

      [Reply]

    4. The Editor wrote (on 05/11/12 at 4:14 pm) :

      Cynthia Rylant’s GOOSEBERRY PARK is a wonderful young MG novel that uses third person omniscient, where the primary point of view characters are animals.

      [Reply]

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