re: Bad Idea for Multiple POVs to Alternate Between 1st and 3rd Person?

posted 3/1/16

Dear Editor…

I’m beginning work on a YA thriller. I plan to use multiple POVs. It feels right to use 1st person when my protagonist is telling the story, but 3rd person feels right for everyone else. Do you think it’s okay to switch back and forth or would that bother readers? I plan to identify the person whose POV we’re getting at the beginning of each chapter.

Sincerely,
T.

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Dear T. …

Do experiment with this idea. Readers love the mind manipulation of thrillers; you could do some cool manipulating with one 1st person narrator among several 3rd person narrators. Maybe the 1st person POV would establish your protagonist as the most trusted narrator, when in fact readers should be trusting someone else entirely. Maybe timing the switch to 1st person could alter the tone strategically—perhaps allowing readers to pull back from high action for a quiet mull in someone’s head, or maybe increasing intensity as the 1st person narrator pummels readers with a more immediate sense of emotion. I do hope there’s an underlying logic for the single 1st person narrator. I don’t want readers feeling like the author is being clever for clever’s sake. Your concern about clarity and reader comfort suggests you’ll handle this smoothly, so I’m not worried readers will struggle.

Happy writing!
The Editor

P.S. For more on this topic, read Creative Process, Point of View
posted by: The Editor
under: Creative Process, Point of View
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