9/20/07

POV in YA

I've been told that for YA literature, most editors want it told in 1st person POV. The rationale is that 1st person is more intimate, and young readers can identify better with the main, or POV character.

I’m not sure I totally agree with that. I've been writing a YA novel in 3rd person, and I think it is very intimate, getting into the thoughts, feelings, emotions, etc. of 4 different characters, all having their own stories (sub-plots) that tie into the main character’s story. I was told recently that I should re-write it in 1st person as most editors won’t accept one written in 3rd person. If I were to re-write it, I think it would lose a lot, as I would have to cut out all the sub-plots that give the main story so much richness.

Is there any truth to that rumor?
Two words: Harry Potter.

Added to original post:
Perhaps I need to give more than a two word answer. Harry Potter, the biggest selling children's/YA series in the history of the world, is written in third person.

First person works very well for YA books for the reasons you list but it's not the only way to write. Do what works best for your story.

9 comments:

Darvell Hunt said...

I'm confused by Harry Potter POV.

SPOILERS BELOW SO BEWARE IF YOU HAVEN'T READ ALL THE WAY TO THE END OF THE LAST BOOK YET!!!


*****************************

If Harry Potter doesn't know it, we don't know it. That's pretty standard, it seems. When Ron won the quiddage match, we didn't see it, because Harry wasn't there. I felt cheated. When Hermione and/or Ron destroyed the cup horcrux, we didn't see it because Harry wasn't there. I felt cheated. When the twin's ear was blasted off, we didn't see it, but heard about it later, because Harry wasn't there.

When the big V is doing something bad, we don't see it unless Harry gets into his head and has a distant vision of it.

Okay, that's well and good, but...

Many (most?) of the books START with scenes Harry knows nothing about. Vernon seeing wizards, all excited that Harry lived. Voldemort in the Riddle home (is that right?) killing the grounds keeper. Snape and Yaxley going to meet with Voldemort and witness the killing of the muggle teacher.

Why the inconsistency? I don't get it. She can start a story without Harry there, but once we are with him, we have to stay?

Darvell

Traci Hunter Abramson said...

I don't know what the publishers go for in the YA market, but a good portion of my fan mail comes from teenagers. That makes me think they like reading stories with multiple points of view.

Paul West said...

I've never read Harry Potter, nor do I have any intentions of doing so. So, I'm not sure how to take this answer.

Jeff Savage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeff Savage said...

Harry Potter is written in close 3rd person. However, the prologue type chapters are written in 3rd person from other characters perspective.

Leven Thumps, Fablehaven, and the books James Dashner and I sold to Shadow Mountain are all third person. The Golden Compass, which I am reading now is also 3rd person. So my guess is the rumor you are hearing is not true. Stick with what works for you and your story.

Tamra Norton said...

I think Jeff is absolutely right--write what works for you. All of my YA and middle-grade novels are written in first person. And my main character is always a girl. I may deviate from this in the future (I hope I do), but this is the voice I hear in my head, the voice I feel.

Writing 1st person POV is a great vehicle to show what's in your character's head, but there are also limitations which somehow you have to work around. That can be a bit of a pain but with some creativity, it's doable.

Rebecca Talley said...

I agree. I think you have to do what works best for your particular story. You can't "write to the market" or you'll always be frustrated. You have to be true to your own story, whether that's 1st person POV or 3rd.

Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...

This is a personal preference and I'm making a point to reference my comment this way.

I hate first person. If a book is in first person I put it right back on the shelf. I hate the limitation to omniscience of the story and the other characters.

~paulette said...

i'm actually surprised to find this potential argument. Most of the time it's the other way around, with 3rd-p being the prefered as candace's feelings reflect. i personally really enjoy 1st-p, but it's been very difficult to find good ones that don't end up ticking me off. either way, what's important is the quality of the story and it's characters... best of luck.