Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Point of View in YA Books

Why hello there.

The Revelation

My poor book. I've subjected the very beginning of this book to so many changes. And I haven't even finished writing the first draft yet.

And then last week I was re-reading the Hunger Games, and I was like, "I should just go for it."

"Go for what?" you might ask.

So glad you asked. Go for first person point of view (POV).

My Internal POV Debates

I've shied away from 1st person POV with all my other manuscripts. It's partially because almost all the classics are written in 3rd person. Historically, 3rd person has just been a much more accepted POV. I would like my books to stand the test of time (you know, if any of them ever get published). So I automatically gravitated toward 3rd person.

But that semi-snobbiness wasn't the only reason I was sticking to 3rd person. It wasn't even the main reason. The real problem was that I wasn't sure I could pull 1st person off. You have to get the tone right or you've just made the whole book unreadable (or at least annoying to read).

Now, of course, "right" is very relative, but if you are writing a YA book about a 16 year old, you really cannot have that 16 year old sounding like an 85 year old Grandma. Or like a wooden robot. You know, unless that 16 year old is actually a reincarnated 85 year old robot. And good luck getting that tone right.

But I love the accessibility of Katniss in The Hunger Games, and part of the reason she's so accessible is that you know exactly what she's thinking and why she's thinking it.

So I decided I was going to go for it. That means I'm working on changing the portion of the book I had already written from 3rd person POV to 1st person POV. Talk about a pain in the butt. (Actually, I'm kind of loving it. It is a pain, but I can see so much more of Moura's character. I like her better now, and I think readers will too.)

The YA Point of View

That was when I realized that 1st person is actually pretty ideal for YA books. I mean, don't get me wrong, some authors do absolutely awesome with other POVs. But by the very nature of a YA book (a.k.a. focused on the teenage years), there will be angst and confusion and learning about oneself. Honestly, I think most books have that to a certain extent, but it's pretty essential in a YA novel. The reader has to travel through all that emotional turmoil and still like the main character. To get through all that angst with your MC, I think it's helpful to understand what that main character is thinking and why they're reacting the way they are. And for that, first person POV is awesome!

It also lets you make funny, snarky asides!

So, wish me luck. I've got a lot of revising to do. But I think I'm going to really like the results.


  1. Yeah, most YA books I pick up are in first person! It's very popular right now, and I think first-person present is starting to rise in popularity as well. It can be difficult to write--you really have to know your protagonist--but I think it can pull the reader into the story better than third can.

    Best of luck with the book!

    1. Thank you! Yeah. I know it's been a rising trend in YA. And in other genres too, I think (but especially YA).

      During my edits I'm going to have to pay special attention to make sure I've stayed consistent with my MC's tone/way of speaking, but it's definitely fun.