Some of you may have already heard via Twitter or Facebook. For my latest revision, my agent Kelly Sonnack had me switch my entire SHAPERS novel from third to first person. Why? She wasn't connecting to the main character, feeling quite close enough. I had a rather deep third viewpoint going on, but the narrative was getting bumbled in with my MC's thoughts/inner dialogue. Maybe I'm a first person writer in a third person disguise?
Yes, I balked at first. Big, monstrous groan. I hate first person--or so I thought. At Kelly's request, I experimented with Chapter 1 in first person and sent it to her. Lo and behold, it sounded pretty decent. Like it was MEANT to be that way. Wow. We both agreed.
Not only that, I discovered that the story "wanted" to be in present tense.
Even though I hate present tense. Or at least I thought I did…
A lot of tedious work was involved with the POV (point of view) and verb tense changeover. All the "Morgans" had to be changed to "I" or "me." Some "she" words also had to be changed to "I"--but not all of them, since there were other female characters in the novel. Past tense verbs like "walked" had to be changed to "walk."
But I couldn't just do a simple Find/Replace All for the POV changes. No. That would've been too easy. I had to look at all the instances one by one and click Replace if it applied. Sigh. Still, it was faster than if I'd typed in the changes by hand.
In changing to first person, I realized there were places where Morgan had more to say, or where she needed to say it differently. It wasn't merely a matter of word swapping, since first person comes from a different angle, a closer scrutiny and experience. I also had to make the entire narrative in Morgan's voice and vocabulary. It was a really interesting process.
THIRD versus FIRST POV
Kelly mentioned that there are editors out there who won't even look at a manuscript unless it's written in first person. I didn't know that. Did you?
Many popular and well-known books published today are written from a first person point of view. DIVERGENT. HUNGER GAMES. TWILIGHT. SHIVER (the latter with a dual 1st person point of view, even).
So now that I've changed SHAPERS over to first person, I'm eyeing my dystopian WIP…and I think that book "wants" to be in first person too. But past tense seems to be working for that book (whew, less work). It feels a bit odd for me to think like an "I" in some places, though, since that main character is male--i.e. the romantic scenes!
Is your current novel written in first or third POV? Which do you prefer?
Do you ever write in present tense?
Have you ever written a first person POV novel in past tense?
What are other well-known MG/YA books written in first person?