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Veronica Mars Fanfic Resource Journal
Articles on Writing
Point of View 
31st-Oct-2005 12:41 am
by sinaddict and herowlness


Point of View, or POV, in fiction writing refers to whose perspective the story is told from.

First Person
I approach the office door and tell myself that my presence is all about business. Visiting Veronica is just a means to an end – an easy way for me to determine the identity of Trina’s lowlife boyfriend.

I open the door, and my gaze falls on her face – reminding me that when it comes to Veronica, the last thing on my mind is business.
First person POV is written in "I" form, using the pronouns I, me, and my. It is a popular style in fanfic writing because it can draw the reader into the story and help him or her identify with the main character quickly.

However, there are drawbacks to writing in this form. First, it makes describing the narrator (main viewpoint character) difficult, because you can't describe anything your narrator doesn't directly see, hear, or know.

It's very simple to say something like "I walk into the journalism room two minutes before class, unaware of the fact that my bookbag is unzipped and my notes are missing." However, in first-person writing you can't say that because the narrator is explicitly unaware of the fact that his or her bookbag is unzipped. If your narrator doesn't know about something, you shouldn't be mentioning it in your piece.

So that just means that need to be a little more creative with describing your scene, like the example below.
I walk into the journalism room two minutes before class, rushing to get there on time. I drop my bag on the table and am surprised to see that it's unzipped. My notes are missing.
The second problem with writing in first person is that if you're a beginning writer, it can be difficult to pull off without sounding like a "What I Did On My Summer Vacation" essay. In other words, your first person story shouldn't sound like the example below.

First, I set my books on the table. Then, Wallace sat down at the counter, and I pulled some PopTarts out of the cupboard. After I put them in the toaster, I grabbed two plates and two glasses for orange juice. I really love orange juice.
See? It sounds very amateurish and isn't terribly interesting to read.

Second Person
You wish you hadn't done this. Now you can't be the same around him.

And he'll notice the difference. You know don't know why.
Second person POV, which is writing with the pronouns you and your is almost never used in fanfic writing, because it not only has the effect of distancing the reader from the story, it is also extremely hard to pull off correctly.

It can be a very powerful tool, if you use it effectively. This point of view works better with Veronica Mars, than it might in other fandoms, simply because there is a lot of denial and self-doubt and such going on in the minds of characters – depending on what sort of story you're trying to tell.

However, if you're going to try to use a second-person POV, I'd recommend switching the pronouns to him/her before you post it, to ensure that you have selected the best point of view for your story. If your POV is only going to serve to take someone out of your story, why use it?

Third Person Limited
She’s not broken yet, but she’s close. She’s toeing the line, flirting with thoughts of how easy it would be.

It’s difficult, sometimes, to be the strong one, the tough one, the unbreakable one.
Third person limited is the most commonly used in all kinds of fiction, including fanfic. Although all characters are described with the pronouns he, she, and they, each scene is seen through the eyes of one character.

When writing in the third person limited, the reader should only be aware of the viewpoint character's thoughts. Any other character's thoughts or feelings should be only be given through the viewpoint character's interpretations of the other character's actions.

In other words, you can't write something like the following:
As Wallace stocks canned goods at the Sac 'N' Pac, he thinks about how much fun he had during the impromptu limo party with Georgia, Veronica, and Troy.

Georgia walks through the door a moment later, looking at the boy she's come to care for so much over the past few weeks. "Wallace, I have something I have to tell you," she begins, nervously. "My family is moving to New York City next week. I'm leaving town."
Instead, it should be written so that only one character's thoughts are written. For this example, we'll write from Wallace's perspective.
As Wallace stocks canned goods at the Sac 'N' Pac, he thinks about how much fun he had during the impromptu limo party with Georgia, Veronica, and Troy. His face lights up a moment later, when he sees his girlfriend approach.

"Wallace, I have something to tell you," she begins, and he can hear the nervous tremble in her voice. He knows, instinctively, that whatever she's going to say next cannot be good. Nothing good ever follows an opener like that. "My family is moving to New York City next week. I'm leaving town."
See how much easier it is to identify with Wallace when the reader is only allowed to see through his eyes?

Third Person Omniscient
Veronica doesn't understand why her father isn't going to track down her mother, after she deserts them. Without her mother, she feels like a part of her is missing. And she's lost so much in the past few weeks – first her boyfriend, then her best friend – and to lose her mother on top of it all seems like too much.

Keith understands that Veronica misses her mother, and he's glad that she isn't haunted by the bad memories of her alcoholic mother. But, at the same time, he thinks that they are better off without Lianne, and he wonders if his daughter will ever be able to understand why he doesn't do everything in his power to try to find his errant wife.
Third person omniscient is a kind of Godlike perspective. An unseen narrator tells the reader all of characters' thoughts and feelings.

Most writers are tempted to use the third person omniscient because they want to draw the reader into the story by letting them identify with all of the characters. Ironically, it tends to distance the reader from the story because they can't focus on one character.

Whose POV To Use
When writing in the first person or third person limited, the viewpoint character should be the one with the most to lose in the scene or chapter, or the character who's in the most action.

Stories told in third person omniscient don't need to have one viewpoint character chosen since they include all characters' thoughts and feelings.

Changing Viewpoint
As a general rule, you shouldn't switch POV styles. For example, you shouldn't switch from first person to third person omniscient. It will confuse readers and pull them out of your story, making it very hard to keep their attention.

You should try to avoid changing viewpoint characters more than once in any scene for the same reason. In first person writing especially, you should stick with one viewpoint character per chapter because it's jarring for the reader to have to adjust to the new character mid-chapter.

In third person limited, it's relatively easy to change viewpoint characters. Make sure that when you switch characters there's a clear transition that ends the current viewpoint character's thoughts.
"What are you up to, Veronica?" Wallace asks his best friend, as he spins the combination before opening his locker. She's looking at him with her usual I need a favor look, and he's half-afraid to find out what she has in mind.

"I'm trying to figure out who is responsible for stealing the test from Mr. Cooney's American Lit test," Veronica begins slowly, hoping that Wallace will be willing to help her out again. "Any chance you could get me the names of all the students who are in each of his classes?"
Usually, you should only do it once or twice per scene so that you don't end up with an omniscient sounding scene. Switching viewpoint characters every paragraph is a definite no-no because "head-hopping", as the technique is commonly referred to, tends to take the reader out of the story.

If you're writing in third person omniscient, you obviously won't need to worry about changing viewpoint characters, since your story is already being told from everyone's perspective.

Have a question? Need further clarification or assistance? Feel free to ask! :)

**I quoted some fanfics for the good examples of each point of view. Quoted pieces include Breaking Point by herowlness, First Day of My Life by herowlness, You Think You Know Somebody by sinaddict. Fanfic snippets that are not from any of those pieces were written by herowlness for the sole purpose of this piece.
31st-Oct-2005 08:04 am (UTC)
I love this community, and I wish I had more time to be involved with it.

So, you are recommending Third Person Limited for most stories then? Because of the immediacy it provides?

I recently took a stab at 2nd person for the hell of it. I think it worked, for what it is. It's interesting when things are only happening in the character's head.
31st-Oct-2005 02:32 pm (UTC)
I'd recommend third person limited for most stories from most beginning authors. In part because they tend to provide - as you said - "immediacy" and they are also relatively simple to write in. Some wonderful pieces have been written from a 2nd person POV -- including Juliette's You Think You Know Somebody, which is actually what got me into VM fandom in the first place... but I digress.

Really, it depends on what sort of story you want to tell. 3rd person limited and 1st person both would work for most stories. 3rd person limited is easier to write from, so if authors are tempted to head-hop, it doesn't get really confusing really fast. I've yet to read a really fantastic 3rd person omniscient fanfic, but it doesn't mean that it can't be done. Hell, I technically have a 2nd person fic in progress (haven't touched it since June, I don't think, but technically! it's in progress!), if only as a writing exercise for myself.

I've got to run off to class shortlyish, but I'll try to give your fic a read later today. I don't remember seeing that on my Flist, so I must have missed it. Hrm ....

I'm glad that you're enjoying this community. I still have plenty of old pieces that Juliette wrote back for Passions authors that I can rewrite to fit the VM fandom. So those are coming as time allows. If you can think of anything else that needs to be added, get to writing! ;-)

Thanks again! <3
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