Friday, November 15, 2013

Who’s telling your story

Middle Grade books are written in third person.

YA books are written in first person.

This seems to be the trend, if not rule, recently. Want proof? Go into the book story and pick up 20 YA books and see how many are were written in first person. Then move to the MG section and pick up 20 of those. How many are third person? Here’s a hint, you’ll find a majority that fit the “rules” stated above.

So what does this mean for us writers? If you write Middle Grade does it have to be in third person? If you write YA does it have to be in first?

Abso-positive-lutely NOT.

Why not? Well, I’m not one for conformity just for the sake of conformity. But beyond that, each and every book and each and every author have their own life, their own stubborn personality. We’re creative beings, so I hope you understand what I mean when I say that every story has its own life, but even if you don’t, think about it like this: every book has something unique to tell, and not every book should be told the same way even if they’re for the same audience.  So how can you best tell what your story needs to tell?

As an author, we need to stay true to ourselves, but we also need to stay true to our work.

Should we take the POV trend into account when planning/writing/querying a novel? Yes, of course, always. Should that dictate what or how we write? No, of course not, never.

How do we decide what POV to use, then? I use a pretty tried and true method: whatever feels right. Is your character the one you want to be telling the story? Or would you rather have a strong narrator telling it? Voice is important either way. Most writers have one POV that they feel more comfortable with. That’s totally cool and might just be how you decide which one to choose for new work. But don’t be afraid to try something new to see how it works out. You might just surprise yourself.

If you still don’t know, try writing out one chapter, once in first person, then start over and rewrite it in third. Which do you like better? If you’re a really logical decision maker, create a list of pros and cons, grade them, have someone else read them etc.

Are you a trend rebel? Here are a few books that break the trend of first person YA and third person MG. Breaking a trend can sometimes be a great thing, so don’t be scared to try it.

MG in first person                                YA in third person

Percy Jackson                                     Daughter Of Smoke And Bone
Clementine                                          Gracling
Wonder                                                Luxe
See You At Harrys                               Mortal Instruments
Better Nate Than Ever                         Cinder
Walk Two Moons                                 Maze Runner

1 comment:

  1. As a rule, this is true. But I am seeing more and more first person POV in younger books, even PB.
    If we observe little ones, who often refer to self in third person, it's easy to see why books for the young tend to go that-a-way.