Romance Readers Discussion Group discussion

Romantic Trends > Female-only Perspective

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message 1: by Christine (new)

Christine | 12 comments Mod
More and more contemporary romance novels seem to be written with only one POV, usually in the first person, and even (though this is for a different topic) in the present tense.

I'm not loving it, personally, but before I get into why I want to open it up: What do you think?

message 2: by books are love (new)

books are love | 1 comments I think we are seeing this and than after the author comes back with books in just the male POV. To me one of the best authors to give us both is Emma Chase. Look at her tangled series we got Drew's POV and it was awesome.

For some reason the norm isn't to think that we would want the whole picture from each view and to me this broadens the experience and feel for the characters and emotion of the book. Thoughts?

message 3: by Christine (new)

Christine | 12 comments Mod
I haven't read Emma Chase; I'll look into it.

I have seen the follow-up male perspective books, though, and to tell you the truth, I can't make myself read them. I've tried a couple of times, but didn't get far. It's too much "I read this already." Which is weird because, as I mentioned, I don't love the heroine-only perspective in the first place.

One of the things I love about romantic fantasy is the ability to experience a connection between two people. When I only get one side of that connection, it's incomplete. Even lonely. I haven't been able to form a connection through just one perspective at a time.

message 4: by Kimber (new)

Kimber Wheaton (kimberleighwheaton) | 2 comments I write young adult from 1st person perspective both male and female in present tense. I think this perspective/tense is great for YA, but I can see how it might be lacking for a deeper connection with other characters in the novel. If they write from a female-only perspective, I think it's important for authors to show the relationship--since we don't get inside the male's mind, we need to see his love and commitment through his actions and words.

message 5: by Christine (new)

Christine | 12 comments Mod
Thanks for your comment, Kimber. Yes, I can see why this would work for YA better than for adult fiction. Much more than in adult fiction, YA strives to connect a single character to a reader who can identify with him/her.

And in fact, I feel like I need to step back and defend first person because I love it. I write it! (Not always ... depends upon the book ... but my urban fantasy series is first person.) I think it works great in certain genres, including urban fantasy. It even works when romance is present/important but not the main focus of a novel. I enjoy first person the most when it's got voice and attitude. I think if you can swap him/her for I without having to rewrite, you've done it wrong. :)

It's really just the growing number of adult mainstream romance (usually contemporary) novels I'm seeing in first person that have me going, "Really?"

New adult is particularly guilty of it, although I forgave Ella Kennedy for it because she's a kick-ass writer and she did alternating first person so that I did, in fact, get the male perspective. I read it on audio and she got a male and female to do the narration -- some of the best narrated audiobooks I've read, and I've read a lot!

message 6: by Kimber (new)

Kimber Wheaton (kimberleighwheaton) | 2 comments It's interesting... when I first started writing, selling a book in first person (even YA) to an agent or publisher was a challenge. I enjoy first person because of the deep POV, though I don't tend to read contemporary romance or romance-driven plots. I wonder if writers are doing it because it's a fad or because it can be a tad easier than keeping third person limited to one POV at a time. I know that publishers hate the third person omniscient, and, as an editor, I'm always marking passages in third person that aren't from the proper character's POV.

It will be interesting to see if readers embrace this or not. Check the Amazon and Goodreads reviews to see what readers have said about particular books.

I'm in the planning stage for an adult paranormal romance series that will be in first person. But each book will be from a different character's POV.

I love the idea of a male/female narration. That must be awesome!

message 7: by Christine (new)

Christine | 12 comments Mod
I've never found it difficult to stay in one character's head at a time in third person. In fact, learning to write through a deep POV (whether it is first or third) is how I primarily understand the writing process ... character first. I'm in the beginning stages of writing a nonfiction book (on writing) with that angle. It doesn't advocate first or third (though it will discuss both); the point is to find that place in your character's soul and dig in. Once you do that, omniscient POV is jarring.

I'm an editor too (sounds like we have a lot in common!) and I've recently had to edit a few omniscient books by first-time authors who, I'm convinced, simply didn't understand what they were doing. I don't think the choice was intentional and probably for that reason, the stories didn't feel grounded in anything at all.

More old fashioned romance (pre-90's) did version of full-on omniscient with head hopping between the two main characters. Read some older Linda Howard books for examples. She's such an awesome writer that I forgive her; it was the style at the time, after all. :)

The reviews for a lot of these first person books that set me to complaining are through the roof. 4+ stars. Incredible. I've been feeling so out of sync with other readers on so many of these books that it's positively depressing!

TMI warning: I prefer the male perspective in romance. I'd especially rather read a sex scene through the male protagonist's POV than the female's. I find it sexier to think of him thinking of her. It's a self-affirmation thing, I think. True intimacy starts with feeling good about yourself, so giving voice to the character who has no doubts about the perfection of the female form is liberating.
/TMI warning

You never know if something's a fad or not until you can look back on it from 20 years later. If I had to guess ... no, I don't think this is a fad. First person as a perspective offers some terrific advantages and if we take it to its natural conclusion in romance, it could help us to tell more honest romantic stories. After all, in the real world, you don't get to see inside the guy's head. It's kind of cheating. :) But until the guy in question isn't also a perfect specimen of manhood with amazing prowess in the bedroom, we're still pretty far from that honesty. :)

message 8: by Sheila (new)

Sheila | 1 comments I think third person omniscient is harder to write, but I love it when it's done well. I prefer to write first person or third person deep, but I'm not sure which I prefer to read. Maybe my appreciation for omniscient makes that a preference as long as it's good.

message 9: by Christine (new)

Christine | 12 comments Mod
Third person omni is my editing nightmare. Too many authors think it's easy to write and they confuse it with ... I don't know ... no POV at all! The resulting "stories" are impossibly disconnected and just plain treacherous. Worse, I don't know how to help them write a good omni because 1) I don't know myself and 2) to the extent that I do get the principles, it all comes down to a commanding narrative voice, which is something better discovered than taught.

When I run across competent omni, it's okay. It can work for certain types of stories. There was one ... hang on ... Mother of Storms by John Barnes which involves a whole-world disaster and utilizes an omni POV very well.

The trouble is that I read primarily for intimacy. And omni might deliver a good story, but I've never read an omni story that delivered intimacy. Which means I don't love it in any genre and I would hate it in romance.

message 10: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Haskin (the_sweetest_pea) | 4 comments I am beginning a new novel (YA dystopian/romance) and planning to use first person for the first time. Any advice?

message 11: by Christine (new)

Christine | 12 comments Mod
"I am beginning a new novel (YA dystopian/romance) and planning to use first person for the first time. Any advice?"

Yep. Bring the attitude. If you could switch the "I" in first person for "he" or "she" and not really notice the difference, you're doing it wrong and are better off in a deep third person. The narrator in a first person story is a character. Authors who forget that take on all of the problems of first person with none of the advantages. A first person narrator is a character in his/her own right.

If you remember that you should be fine. First person works well in both YA and dystopian fiction. The romance can be challenging, but often the relationship aspect is secondary anyway. Like with Hunger Games, YA dystopian romance told in first person -- big problem with this series was that Katniss wasn't the primary driving force of the plot past the first book, which I'm convinced is why many readers felt less satisfied with books 2 and 3. So be careful that your first person narrator is the main driving force behind the story too!

And have fun! :)

message 12: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Haskin (the_sweetest_pea) | 4 comments Thanks! Do you mean that in third person, you are the narrator of the story, but in first person, you ARE the character?

message 13: by Christine (new)

Christine | 12 comments Mod
Not exactly. In first person, the narrator is a character. The author can choose to get "in character" and be the character, but that's optional and not unique to first person. It's also possible for the author to get "in character" and be the character in third person. I do exactly that in both styles.

As for who the narrator is in third person limited omniscient ... that's complicated. The logic of third person is tricky and as an editor, it's one of the things I'm responsible for tracking carefully.

In deep third person limited, I think of the narrator as a voice sitting inside the character's head, translating thoughts and feelings into words. Deep third person is very intimate, and requires the author to tap into serious emotional reserves he/she may not know they have! In some ways, it's MORE intimate than first person, because it's in the moment. A first person narrator may be telling the story from the future, whereas a third person narrator is right there, describing events as they unfold, possibly taking on the voice and characteristics of multiple characters or possibly only one.

To tell you the truth ... when I talk to young writers, I recommend they learn to write a deep third person limited before deciding to write first. First is the one most newbie writers drift toward, perhaps thinking of themselves as the hero/heroine of their own story. (I did a lot of that as a teen too.)

**But it's hard to write a compelling first person because the reader often doesn't feel as connected to the character as the author does.** This can leave an author baffled as to what's going wrong with their storytelling.

Meanwhile, the skills you learn while digging into deep third person limited will serve you well no matter where you take your voice in the future. :)

message 14: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Haskin (the_sweetest_pea) | 4 comments Aha. Thanks.

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