I’m sure just about every aspiring writer has heard the infamous dictum: “Show, don’t tell.” This is often a foundational element to how a lot of people write, especially when starting out. While the heart of this advice comes from a good place, exhorting writers to not use the crutch of adverbs or gratuitous description, it can sometimes swing too far in the other direction.
This post is mostly going to be about other books I’ve read, moreso than anything I’ve written, because it deals with first-person perspectives. While third-person narrators can absolutely make an impact on the way a story is read (looking at you, A Song of Ice and Fire), some of my favorite stories are first-person novels. By and large, the reason for this is the way the first-person viewpoint structures and colors the story.
As I undertake my Wheel of Time Reread, the topic of viewpoint characters has been on my mind. In The Eye of the World, there are only a few POV characters: Rand has by far most of the book, with a few chapters from Perrin and a few from Nynaeve. It’s a rather startling contrast to…well, to the whole rest of the series, which sees an astounding 2700+ named characters, with hundreds of them getting viewpoints at one place or another.
And that brings me to my own experiences with the phenomenon.
A lot of people have ideas for novels. A lot of them are good, creative, or have something poignant to say. But actually putting those ideas on the page is an entirely different animal from just coming up with premises. There are a whole host of things to consider before creating your new story on the pages of a novel.