In general, romance novels are written in either first person or third person. That means that the heroine is either speaking to the reader – “I love him so much.” Or the writer is speaking to the reader, “She loves him so much.”
Much of the decision to write in first person is based on your writing voice and how you process the story in your imagination. For example, many people put themselves in the role of their heroine. They identify with her and write as if they are her. This is first person. Other romance writers have to separate themselves from the heroine and look at the story from an omniscient perspective. Neither approach is right or better than the other, however there are some pros and cons for writing in the first person.
Readers Connect With Your Heroine – Intimately
Let’s face it, when you read something that’s written from the first person point of view of the heroine, you can’t help but identify with her. You’re insider her head and moving along with her every step that she takes.
However, this can be a hindrance as well. Because the story is only as the heroine views it, the reader has limited ability to empathize with other characters and to enjoy and explore the other facets of the story.
You’re Limited in Time and Storytelling
Because everything happens from the immediate viewpoint of the heroine, it can shortchange the experience. As a writer you cannot tell the story from multiple viewpoints nor can you manipulate time. For example, if your heroine is crossing the street then the reader can’t experience your hero watching her cross the street nor can they know what happened to him immediately before or after she crossed.
It Can Be Easier
Some writing instructors have their beginning students write from first person so that they can learn the mechanics of plot and storytelling before trying to juggle multiple viewpoints. And many first time novelists write from this perspective. When the heroine is strong and the reader can engage with her, then it’s a great approach. One of my favorite first person writers is Kimberly Frost, author of the Southern Witch Series. She’s far from a beginning writer and it’s crazy fun to be in the mind of her heroine.
There’s Danger in the “I”
Personally, I think it’s more difficult to pace a story when I’m writing first person. There’s a risk of the writer becoming too introspective and too much inner dialogue. It can be more fun to write suspenseful and intense scenes from multiple perspectives and to provide the reader with an omniscient viewpoint.
What do you think? What perspective do you tend toward and why?