GtPGKogPYT4p61R1biicqBXsUzo" /> Google+ UF Author Louis Corsair: The different ways a writer of fiction can screw up First Person POV? + giveaway | I Smell Sheep

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

UF Author Louis Corsair: The different ways a writer of fiction can screw up First Person POV? + giveaway

And here I am again! I liked my last post on I Smell Sheep so much that I decided to do another.


That wasn’t a true statement. I don’t think the people who run this blog would have me on just for the hell of it. But, it was a nice fantasy, wasn’t it?

***This is I Smell Sheep...we would love to have you anytime you want to visit! You're out kind of crazy ;)***

So, what is today’s flavor? Hmmm. It has been a while since I’ve shared my (cough) wisdom about writing. The last post I wrote for my blog, which was about the myth of Show-don’t-tell, went pretty well.

I don’t want to revisit that topic.

It’s long and dull. Except to writers. They’re easily amused. True story!

How about…the different ways a writer of fiction can screw up First Person POV?

That sounds great to me (since I’m writing it). And it’s short. I’m limiting these ‘errors’ to just ten. Or maybe five. Yeah. My hand’s arthritic joints are liking five better.

I am using First Person POV right now. You do have to wonder: Who is speaking? Who is this “I” persona? Is it the author whose name appears on the blog post or is it a stage persona?

Typically, most often, most stories, usually, the “I” in the story is the main character. And, if you use the First Person POV, you typically, most often, usually, stick with that person’s thoughts and observations.

This makes sense because, let’s face it, we can’t read minds and we can’t project ourselves to other places and observe what’s going on there.

So, how do writers “screw” this up?

1) The “I” persona is actually the Third Person narrator, who acts like a character—and sometimes he/she is a character.

It’s the ultimate sleight of hand.

The “I” persona knows it all and sees it all. They are the all-seeing “I.” A Third Person Omniscient narrator.

Except they’re not content to simply describe. They will often pause to give you their two cents about what they’re describing.

Third Person POV with attitude!
It’s two stories for the price of one. Lucky you.

1 Example: The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

2) The “I” persona can read minds; they accurately tell the reader what other characters are thinking. This mostly happens in literary books where it’s cool if you do this.

Just to be clear: This type of “I” persona isn’t supposed to be all-knowing, like the narrator of The Book Thief; they somehow know the thoughts of others.

The novel starts out with a character telling you about some event that changed his/her life forever. They start narrating the events of the story and oops!

They tell you what some other person is thinking. And they keep doing it throughout.

Writers like to include these Professor X clones in stories where a Third Person narrator would have been adequate, but not as fun.

2 Examples: Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie; Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

PRO TIP: One way to get a big literary prize, like a Pulitzer, is to write First Person POV this way.

3) The “I” persona can describes events they couldn’t possibly have witnessed—and they do it like they were there. Well, shit, if you’re going to have a character that can read minds, why not break the laws of physics?

It happens like this: The narrator starts to tell you about his/her life and what’s going on in it. Suddenly, they break from the Present and go back in Time to tell you about a family member.

And they don’t just summarize the event. They describe it in great detail, including the thoughts of the characters.

Again, the main culprits of this type booboo are literary authors. Those bastards get away with everything!

3 Examples: Pedro Páramo by Juan Rulfo; The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman by Laurence Sterne; Moby Dick by Herman Melville

4) The “I” persona disappears and secretly starts to narrate in the Third Person.

This usually happens in genre books with lots of action. One minute, you have the narrator telling you his/her innermost thoughts and then a fight breaks out.

It is remarkable that the “I” narrator tells you how his/her fight is going and in the following paragraph, how his/her mates are doing and what cool things they said.

During a fight, you want to focus on what your opponent is doing. Not. Not. Not. Not on the fighting style of the other people in your group.

If you suddenly look away while you’re kicking ass (to check out the way your pals are kicking ass too), you will likely get your ass kicked. Rightly so, for being a dumb ass.

4 Authors who do this: Jim Butcher (Dresden Files); Simon R. Green (The Nightside); Kim Harrison (The Hollows); Louis Corsair (The Elohim Trilogy)

5) The “I” persona can recall events in astonishingly clear detail.

This one is difficult to notice. You open a book and expect the narrator to describe events clearly. As a reader, you want the author to walk you through the story, to keep you engaged. This doesn’t change just because the narrator is describing events in the First Person.

But damn, they have good memory! If you asked me to tell you about my day, I might do it in a summarized fashion.

I woke up and my foot hurt. I went to visit a friend in San Pedro and we watched a movie and had some beers. I think I nodded off during the movie, but I’m not sure about that.

Talk about an unreliable narrator.

Just imagine reading a book like that! No Bueno.

Okay, okay…this is only a “screw up” because it’s impossible for humans to recall events clearly, especially all the events that go into a novel. It is part of the convention of the First Person POV.

But it is one of those necessary evils we writers have to put up with.

Examples? Try every writer who uses First Person POV. Ha!

These aren’t really mistakes. I hope you got that.

I know…

I know…

Sometimes it’s difficult to read the sarcasm in the words.


We writers like to experiment. And that usually leads to breaking conventions—I won’t call them rules.

It’s not really a new phenomenon. Look at novels from the 17th century. Don Quixote (Miguel de Cervantes). Tristram Shandy (Laurence Sterne). Those are some of the first novels. Their authors didn’t hold anything back.

I guess you can say that for writers, breaking established conventions is an established convention.

Ha. Haha.


Absolution: Redux (Elohim Trilogy, #1)

by Louis Corsair
September 15th 2020
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
At the end of the original Absolution, the Executor traveled back in Time and altered Reality. But by doing so, he set in motion a plan to end his existence and collapse Creation. Because of his actions, there is Absolution: REDUX…

In 1947, a gangster murders private investigator Raymond Adams. In 2011, he’s brought back to life for 24 hours to solve the supernatural murder of a Hollywood Adult film star.

When the son of a Pit Lord is murdered in Hollywood, the celestial beings in charge of the Realms ask Raymond Adams to figure who did it and find the victim’s missing soul. Without memories of his life, he accepts the case to gain eternal peace. But the job is daunting:

24 hours to nab a killer…
24 hours to find a missing soul…
24 hours to unravel the victim’s exotic private life…
24 hours to stop a plot to send the universe into chaos…

With only the help of a possessed cop and a medium, Adams must trek through a Hollywood underground filled with pornography, prostitutes, and sadists, along with supernatural monsters. But can he solve the case when his own haunting memories keep surfacing, telling him exactly what kind of man he was in life?

About the Author:
Louis Corsair is an eight-year veteran of the United States Army. Currently living in Los Angeles, California, he spends his time reading books, going on walks, writing, and enjoying the occasional visit to the beach—while trying to earn an honest buck. As a Los Angeles writer, he feels the weight of famous Los Angeles novelists, like Raymond Chandler, John Fante, Nina Revoyr, among others.

In 2021, he hopes to finish the Elohim Trilogy and its connected novels, including The Wizards Collide, and Apotheosis: Book Three of the Elohim Trilogy.

Tour-wide giveaway (INT)
A digital copy of the five books so far published in this series

1 comment:

  1. Thank you again for hosting, my sheep smelling friends. You're my kind of crazy as well. Cheers!