Tips for YA Lit: Point of View (Part 2)

Tips for YA Lit: 

Point of View 
(Part 2)

This 3-part blog won't be only tip giving, but also showing the struggles that arise with narrative point of view in young adult literature. Narrative style can make or break a book and turn off some readers, at least for me. Part of the narrative style consists of point of view, meaning the way in which the story is told or the lens of the storyteller. There are three commonly used points of view (I'm skipping second person "you" as it isn't very popular in novel form) defined in bold below followed by pros and cons when it comes specifically to YA storytelling. I tackled first person in part 1 last week (see POV Part 1), so here is part 2.

Third person limited omniscience--"He/she" is used but thoughts and events are limited to a character's presence. It combines the detail and personality that comes with first-person and third-person omniscience but we readers can only see so far.
  • Pros--by far this is my favorite. The reader can get a similar experience as first person, yet the use of pronouns "he or she" allows us some room for aligning ourselves with the character. This character can be vastly different from readers and the readers can still feel like a part of the story, not like they are that character but they know him/her almost as well as themselves. This viewpoint gives us a lot of dramatic irony which is when a character may not understand something that we readers can. 
  • Cons--I really can't think of many drawbacks to this POV except that readers feel the loss of a direct connection and prefer "I" or authors feel it is too limiting. A fix for this is to extend the omniscience to two characters. This one is popular in romance where we get the "he said, she said" gist of things. This is a way to create a lot of irony through misunderstandings and events the readers know about but the characters do not. I also suggest dividing narratives into separate chapters so head-hopping doesn't occur. Head-hopping is when the author jumps into one brain into the next without us being able to tell who is thinking what. A differentiation and clear labels are needed.
Popular third person limited omniscience novels--Harry Potter Series, The Diviners (although each chapter is a different chracter) and City of Bones.

In the end, when it comes down to it, what POV is chosen is up to the author's preference. They all can work, and readers buy books in both first or third person. For YA books, first person seems pretty strong, although with the popularity comes the criticism too. Third person, seems the safe bet, but author's have to work harder to make it more personal.