#IWSG POV: Protagonist or Antagonist? @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs

This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts and concerns about our profession.

Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG

The co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG are Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

  • March 6 question Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

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I definitely prefer first person point of view of the protagonist, as a reader and as a writer. My favourite novels, when I started reading adult fiction, in my teens, such as, Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, David Copperfield, and Rebecca, to name a few, were written in this fashion.

The first person narrator, whether he or she is protagonist or antagonist, has the powerful advantage of speaking directly to the reader, but on the other hand, he or she also has the enormous disadvantage of limited knowledge and bias.

The first person narrator cannot be everywhere or be aware of everything the reader would like to know. Moreover, he or she is necessarily biased due to gullibility, innocence, ignorance, physical, or psychological problems, or he or she can be downright evil and purposefully lead everyone along the wrong path, which is usually the case of the antagonist as first person narrator.

The question posed, implies that only one narrator is possible, and that he or she is either protagonist or antagonist, but there are many more options available to the writer. There could be more than one point of view, and more than one protagonist and or antagonist, or the protagonist and antagonist could even be the same person at the same or different stages of his/her life.

The first time I read a novel with various first person narrators was Laura, by Vera Caspary, also in my teenage years. I remember being pleasantly surprised, as a reader, by two aspects, the multiple first person narrators and the presence of unreliable narrators, including the antagonist.

In one of my ‘A’ level texts, The Fall, Camus’ manipulative first person narrator, Jean-Baptiste Clamence, whose long series of monologues is a confession and reflection of his life, to a stranger he calls, ‘cher ami’, thus, mostly using the second person ‘you’. He is also both protagonist and antagonist, as he finally turns the mirror on his patient and unsuspecting listener/reader.

The options are endless. In my case, I’ve published three books and written five (two will hopefully be published this year), and all of them have multiple, first person narrators, including protagonist and antagonist.

Although I don’t mind reading novels written in third person, I can’t see myself doing so. I would especially avoid third person omniscient narrators, mainly because I think it’s all too easy to fall into the trap of manipulating characters, events and readers. I prefer to allow my characters and readers more space to grow and reconstruct their own novel.

I overcome the hurdles inherent to first person narration, at least partly, by having more than one first person narrator, which I believe gives the novel wider scope and perspective.

The Eyre Hall Trilogy has several, rotating first person narrators, and although some readers have complained, most readers have positive opinions. The use of various first person voices is innovative and enriching, but it’s by no means easy to juggle so many characters at once, and it’s not something I’m planning on doing again, at the moment.

My two latest, unpublished novels, both have only two points of view. In one case it is the protagonist and the antagonist, and in the second case a mother and daughter, who are both protagonists. So far, beta readers have responded favourably, and I’m satisfied with the end product, although, one still has to go through the final draft and editing stage.

I think two narrators give enough scope for multiple perspectives to allow readers more space to interact with the narrative.

I will probably experiment with other viewpoints in the future. As I said, I enjoy many  different points of view as a reader, but for the moment, I plan to continue writing novels with, at least, two first person points of view.

Thanks for stopping by and don’t forget to like and/or leave a comment 🙂

What about you, how many and whose point(s) of view do you prefer as a reader and as a writer?

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19 thoughts on “#IWSG POV: Protagonist or Antagonist? @TheIWSG #amwriting #WWWBlogs

  1. Hi Luccia, I’ve been thinking a lot about POV and, as a reader, I do like the first-person narrative. The omniscient third-person is definitely tricky. In the things I’ve written (all unpubished!) I’ve always used that POV, but I can see how it may be tripping me up. Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When I started writing, I wrote almost exclusively in first person. I was influenced by some of those same classic novels, and also by One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. I loved the idea of a first person narrator who is not the protagonist, sort of commenting on and critiquing what the protagonist is doing.

    Some writing teachers suggested that I try third person limited instead, though. For the most part, that’s how I write now. It lets me get into the protagonist’s head while still giving me the option to comment or critique from an outsider’s perspective, if I want.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the first person narrator who is not the protagonist as in OFOTCN, which you mentioned, and The Great Gatsby also comes to mind, is another type of narrator, who combines 1st and 3rd person, because he or she is reporting events.
      I’m glad you found a pov that works for you. As a reader, I enjoy all types of narrators, but so far, as a writer, atm, I feel more confident with first person.
      I try to keep myself out of the narrative, which is probably an illusion, because the author is the ‘one in charge’, or is he/she?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, sometimes I’m not so sure! The characters do seem to take charge of the story quite a bit. The author does not have as much control as most people think, at least in my experience.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I’ve written most of my books with a single 1st-person narrator. I’m intriuged by the idea of trying two alternating voices, though I’d have to find the right sort of book for that (I could see it working for a cozy mystery, but not the series I’m working on now). My fantasy novels, I realize, are both (one published, one still in rough form) 3rd person limited. I have yet to do a true onmiscient narrator, and I think it’s hard to do it well, without just ending up head-hopping.

    Great post—got me thinking! Glad you’ve joined the IWSG.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you! Glad the post was meaningful to you. I pop into IWSG now and again. Lots of ideas and inspiration.
      I think there’s no perfect pov we just have to find the pov that works for us and the story we’re going to tell. My penultimate novel with mother and daughter as narrators works well as both have secrets and know things the other person isn’t aware of, until events collide… Some stories just work well that way. Lots of contemporary romance, especially romantic comedies have his/her pov, which is entertaining and adds to the humour.
      I agree Head hopping is very annoying for the reader and easy to slip into by the writer in 3rd person omniscient.
      I’m sure I’ll keep experimenting we all should, because each story is different, and there’s the challenge!
      Thank you for your comment:)

      Like

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