What Is in a Pronoun?

Why do people automatically think that 1st POV delves deeper into a character than 3rd?

I’m sure many of you wonder what I mean. Well, I’ve been scouting the big wide web for opinions on POVs. 1st or 3rd? Past or present… etc. But one thing I found in comparing 1st and 3rd is that so many people say 1st is closer. In what sense though? Closer for the reader or closer for the character?

Many are referring to the character in that if you write in 1st POV then you instantly have access to what a character is thinking and feeling. True. But the same can be said for a close 3rd POV. 

I’ve written in both and pulled off some good connecting moments because I delved deep into the mind and senses of my characters. So apart from pronouns, all the descriptions are just as meaningful and deep into my POVs.

So is it the name that’s causing the issue and the lack of “I” pronouns that make a character feel more expressive to the reader? 

Let’s take a look shall we? 

Leather met my fingers—solid leather. I fumbled, the hard spines of books meeting my palms, and bit down my sob of relief. A lifeline in a violent sea; I felt my way down the stack, running now. It ended too soon. I took another blind step forward, touched my way around a corner of another stack.

From Sarah J. Maas. A Court of Wings and Fury.

Compared to the sunlit hallway, the interior that stretched beyond them seemed formidably dark, but as she stepped inside, candelabras came into view, along with black-and-white marble floors, large mahogany tables with red velvet chairs, a slumbering fire, mezzanines, bridges, ladders, railings, and then books—books and books and books. She’d entered a city made entirely of leather and paper. Celaena put a hand against her heart. Escape routes be damned. 

Sarah J. Maas. Throne of Glass: 1 (p. 56). Bloomsbury Publishing. Edición de Kindle. 

I purposely chose the same author, a favourite of mine, because Sarah makes my point quite nicely since her Throne of Glass series is in 3rd POV while her Court of Thorns and Roses is in 1st POV. But looking at the above snippets, which feels closer? 

Again, I purposely chose these snippets because they are describing very similar surroundings. They’re simple descriptions, nothing overly emotional yet both express some emotion. “Bit down my sob of relief” and “Celaena put a hand against her heart” both hint at the same level of emotion over something as simple as books. 

I could go on, but I think you get the point. There is no “1st POV is deeper than 3rd”. Only the reader can ultimately decide that based on the named character or the “I” pronoun. We, as writers, can swap these at any time and the emotions expressed would not change, only the reader’s level of connection to said emotions.

I can honestly say that I rarely notice a difference. Sure, we instantly get a name with 3rd POV, or at least we should. But with 1st? As I asked in Hi. My Name Is…, how often do we think of our own names to make the MC’s name that important in 1st POV?

So ask yourself, what’s in a pronoun that 1st POV is deeper than 3rd?

One response to “What Is in a Pronoun?”

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