Readers, of course, want the story, they want the author to get on base. They don't care if it's a Texas-leaguer, one of those balls that bloop over the infielder's heads; a long single, left, right, or buzzing by the pitcher's head; a base on balls; or even if the writer gets hit by a pitch, they just want the writer to somehow get the story told. But other ballplayers and coaches care about methodology, of course, and writers, editors, and agents care about Point of View.
This often boils down to whether to tell a story from first person or third or the art of limiting third person narration. Too many POVs too close together tend to confuse the reader, thereby taking away from the author's chances of getting to first.
Other choices are available. Jay McInerney lit up the stadium when he used a continual second person in his 1984 debut novel, Bright Lights Big City with his unnamed narrator, starting with the sentences "You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are, and you cannot say that the terrain is entirely unfamiliar, although the details are fuzzy." Joshua Ferris wrote, in 2007 Then We Came to the End completely in third-person plural, "we," from the POV of a group of people working at an ad agency. In my January 2010 blog about Tobias Wolff's Old School, I detail how he starts in third person plural, writes most of the novel in first person, and writes the final chapter in third person singular from yet another POV to masterfully end his tale.
Antoinette May and I are teaching POV this weekend at Gold Rush Writers and in the Fall at the East of Eden conference in Salinas, so we've been dutifully making copies of texts and organizing our thoughts. But the bottom line is that the writer has to find some way to get down to first base, that is, to get his or her story told. While few essays are being written on which point of view Margaret Mitchell used to write Gone with the Wind, that story has been enjoyed by many more people than all those previously-mentioned together. POV is a method; audiences want a story.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose, East Palo Alto Police Activities League (EPA PAL), Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Yale Writing Conference, Gold Rush Writers