Most romances are written in third person, alternating between the point of view of one person who falls in love and the other person who falls in love. (I’ve never read polyamorous romance and I imagine you usually get three or more points of view in those, although I can’t say for sure.) Mind you, flipping back and forth between one POV and the other frequently within a scene, or “head-hopping,” is frowned upon.

Occasionally in romance you might also have a couple of scenes in the POV of a villain, or a best friend who’s going to star in the next book in the series, or someone like that.

If I were a sensible author, I’d just think, “Okay, writing in third person is how it’s usually done in romance, so that’s how I’ll always do it.”

 

 

But, no.

I wrote The Phoenix Codex in first person, and then later saw the error of my ways and rewrote the whole thing in third person. This meant that in the editing phase, I kept on finding misplaced I’s and my’s and our’s everywhere.

I wrote it in first person because I thought the heroine was kind of hilarious. The truth is, though, you can get most of that humor in third person as long as you’re in deep point of view and getting into the character’s internal monologue.

Here’s why I switched, and why I think writing in third person is the best choice for most romances. However, every book is different!

 

 

Why Are Most Romances Written in 3rd Person? Learn About a Few Reasons Here! #romance novels #writing in third person #writing in first person #POV #point of view #do I write my novel in first person or third person

 

1. It’s easier for the reader to fall in love with both characters this way.

For my novella Wicked Garden, more than one beta reader noted where they really fell for the hero. It wasn’t in her point of view, when she initially meets him and she thinks he’s all handsome and charming and has it all together. It was in his point of view, when they realize that he has a big crush on her and that he’s struggled with a mental health issue.

It’s easier to make a connection with a character when you’re inside their head. And in The Phoenix Codex, my hero, Jonathan West, is scary and intimidating in the opening scene. By getting into his head in chapter two, I could show that he’s a good man who’s trying to do a hard job while dealing with grief.

 

2. You can achieve dramatic irony, which is delicious.

It’s really fun (and sometimes enjoyably maddening) for a reader to know things that the character doesn’t. To use a classic example from the genre, let’s say the heroine thinks the hero is cold, distant, even contemptuous. But in fact, since we were just in his head in the last chapter, we know that he’s obsessed with her and trying to fight his urges for some noble reason or other, so he’s just trying to keep her at arm’s length.

This is one of those things that keeps us reading. We want to get to the part where the character learns what we already know.

It’s possible for the reader to know more than the main character in a novel that’s in first person, but your readers may feel that she’s unobservant or naïve for not figuring things out. Then again, you might be able to create a truly lovable unobservant or naïve character.

 

3. You can make the reader feel adored.

One thing a lot of women readers love in M/F romance is the fantasy of the hero being absolutely crazy about the heroine.

People don’t say every single thing that they are thinking and feeling, and one might make the case that men are less socially conditioned to put their feelings into words (although of course it varies from person to person.) If you’re in the hero’s point of view, you have more chances to show how much he admires, wants, and adores the heroine, which can make the reader swoon.

Although I’m talking mostly about M/F romance for this point, I’m sure this principle carries over to other types of romance as well!

 

4. More people dislike first person than dislike third person.

I haven’t done a scientific study, but I’ve been involved in several conversations about this as a writer and a reader. Because people are so accustomed to third person, it has very few detractors.

 

All this being said, a first person point of view might be the right choice for your book. Even if you are writing in first person, this might help you think about things you need to get across in creative ways because of your choice. You may need to make your non-POV leading man or woman to be a real communicator, or you may need to take extra care to set up events that reveal his or her character.

How do you feel about first person versus third person? Are you writing a story in one or the other now? I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Thanks for reading, and happy writing!