Monday, November 9, 2015

POV: 'Peter's Obvious Validation' by Peter Leavell

ACFW loops and other writing blogs are hosting an interesting question—Is it okay to write part of a novel in first person, another part in third person?

I’m embarrassed. My novel published at the beginning of the year, West for the Black Hills is sometimes first person, sometimes third person.

My decision to bungle the writing rules stemmed not from a maxim long ago found to quantify affective writing. The decision came from a deeper magic—relationships.

In life, we become friends with people in different ways. Some friends (or enemies) we work with. Other friends (or enemies) we meet at church. Sometimes we create friendships online. It’s not how we get to know people, it’s the character of the people themselves that matter.

So when I sat down to write West for the Black Hills, I wanted Philip Anderson, the reluctant gunfighter, in first person. But Anna, his sweetheart, was so intriguing she wrote herself in. It's simply how I wanted readers to meet my characters and start a relationship.

Did the method work? Yes, West for the Black Hills won several secular awards already and sales are great. Not because there was some rule about whether you can write a certain way or not, but because of the deeper magic of humanity—we need friends and people we like or hate. The truth carries over into our writing.

Focus on characters, focus on plot, and if they’re good enough, how the reader is introduced to them won’t matter so much.

And maybe your method will spark a topic on writing threads, and your face will turn red, and you’ll need therapy. Although, the awards make good therapy.

Disclaimer: Study writing laws so you know what rules you’re breaking. Remember, there is no magic formula for writing except a good story with compelling characters trumps everything. Also, awards make terrible therapists, and I’m still embarrassed.
Peter Leavell is an award winning historical fiction author. He and his family research together, creating magnificent adventures. Catch up with him on his website at, or friend him on Facebook: Peter R. Leavell. 
Philip Anderson keeps his past close to the vest. Haunted by the murder of his parents as they traveled West in their covered wagon, his many unanswered questions about that night still torment him. 
His only desire is to live quietly on his homestead and raise horses. He meets Anna, a beautiful young woman with secrets of her own. Falling in love was not part of his plan. Can Philip tell her how he feels before it’s too late?
With Anna a pawn in the corrupt schemes brewing in the nearby Dakota town, Philip is forced to become a reluctant gunslinger. Will Philip’s uncannily trained horses and unsurpassed sharpshooting skills help him free Anna and find out what really happened to his family in the wilderness?

1 comment:

  1. Fun and interesting article, Peter. I've read several books where one character was in first person and the rest in third. Funny that there is so much push-back. And yeah, I'd think the awards would help compensate for any embarrassment. :)


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