A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

We find our genre delightfully, dangerously, and deliciously exciting - join us here, if you do too!

Julie Moffet . Cathy Perkins . Jean Harrington . Daryl Anderson . Nico Rosso . Maureen A Miller . Sandy Parks . Lisa Q Mathews . Sharon Calvin . Lynne Connolly . Janis Patterson . Vanessa Keir . Tonya Kappes . Julie Rowe . Joni M Fisher . Leslie Langtry

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


I've been puzzling for the last week or so about what to write for this blog. We've covered so many great topics here at Not Your Usual Suspects, it can be difficult to try to come up with something witty and interesting to blog about. Certainly not my life, that's for sure. (Big evil grin.) Dull and boring, the daily grind recently has left its mark on my creativity. Long hours of working, day in and day out, has drain any desire to sit in front of the computer and let the words flow.

Earlier today, though, I read a blog post by one of my DARA chapter-mates about why she writes in first person. That got me thinking. What makes our creative brains pick one point of view (POV) over another?

I think some stories cry out for first person point of view. Urban fantasy, paranormal, chick lit and even some young adult scream for the story to be told from only thee main character's point of view. The writer can literally become the eyes and ears of the main character, using their point of view as the camera that sees everything and imparts it to the reader. First person point of view can sometimes seem to delve deeper into the main characters feelings, hopes, and dreams; but, we can't forget all the other players in the story either. As authors, we have to make sure their emotions are portrayed realistically and can be interpreted by the main POV character.

Me, I tend to write just about everything in third person. I like being able to immerse myself and the reader into the thoughts and emotions of more than one character throughout the story. When I'm writing a scene, I try to decide who gets the most impact from that particular scene and write it from their perspective. Does the heroine have more to lose? Then I'm inside her head, spilling her emotions on the page for the reader to see. Will the scene cause the hero moments of torture or agony? Let's spread his POV across the pages. Even at times, when it's appropriate, let's hop into the villain's head and take the reader on a roller coaster ride through what he thinks, what he feels.

Since I write in third person, I'm including a small excerpt from Desperate Choices, available now from Carina Press, as an example. Hopefully you can see that we're in Max (the hero's) point of view, seeing what he sees, feeling the emotions that he feels.

Behind the wheel of the car, Max angled his head and watched Theresa. She sat silent and unmoving, just as she had since they’d left her shop. His gaze slid slowly along the length of her, and he definitely liked what he saw. He never paid much attention to her when she and Remy first began hanging out together. She’d been way too young. He’d rarely been home then, staying in Shreveport while attending LSU.

Max didn’t really understand Theresa and Remy’s friendship. They were so diametrically different, yet their friendship endured all these years.

Theresa had spent a lot of time at their house, all the holidays, birthdays, even family reunions. She was practically a member of the family, at least to everybody but him. He’d never had the remotest familial thought about her. When he looked at her, she set him aflame.
Every damn time there was a get-together, she’d been included. Until about a year ago. Things started to change then. He stopped seeing her as Remy’s best friend. Instead he saw a sexy, vibrant, eye-catching woman. A woman he wanted in a primitive, gut-wrenching and wholly masculine way. His body ached with wanting her. He’d been avoiding her like the plague ever since. A relationship was a complication he couldn’t afford in his life right now.

“Pull over here.” Her voice drew his attention back to the road. He angled the car over to the side of the pavement. Coasting to a stop, he swiveled to face the passenger side, watching Theresa closely.

“Why here?” he asked in a deceptively quiet voice, careful to betray nothing. An amazing coincidence. She’d told him to stop at the exact location the police discovered Tommy’s cellphone. Just a lucky guess. Doesn’t mean a damn thing.

Opening the passenger door, Theresa stepped from the car. Max got out and walked around the front to join her where she stood. He watched her take several steps forward and then backtrack. Her eyelids were shuttered, as if by closing them, she could obscure her surroundings.

For a few tense moments, he watched and waited. In a whispered tone, she finally spoke. “Give me the cellphone.”

Quiet resolve and determination filled her face. Reaching through the passenger-side window, he plucked the manila envelope from the front seat and handed it to her. Then he stood back and watched.

Omniscient POV isn't used as much these days. I'm not even sure I could try to do it justice in describing it. All those you can, you might, you should . . . so mostly its first person POV or third person POV.

I'm curious. In writing romantic suspense, suspense, and/or mysteries, which do you prefer to write in? Better yet, which do you prefer to read? Tell me all about it . . .


Wynter Daniels said...

Love the excerpt! I prefer to read and write in third person, mostly because I prefer books with more than one POV character. That's not to say I haven't written in first person, I have, although I found it difficult not to slip back into third!

Addison said...


Great post! I love the various decisions you go through as a writer to put the best story on the page and POV selection is definitely a piece of that.

That said, putting on my reader hat, I love my romance in third person. I love watching the hero and heroine fall in love and get both their perspectives while it's happening.


Vicki said...

Since you read my blog yesterday - lol - you know how I feel. But I'd like to point out very famous mystery and thriller authors do write in first person. Stories are told through the protagonist's eyes, but isn't that how life is lived?

You're the best!

Kathy Ivan said...

Wynter: Thanks so much. While I do read both first and third person, I almost always write in third, it's just for some reason more comfortable for me.

Glad you liked the excerpt from Desperate Choices, too. :-)

Addison: My friend! So glad you stopped by. I agree, I much prefer third person for reading and writing romance. Love being immersed into the emotions and thoughts of both parties involved. Thanks so much for dropping by.

Vicki: Girlfriend, you rock! You are so good at writing first person, I can't imagine you writing anything else. And, yes, I know some terrific suspense and thriller authors who write in first person, too. :-)

MaureenAMiller said...

I too am a fan of the third person, both as a reader and writer. I will often use a 50/50 perspective from the hero and heroine, although editors in the past warned me that I should favor the heroine.

I loved your excerpt, Kathy!

Angelyn said...

I'm adding my support for 3rd person as well for romance. The cool thing I'm discovering when writing the second book in a series is getting the pov of the secondary characters from the first book!

Toni Anderson said...

I write in 3rd person and think I like 3rd person best to read, but some of my all time favorites turn out to be 1st person POV. Warprize trilogy for example. I guess, like they say, it is all in the execution!

Kathy Ivan said...

Maureen: I think I do the same split between the hero and the heroine with just a small amount given over to the villain. Although for romance they do like a bit more POV from the heroine. I'm guessing because most readers of romance are women.

Angelyn: Thanks so much for stopping by today. It seems to be running more in favor of third person POV today, doesn't it. I do understand what you are saying, though, about trying to get the POV of the secondary characters right. (I'm struggling with that right now myself.)

Toni: While I do read mostly in third person point of view, I think some storie--when well written--just scream for the story to be told in first person. Warprize was just one such story, I agree. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

Anne Marie Becker said...

I'm a third-person kind of gal. Not sure if that's because those are the types of stories I've always read, and therefore my brain thinks that way when I write, or some other reason, but my POV of choice is 3rd.

Elise Warner said...

My debut cozy is in first person and my second a mystery will be in first but I've written many short stories in third. Enjoyed the excerpt from your book. Edge of the seat.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Good excerpt, Kathy, and interesting discussion. I'm most comfortable with third person, but essentially that's because it's hard to sustain a strong plot in first person--at least for me, it is!

Kathy Ivan said...

Anne Marie: I do think sometimes our brain is trained to write like we are used to reading; if most of what we read is third, then our brains seem to process our writing in the same fashion. At least for me that seems to be the case.

Elise: Thanks. I tried to pick an excerpt that would give an idea of who I write in third person, but also leave you with a bit of a tease. I read your first book, too, and first person was very appropraite for the story.

Marcelle: I'm with you in that if I begin writing in first person, pretty soon I find myself slipping back into third, because that's what I'm comfortable with. Maybe some day I'll try to do a story strictly in first person POV and seen if I can actually do it from start to finish. Thanks for dropping by.

Shirley Wells said...

Great post and great excerpt!

Years ago, I used to write a lot of short stories and probably wrote 50/50 first/third person. All my mystery novels are written in third person though. As a reader and writer, I like multi POV.

Janis Patterson said...

Loved the excerpt, Kathy.

As for first/third person, my personal preference is definitely for first. It is so much easier to write and I find it more pleasurable to read.

That said, I will admit to having written both. Which I choose depends on the needs of the story. Some are definitely first, while others can only be served by third. Unfortunately, sometimes it takes a fair amount of writing to discover which one is best!

I say let the story dictate which person is used - it will be better for it.

Stevie Carroll said...

I prefer to write in third person for most longer stories, but some short stories lend themselves to first person.

For reading, I'll go with either so long as it's done well.

Julie Moffett said...

Great excerpt, Kathy!

I wrote my first 9 books in 3rd person until a few years ago when I started my new series in first person. OMG! I LOVE it. It is isn't for the faint of heart, however. It takes a lot of work to keep the pacing tight because you only have the viewpoint of one character. She/He can't be alone for long or all you have is introspection! But it is a writing challenge I love.

Clare London said...

Great excerpt!

And you've made me think about why I like 1st person best. I use what I call the "method school" of writing :) i.e. I like to immerse myself in the character and speak from their POV. So 1st suits me very well! I think it's particularly well suited to mystery writing, too, if the author hopes to keep other people's actions hidden.

1st person also helps me avoid head-hopping with my narrative LOL.

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