The undeniable draw of single POV romance

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Several weeks ago, I found myself in a dreaded reading crisis. I tried countless books, only to write them on a few pages, when I could read at all. I tried fiction, non-fiction, graphic novels, romance novels, YA fantasy, whatever I could to cross. I started four very different audiobooks, ready to sit down to color or play a puzzle game if that meant finishing a book. But nothing was sticking.

Until I pick up The Soul Mate Equation.

Christina Lauren’s books had been a bit of a hit or miss for me over the past couple of years, more due to a preference for tropes and throwing up projectiles than anything else (the latter was Non-honey, BESIDES). But I needed to read it anyway, so I thought I might as well take it.

And then, I didn’t stop. I turned and turned the pages, laughing and smiling and moaning and screaming. The story rocketed forward, and I was ride or die for Jess and River (and Juno). (And Fizzy.)

It would be days later, thinking of books that gave me the same kind of squishy feelings that The soul mate equation, that I realize what these books have in common: Single POV.

In romance (well, in fiction, but we’re talking about romance), there are different ways to write a story:

  • Unique first-person point of view, in which the protagonist tells the story (so it’s from his point of view and he uses “I”)
  • Third-person omniscient, where the narrator knows what’s going on everywhere and will do as many “head flips” as necessary to tell us what everyone else is thinking in a given scene
  • Closed third person, where we’re only inside one person’s head (there can be multiple close third person viewpoints, but it’s basically written the same as first person)
  • There’s also the second person, but it’s not really a love story; I’ve only seen it in literal fiction and fanfiction (lol)

I have read great novels in all of these styles, written in both past and present, and have enjoyed them very much. But the type of story that I hold most dear is the closed third person, with the point of view of only one person.

Why is that, though? Why does my brain click the most with this one?

I’m not quite sure, but it could be… The Mystery.

(Don’t bother with the fact that I don’t really have Lily mysteries.)

Recently, I was talking about romance to a group of people who don’t really read novels, and I was explaining that a good love story asks a question: it asks who are these people and why can’t they be together. Then it takes time to answer this question and solve it. So when you only get one person’s perspective in the relationship, the mystery is even greater! You do not know Why someone might treat the narrator a certain way; you do not know Why they elude the truth; you only have the narrator’s perspective on how their love looks at them – and you only have one person you want to slap anyway you can see what they don’t see. All the questioning, the desire, the growth, the longing, the insecurity, the adoration. You only get it through one person’s eyes and you can see them falling more and more in love with someone else.

As someone who connects very strongly with the characters above anything else, good internal storytelling can make or break a romance for me. To make me love history, you have to make me love its people, whether I find them adorable or expect them to suddenly grow up. You have to Craft I want them to want to go to therapy or stand up to an overbearing parent. You have to make sure the narrator is my heart and soul by the time I’m done with their story, and make me fall in love with the person they fall in love with all the time. And the best way to produce that kind of love, with all those feelings I mentioned before, is to let readers stay with a protagonist, only to get to know the mind of their love interest. When we get to be inside the heads of two (or more) people, we know things that make us more sympathetic or empathetic towards them, when their love interest might not be. We know why they’re an asshole, or who called to get them off their date early. We to know that the other person has feelings for them, even if they’re not sure. Sometimes it’s nice to have that certainty, to go on that journey from everyone’s point of view. But I will get the most satisfaction, the most pleasure, from just one person telling this story.

Which is an interesting discovery to make when the majority of novels being published right now are double POV.

I’ll keep researching what makes the unique point of view so compelling to me – maybe there’s a certain type of writer with a certain type of writing style; perhaps it’s a fanfiction reading story that’s heavily closed in the third person. Maybe, thinking about the writing that I love, there’s an element of both. Either way, I plan to keep tracking them down in order to really dig into that love.

Here are some other simple POV romances that really stuck with me:

honey girl blanket

The love hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Unwritten rules by KD Casey

delicious girl by Morgan Rogers

boyfriend material by Alexis Hall

The Chai factor by Farah Heron

love lettering by Kate Clayborn

Thirsty by Mia Hopkins

Prime

book cover of The Fall of Skye

Fall of Skye by Mia McKenzie

Although it’s not a true romance, there is a romantic arc that ends in an emotionally satisfying way – and it has a narrator that I love. Skye is messy and a bit broken and goes through several journeys in this book. And receives a whole family while she is there.


Are you looking for another point of view on point of view?

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