So, lately I've been worrying more than usual about perspective. Well, and tense as well. I'm just going to put them both under one, broad category.
I, for one, love experimenting with both. Whenever I get an idea, it just comes to me in a specific tense and point-of-view that feel right for the story. It's kind of hard to explain, but I think tense/perspective play an important role in whether a book works or not; they have to be done correctly in order to fit the mood, the message, etc.
Whether I'm reading or writing, I personally don't really care if the story is in past or present tense, if it's in third person or first person or second person or thirty-fourth person ... Whatever. Like I said––as long as it fits the story, it doesn't make a difference to me.
But lately, I've been encountering more people who are much pickier about the subject. For example, somewhat recently I got into a debate about it in a Goodreads group, and I was surprised to see how many people absolutely loathe present tense. There was one girl who even said that, if she reads something in present tense, she automatically thinks it's horrible writing, and that she had never read anything well-written and in the present tense. Mind you, I'm not attacking her, and she's entitled to her opinion of course ... I was just a bit shocked that it made such a difference to her and other people. It hadn't really occurred to me before that it could mean the difference between good and bad writing to someone. Sometimes, a story just comes into my head in present tense, and that's the way I feel it should be written. And after that, I don't really think twice about it.
Then there comes the issue of choosing what person to write a story in. Most of the time, stories naturally come into my head in first person. Although sometimes––usually if there are a lot of important characters in a story I'm writing––I prefer third person.
Now, there's the problem of UNRAVELING––one of my books that uses a lot of second person. Before this story, I had never felt particularly compelled to use second person, but in this case I had a specific reason for doing so. It's kind of difficult to explain, but I felt that it was a very personal story between the main character and her friend (to whom the story is narrated)––the kind of story she wouldn't really be telling to anyone else. However, I received a lot of feedback saying the second person was confusing and that it "shut the reader out" in a way, which isn't something I wanted to do.
Currently, I'm doing another revision of the manuscript in which I try replacing the second person with third person, but I feel like it drastically changes the overall "feel" of the story. And I'm not sure if I like it. But on the other hand, I don't want to lose the interest of readers or literary agents just because I chose the "wrong" way to tell the story.
GAHHH you guys, I really hate being a writer sometimes. I hate when it comes down to deciding how much I want to change just for the sake of pleasing other people. Of course I want my writing to be enjoyable and understandable to my audience, and I'm willing to let go of a lot of things for that purpose. But when it comes to something this big and important, I'm more hesitant. I want to do what I feel is right for the story, but what I think is right might seem wrong to everyone else ... if that makes sense.
Anyway ... I don't want to turn this into a self-pitying rant. I guess my point is to ask you all what you think about tense and perspective. Which ones do you most often use? How much do you think they matter? Do you notice them a lot when you're reading something?