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Writing from a dead character's POV?
Colleen Lindsay
Posted: Tuesday, February 28, 2012 10:18 PM
Joined: 2/27/2011
Posts: 353

Hi gang -

I recently read LOVELY BONES and I've been thinking about how that book was written from the POV of the main character, who happened to be dead. I was wondering if you've ever read anything else like that, and if you've ever been tempted to write from a dead character's POV. It can be done well (the infamous film Sunset Boulevard comes to mind) but I'm curious what you guys think.

Posted: Sunday, March 4, 2012 2:04 AM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 244

I've never tried it.  Probably because I'm not sure I have the skill to pull it off.  I think that having the POV character already dead at the start of the book runs the risk of alienating your readers.  But it can also draw them in.  It's a tightrope you have to walk, tilting your Wii remote to keep your bal–oh, sorry, playing a little too many video games.

But, that said, Tara Hudson's Hereafter was one of my favorite books I read last year and I'm dying to get my hands on Arise, the next book in the series.  That MC is dead, you know it at the outset, but it works really well.  I think you have to focus more on the internal if your POV character is dead and that can really draw a reader in, making them identify on a deeper level with your character.
GD Deckard
Posted: Sunday, March 4, 2012 9:06 PM
It would probably take more experience than I am willing to give to my craft.
Kevin Haggerty
Posted: Saturday, March 17, 2012 4:04 PM
Joined: 3/17/2011
Posts: 88

Hey Colleen,

I'm reminded of an unpublished novel an old gf was writing when we were together.  It was written from the point of view of the ghost of a black slave woman murdered by the Master, telling the story of her orphaned child, a half-wit, and, as it turns out a werewolf.  It was fine and gothic and had the narrator influencing the plot only glancingly as ghosts are wont to do.  I'm sorry she never finished the book, as far as I know.

I wish more vampire/undead stories felt more like stories told by dead people.  Writers of vampire novels seem hell-bent on denying the true ghost story roots of the genre, in favor of all these silly post-human superheroes.

I've worked on what I would concider a "real" vampire novel, told from the pov of a 2000 year old "creature of the night" but it hasn't worked out yet.  The idea began as a graphic novel and seems much more suited to that medium.  If only there were an extra 20 hours or so in every day!

Robert C Roman
Posted: Tuesday, March 27, 2012 9:51 PM
Joined: 3/12/2011
Posts: 376

I've got a story told partially from the POV of a dead main character queued up to write soon.

While the POV doesn't have the tension of 'will she die / won't she die', if there is still something the character wants and can't get, or has and doesn't want to lose, they're still a viable character in the story, and can still draw people in.

As for seeing it done by others, I enjoyed Ghost Story by Butcher, and I know I've read others written from a dead person's POV, but I can't recall the titles at the moment.

It doesn't quite qualify, but Dust was a pretty good read, written from the POV of a zombie.

So... can it be done? Yeah. Can I do it? Not sure. Am I gonna try? Hells yeah.

LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 12:09 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

I've never thought of writing from a dead character's POV because I never thought I could pull it off. I haven't read much of anything done from that perspective either. While I have written a story from the perspective of Death ages ago, I've never given a spirit or ghosts POV the old college try. Perhaps now I should.

As for vampire stories technically being a take on the dead POV, I think it can still be looked at as them being more "living" due to the interactions. And yes, Kevin, I agree that vampires aren't what they used to be, and it makes me a tad upset since I have a strange connection to the genre/legend (or whatever you want to call it) due to a disease that I have. (If you ever want to know what it's truly like to miss being out in the sunlight without ever having to worry about what it will do to you while you drive, get the mail, or even stand next to a window, shoot me an email.) Let me just say, I have a complicated and conflicted relationship with vampires and all their rabid fans.

Sorry about the tangent. Like I said, vampires can be a touchy subject.

Now I'm going to write down the aforementioned stories so that I can read them.
Posted: Monday, August 6, 2012 10:17 PM
I don't care for writing from the POV of a dead person. BUT the woman who wrote "The Lovely Bones" did a gorgeous job, and we're told right up front the narrator is dead. What I can't stand is getting to the end of a book or a story and the ending being, "And then I died."

Elizabeth Moon
Posted: Sunday, September 9, 2012 2:24 PM
Joined: 6/14/2012
Posts: 194

I wasn't as impressed with The Lovely Bones as I was supposed to be (so people said)  but that's not what your question was.  I have read other stories from the POV of ghosts, but not for some decades, and my memory of titles, authors, etc. has gone blank.   They were all Maguffin stories--the trick to the story was that the person was dead, and the rest of it (there were several "I was murdered and I'm going to find a way to get my murderer" stories, plus various others) was always pretty simple. 

I don't think I'll write from the POV of a dead person, but then I didn't think I'd write some of the other things I've written, so...not going to say for sure.  I would not want to write a "dead person tracking down murderer" or  any story in which just being dead was the reason for picking that protagonist.

Posted: Tuesday, October 23, 2012 2:04 AM
Joined: 3/9/2011
Posts: 16

I haven't read many books that have tried it yet. There is Lovely Bones, which I read in college and then I guess you could say Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver is sort of like that. We know she was in a crash but she lives the same day a number of times over again, making different choices.

Or there are tv shows and movies. I liked the show Dead Like Me, though it didn't last very long. And I did kind of like the Sixth Sense even though it did the whole not to tell till the end trick. 

The closest thing I've written as far as dead pov character is concerned is in a paranormal romance. The demon character starts off as a human, dies and becomes a demon. Does it work? Well, I have to finish writing the book to see what people think. Maybe I'll get my act together and post it on this site some day and we'll find out then.
Posted: Monday, November 5, 2012 10:37 AM
Joined: 11/4/2012
Posts: 1

Im actually starting a book soon where I right from the point of view of the main character, but she just happens to be a zombie

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