Too Many Choices

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I’ve been working on the novel “In Mourning” for several years now. It’s finally coming together (I’m over 82k and it will likely end up between 100-110k when it’s complete).

One thing I’m still struggling with is the point of view and tense and I could really use your help deciding which to go with! I’ve taken the first 556 words of the story and created four different versions. Each is labeled with the PoV and the tense. Just comment below or go to my Facebook fan group to let me know which you like best!

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1st Person Present Tense

The wind whips his hair across his face, and he lifts a bare hand to brush it away. The same bitter, late-January wind snakes under the scarf I wear, chilling the sliver of skin between the collar of my shirt and my hairline. I shudder and huddle into my scarf, jamming my hands into the pockets of my overcoat. Heavy, dark wool or not, it isn’t doing a damn thing to keep me warm. The man I’ve been watching doesn’t seem affected by the temperature at all.

A muffled sob from my mother makes me glance away from him. My father’s arm tightens around her shoulder and she leans in to him, resting her head against his shoulder. The aching hole in my chest widens into a chasm at the sight of the casket in front of us.

Because God has chosen to call our brother, Calvin James Allen, from this life to Himself, we commit his body to the earth, for we are dust and onto dust we shall return.

But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory, for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead. So let us commend our brother to the Lord, that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.

The priest’s voice drones on as tears clog my throat. Why, Cal? I wonder. Why the hell did you have to die? You were only twenty-eight!

 Unable to stand the sight of his casket for another second, I look out over the crowd and across the wind-whipped landscape. Mt. Calvary cemetery is perched in the West Hills of Portland with views of the Columbia River, Mt. Ranier, and Mt. St. Helen’s. If Cal has to be buried anywhere, at least it’s a beautiful place. I choke on the thought, unable to comprehend that it’s my baby brother we’re burying.

My gaze sweeps across the bevy of female mourners across the casket from me. There is no rhyme or reason to them, no unifying thread. A crunchy granola hippie chick stands between two women who could have been supermodels. It’s so Cal. He charmed everyone and he’d happily slept with any woman who caught his interest and returned it. Hell, one of them is clearly the Mrs. Robinson type, and at least twenty years Cal’s senior. Cal didn’t really have the attention span for long-term relationships, so most were probably one night stands or short, casual relationships, and yet, they’ve braved the cold January drizzle and look devastated by his death. He inspired that in people.

His male friends are easy to spot as well, all sporty, adventure-seeking types like Cal had been and those friends were grieving hard. But one man stood out and I find my gaze repeatedly returning to him. He’s tall, lean to the point of being lanky, with tangled black hair and sharp, high cheekbones. He’s young—early twenties at most—and almost androgynous looking. Dressed less formally than the majority of the mourners, he stands out in his black beanie and black peacoat layered over a grey hoodie. But it isn’t so much his dress as his expression that strikes me. He looks gutted, his eyes hollow and distant as he stares at the casket.

He looks the way I feel.

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1st Person Past Tense

The wind whipped his hair across his face, and he lifted a bare hand to brush it away. The same bitter, late-January wind snaked under the scarf I wore, chilling the sliver of skin between the collar of my shirt and my hairline. I shuddered and huddled into my scarf, jamming my hands into the pockets of my overcoat. Heavy, dark wool or not, it wasn’t doing a damn thing to keep me warm. The man I’d been watching didn’t seem affected by the temperature at all.

A muffled sob from my mother made me glance away from him. My father’s arm tightened around her shoulder and she leaned in to him, resting her head against his shoulder. The aching hole in my chest widened into a chasm at the sight of the casket in front of us.

Because God has chosen to call our brother, Calvin James Allen, from this life to Himself, we commit his body to the earth, for we are dust and onto dust we shall return. 

But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory, for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead. So let us commend our brother to the Lord, that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.

The priest’s voice droned on as tears clogged in my throat. Why, Cal? I wondered. Why the hell did you have to die? You were only twenty-eight!

 Unable to stand the sight of his casket for another second, I looked out over the crowd and across the wind-whipped landscape. Mt. Calvary cemetery was perched in the West Hills of Portland with views of the Columbia River, Mt. Ranier, and Mt. St. Helen’s. If Cal had to be buried anywhere, at least it was a beautiful place. I choked on the thought, unable to comprehend that it was my baby brother we were burying.

My gaze swept across the bevy of female mourners across the casket from me. There was no rhyme or reason to them, no unifying thread. A crunchy granola hippie chick stood between two women who could have been supermodels. It was so Cal. He charmed everyone and he’d happily slept with any woman who caught his interest and returned it. Hell, one of them was clearly the Mrs. Robinson type, and at least twenty years Cal’s senior. Cal didn’t really have the attention span for long-term relationships, so most were probably one night stands or short, casual relationships, and yet, they’d braved the cold January drizzle and looked devastated by his death. He inspired that in people.

His male friends were easy to spot as well, all sporty, adventure-seeking types like Cal had been and those friends were grieving hard. But one man stood out and I found my gaze repeatedly returning to him. He was tall, lean to the point of being lanky, with tangled black hair and sharp, high cheekbones. He was young—early twenties at most—and almost androgynous looking. Dressed less formally than the majority of the mourners, he stood out in his black beanie and black peacoat layered over a grey hoodie. But it wasn’t so much his dress as his expression that struck me. He looked gutted, his eyes hollow and distant as he stared at the casket.

He looked the way I felt.

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3rd Person Present Tense

The wind whips his hair across his face, and he lifts a bare hand to brush it away. The same bitter, late-January wind snakes under the scarf Chris wore, chilling the sliver of skin between the collar of his shirt and his hairline. He shudders and huddles into his scarf, jamming his hands into the pockets of his overcoat. Heavy, dark wool or not, it isn’t doing a damn thing to keep him warm. The man he’s been watching doesn’t seem affected by the temperature at all.

A muffled sob from his mother makes Chris glance away from him. HIs father’s arm tightens around her shoulder and she leans in to him, resting her head against his shoulder. The aching hole in Chris’s chest widens into a chasm at the sight of the casket in front of them.

Because God has chosen to call our brother, Calvin James Allen, from this life to Himself, we commit his body to the earth, for we are dust and onto dust we shall return.

But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory, for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead. So let us commend our brother to the Lord, that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.

The priest’s voice drones on as tears clog Chris’s throat. Why, Cal? he wonders. Why the hell did you have to die? You were only twenty-eight!

 Unable to stand the sight of his casket for another second, Chris looks out over the crowd and across the wind-whipped landscape. Mt. Calvary cemetery is perched in the West Hills of Portland with views of the Columbia River, Mt. Ranier, and Mt. St. Helen’s. If Cal has to be buried anywhere, at least it’s a beautiful place. He chokes on the thought, unable to comprehend that it’s his baby brother they’re burying.

Chris’s gaze sweeps across the bevy of female mourners across the casket from him. There’s no rhyme or reason to them, no unifying thread. A crunchy granola hippie chick stands between two women who could have been supermodels. It’s so Cal. He charmed everyone and he’d happily slept with any woman who caught his interest and returned it. Hell, one of them is clearly the Mrs. Robinson type, and at least twenty years Cal’s senior. Cal didn’t really have the attention span for long-term relationships, so most were probably one night stands or short, casual relationships, and yet, they’ve braved the cold January drizzle and look devastated by his death. He inspired that in people.

His male friends are easy to spot as well, all sporty, adventure-seeking types like Cal had been and those friends are grieving hard. But one man stands out and Chris finds his gaze repeatedly returning to him. He’s tall, lean to the point of being lanky, with tangled black hair and sharp, high cheekbones. He’s young—early twenties at most—and almost androgynous looking. Dressed less formally than the majority of the mourners, he stands out in his black beanie and black peacoat layered over a grey hoodie. But it isn’t so much his dress as his expression that strikes Chris. He looks gutted, his eyes hollow and distant as he stares at the casket.

He looks the way Chris feels.

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3rd Person, Past Tense

The wind whipped his hair across his face, and he lifted a bare hand to brush it away. The same bitter, late-January wind snaked under the scarf Chris wore, chilling the sliver of skin between the collar of his shirt and his hairline. He shuddered and huddled into his scarf, jamming his hands into the pockets of his overcoat. Heavy, dark wool or not, it wasn’t doing a damn thing to keep him warm. The man he’d been watching didn’t seem affected by the temperature at all.

A muffled sob from his mother made Chris glance away from him. HIs father’s arm tightened around her shoulder and she leaned in to him, resting her head against his shoulder. The aching hole in Chris’s chest widened into a chasm at the sight of the casket in front of them.

Because God has chosen to call our brother, Calvin James Allen, from this life to Himself, we commit his body to the earth, for we are dust and onto dust we shall return.

But the Lord Jesus will change our mortal bodies to be like His in glory, for He is risen, the firstborn of the dead. So let us commend our brother to the Lord, that the Lord may embrace him in peace and raise up his body on the last day.

The priest’s voice droned on as tears clogged in Chris’s throat. Why, Cal? he wondered. Why the hell did you have to die? You were only twenty-eight!

Unable to stand the sight of his casket for another second, Chris looked out over the crowd and across the wind-whipped landscape. Mt. Calvary cemetery was perched in the West Hills of Portland with views of the Columbia River, Mt. Ranier, and Mt. St. Helen’s. If Cal had to be buried anywhere, at least it was a beautiful place. He choked on the thought, unable to comprehend that it was his baby brother they were burying.

Chris’s gaze swept across the bevy of female mourners across the casket from him. There was no rhyme or reason to them, no unifying thread. A crunchy granola hippie chick stood between two women who could have been supermodels. It was so Cal. He charmed everyone and he’d happily slept with any woman who caught his interest and returned it. Hell, one of them was clearly the Mrs. Robinson type, and at least twenty years Cal’s senior. Cal didn’t really have the attention span for long-term relationships, so most were probably one night stands or short, casual relationships, and yet, they’d braved the cold January drizzle and looked devastated by his death. He inspired that in people.

His male friends were easy to spot as well, all sporty, adventure-seeking types like Cal had been and those friends were grieving hard. But one man stood out and Chris found his gaze repeatedly returning to him. He was tall, lean to the point of being lanky, with tangled black hair and sharp, high cheekbones. He was young—early twenties at most—and almost androgynous looking. Dressed less formally than the majority of the mourners, he stood out in his black beanie and black peacoat layered over a grey hoodie. But it wasn’t so much his dress as his expression that struck Chris. He looked gutted, his eyes hollow and distant as he stared at the casket.

He looked the way Chris felt.

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Which version do you like best?

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