First Person or Third Person?

Reply Fri 9 Mar, 2012 06:52 pm
When I was a writing student, I was taught that speaking (writing) in the first person is more direct and more involving for the reader. Third person (as well using the use of passive voice) distances the reader. Of course limited use of it is a must when the writer needs to set the stage or provide a narrative description or to do some character development.
0 Replies
Reply Fri 9 Mar, 2012 07:20 pm
Not much to add to what others have already said, soz.

But I do want to wish you all the very best with your book. Good luck & good on you for having a go! Smile

As to first or third person character-driven narrative ... I'm easy. It depends so much on the story. Which works best with that particularly story.

And it doesn't have to be just one or the other .... I've read quite a few rivetting novels where the perspective of different characters is explored during different parts of the story, in a variety of ways ... like via letters, their own "voices", etc . I can also recall one example (The French Lieutenant's Woman), where the author (John Fowles) speaks directly to his readers about the frustrations he'd encountered in writing a "suitable" ending .... so he ended up providing us with two, so we could choose our own! Smile

How much use this might or might not be to you, I have no idea. But just saying, feel free to be flexible, if that seems appropriate at some stages of the storyline. No need to stick to only first or third voice, unless that suits best.

Good luck & keep us posted. I'll be really interested to see how this goes!
0 Replies
Reply Fri 9 Mar, 2012 08:12 pm
If the first person character has a truly engaging persona, it can add extra dimensions to the story. So, maybe.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 10 Mar, 2012 03:43 am
As far as 1st or 3rd person goes, only you can answer that, stop thinking about it, and go with what feels most comfortable.

At this point though the temptation is to write something that's perfect, to go over it, and tweak a couple of sentences, maybe rewrite a few bits here and there. This is a temptation you must resist. What's important at this stage isn't writing a good novel, but writing a novel. Don't wait to have the same flash of inspiration and energy before starting on chapter 2, you may have a long wait.

Focus on writing the next bit, don't delete or rewrite anything, never look back, keep plodding on and write every day, even if it's only a couple of sentences. When you've finished your first draft you can worry about turning it into a good book. A mediocre 1st draft with leaden prose is a lot lot better than a couple of sparkling chapters. Good luck.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 10 Mar, 2012 04:50 am
Soz, Which person to use can also depend on how much and what you want the reader to know. First person is limited to what the narrator knows. I think it can help with suspenseful situations. And it can make the writing feel personal.

Third person provides no limitations. While the main character is stranded in the desert, the person who dumped her there is chuckling over a martini. It also provides you with the opportunity to build characters beyond the knowledge of the narrator. Does she know that the nice man down the street was once in jail? No.

What it berls down to is that you have to find your voice.

BTW, it's been my experience, limited though it may be, that when you hit a dry spot and can't come up with anything, it's usually an organizational problem. Thought I'd throw that in. It might not be relevant to you, but it helped me a lot.

I wish you well with this. And enjoy the writing. It can make you soar.
Reply Sat 10 Mar, 2012 06:49 am
Soz, I came back to edit, but I was too late. It wasn't my intention to tell you stuff you already know. Just to suggest that the first or third person provides different kinds of information and that it's up to you to decide what you want the reader to know.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 10 Mar, 2012 09:01 am
Thanks Roberta!

The "stuck" was misleading -- what I meant was that I've made decisions about a lot of other things (whether the main character should be male or female, whether it should be set in the present or the past, etc.,) but this is one thing I haven't been able to decide. That's what I meant by "stuck."

When I started this topic, anyway. The process of trying to convert what I'd already written in first person to third person did not go well. I'm pretty sure this has to be first person. May yet change my mind.

I've been continuing the writing itself lickety-split. We'll see how long that continues, but definitely fun for the time being.

Although it draws on some experiences in my own life, and reliving those emotions has been a bit more powerful than I expected. It's a mixture of "write what you know" and pure adventure science fiction/ fantasy.
0 Replies
Reply Sat 10 Mar, 2012 05:14 pm
I was wondering about combining different first person narratives as well?

How exciting!
0 Replies
Reply Mon 12 Mar, 2012 05:01 pm
Not sure if this is helpful, but I am really liking this reading experience, and it plays on shifting perspectives: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/If_on_a_winter's_night_a_traveler
0 Replies

Related Topics

Liking someone else? - Question by thorlan
Copyright © 2023 MadLab, LLC :: Terms of Service :: Privacy Policy :: Page generated in 0.03 seconds on 02/05/2023 at 06:55:38