1. Sleepy
    Offline

    Sleepy New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0

    1st and 3rd person

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sleepy, Jun 7, 2011.

    ive got a story and i want 2 use both 1st and 3rd person in different sections i'm wondering whether people think this willl work
     
  2. skeloboy_97
    Offline

    skeloboy_97 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2010
    Messages:
    181
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Australia
    I'm personally a first person writer, and hate third person writing (no offence to any 3rd person writers.) But no, i don't believe the two should be mixed together as the reader may begin to get confused.

    Tell me what you think,

    Cheers.
     
  3. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I did that in the first draft of my first novel, but I didn't like the effect of it, it was just the natural way of writing it for me. But I've now changed that first person to third as well. Somehow it comes out strange, not at all like the third person of the other characters, I Don't know why that is. but im leaving it this way, because I still like it better. Im not sure what readers or agents/publishers would have to say about it though.
     
  4. Sleepy
    Offline

    Sleepy New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    cheers yeah i had a feeling itd come of strange good to hear what u think
     
  5. Reggie
    Offline

    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 10, 2010
    Messages:
    680
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    USA
    I have never thought about switching perspectives, but I beleive that it has been done before. I'm not really sure if it will work (I'm quite sure it may), because I rarely read books in the first person perspective.

    I like writing 3rd person, and for some reason, I don't like writing the first person, because it's very limiting and you can only see through the eyes of one character. If you have like three characters, and you want to switch to the other character's perspective, as me being an unexperienced book writer, I would find it hard for me to do, but I beleive in general it can be done. I just don't, for some reason, feel comfortable switching perspectives, especially as me being a new writer.
     
  6. Rascal
    Offline

    Rascal Member

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2011
    Messages:
    24
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    In a rubber room
    I remember this old science fiction book I read a while back that used both first and third person throughout the entire narrative. The reason the author did it was because there were different characters with different voices. The main character would talk in first person, then it would move to the love interest in third person (I don't remember if it was omniscient or not). I thought the transitions were well and artfully done. (The book is called Enchantress from the Stars if you are interested).

    However, I have never tried this technique before, and I can see why most don't. If you decide to do it, you run a very high risk of confusing the audience, and making you work look sloppy.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't try it if you think you can pull it off, I'm just warning you that sticking to one point of view might be a better route.
     
  7. East
    Offline

    East Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2011
    Messages:
    51
    Likes Received:
    1
    If I'm not mistaken, Margaret Atwood did this effectively in her novel 'Oryx and Crake'. She used the first person narrative for sections of the story that were meant to be a distopian present for the main character, then used third person for flashbacks.
     
  8. cruciFICTION
    Offline

    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    This was used in the Warhammer novel Hammers of Ulric if I'm not mistaken. Third person when dealing with the group of characters, alternated to first person from the perspective of some guy in a black robe (not an antagonist or anything. Pretty sure he was an undertaker or something).

    It has been done. It has been done well. It has been done badly. Really, what you have to be careful of is the first person parts. First person is not often done well. So, good luck.
     
  9. darkhaloangel
    Offline

    darkhaloangel Active Member

    Joined:
    May 27, 2011
    Messages:
    190
    Likes Received:
    5
    The Amulet of Samarkand switches between 3rd person and 1st person. It gives the reader an intimacy with a friendly character, but a stand offish approach to a more cold character. It works really well.

    It's check the book out because I remember it being a really good read.
     
  10. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    I've seen this done on a number of occasions, and I have used it myself. Most often, I've seen it used wherein the narrator is a minor character in the story. Harper Lee used this technique in "To Kill A Mockingbird", James Michener used it in several of his novels. I have also seen it used where the narrator is one of the major characters, and his/her part of the story is in 1st person but the rest is in 3rd. Michener did this in "The Novel", which was divided into four parts, each the story of a different person in the publishing process; the 1st part was The Author, and that was written in 1st person while the other three sections were written in 3rd person but also from the viewpoint of a different narrator. That narration included the character who'd earlier been speaking in first person. I strongly recommend it as a good read for aspiring writers as well as an effective demonstration of an interesting technique.

    Bottom line: yes, you can certainly switch, and it has been done before.
     
  11. wallomrslug
    Offline

    wallomrslug Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2011
    Messages:
    38
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Necastle
    Out of interest OP, what are your reasons for wanting to switch between first and third person?
    Is it to show different perspectives of various characters or are you doing this with the same character?
     
  12. _Lulu_
    Offline

    _Lulu_ Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2011
    Messages:
    96
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    UK
    I asked this same question the other day here http://www.writingforums.org/showthread.php?t=42018 (If you want to check out the replies there too) :)

    although, I do have another question regarding it :redface: I'll ask over there though.
     
  13. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Actually, this question, or something like it, seems to pop up quite often. Not sure why.
     
  14. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It CAN work, but frankly, of you have to ask the question, you probably don't have the skill to pull it off.
     
  15. lostinwebspace
    Offline

    lostinwebspace Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 5, 2011
    Messages:
    466
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Canada
    Robert Sawyer did this once. I can't remember the name of the book (I think it was Calculating God). Anyway, first person books should be written where the narrator is always present, but what Sawyer did was, when he was in the head of his narrator, he used first. When he needed to go elsewhere, he used third. He did it for a total of about three chapters (maybe fifteen pages), so he didn't switch much, but he switched.
     
  16. JimFlagg
    Offline

    JimFlagg Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    6
    It is difficult enough just to write in First Person; trying to keep the tenses the same and making sure your narratives and dialogs follows the same format through out. Switching person POV would add that much more that you have to keep track of. If you must do it I would do it as a separate chapter and keep that POV through out in that chapter.

    I highly recommend you post some samples in the Novel section of the forum for people to double check your work.

    Good Luck.
     
  17. Jonp
    Offline

    Jonp Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    3
    I'm surprised there's so many different views on this. I started writing my book in first and third person, first person for chapters told from the POV of the main character and third person for everything else. It's just how I wrote it, I never thought anything of it.
     
  18. JimFlagg
    Offline

    JimFlagg Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2011
    Messages:
    375
    Likes Received:
    6
    Just wondering, how did it turn out?
     
  19. Jonp
    Offline

    Jonp Senior Member

    Joined:
    Apr 6, 2011
    Messages:
    114
    Likes Received:
    3
    In terms of?

    I've not finished writing it, but I've not had any problems, and no one who's read it (which is like practically two people!) have any problems with it. If anything, I've found it rather enjoyable and actually helps build atmosphere at points.

    Example: There's a chapter in first person in which the main character and her friend enter a huge tower, not knowing about the creature that lives within. The next chapter is in the tower told in third person and follows the monster as it creeps up on them, and the ensuing battle. I think it made it more atmospheric, having the reader suddenly disconnect from the main character in a rather jarring way and being, well, sort of helpless, just reading as this thing is after her.
     
  20. carsun1000
    Offline

    carsun1000 Active Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2011
    Messages:
    158
    Likes Received:
    31
    James Patterson does it all the time and it works for him. But then he is a well established author. When you are that high up, you can do whatever you want and people will still pick up your novel.
     
  21. stevenchapmanwriter
    Offline

    stevenchapmanwriter Member

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2011
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Leeds, England
    Like any other writing device, it will work if written well. There are no hard and fast rules of writing, no matter what anyone tells you, and the only factor that matters is how well you write!

    Give it a shot and if it works, then it works. If not then it may be time to decide on which viewpoint will suit the story best.

    Good luck!
     
  22. Sleepy
    Offline

    Sleepy New Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2010
    Messages:
    8
    Likes Received:
    0
    Cheers thanks for all your suggestions and precedents. I think i'll have a crack at and post it at some stage
     
  23. mail3diplo
    Offline

    mail3diplo Member

    Joined:
    May 6, 2011
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    1
    I like both points of view, but I don't know how well they would mix.
     
  24. NecessaryPain
    Offline

    NecessaryPain Member

    Joined:
    May 22, 2011
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    0
    I am using both first person and third person in my novel.

    I originally intended to do the whole thing in 2 POV's, both first-person, but decided against it due to the nature of the storyline.

    Basically, my story follows both a Detective and a Killer. So two opposite sides of the law. The Killer being written in third person limited, and the Detective written in first person.

    I found that the killer could be much more mysterious in the third person, and gave me more freedom to explain his thoughts in a darker tone.

    I am finding that both narratives are working well so far, as there are multiple parts to my chapters. I am including both POV's in each chapter, and will eventually join both together, and even include 1st person from the killer.

    It's certainly a fun way to write.
     
  25. Rex
    Offline

    Rex Member

    Joined:
    May 26, 2011
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Missouri
    The main purpose is obviously "telling a story" whether it's 1st person 3rd person or a combination. I don't know if it sill holds true, but I once read from a publisher who spoke about the importance of not breaking the barrier of page, (my words not theirs) meaning interrupting the reader. I sort of compare this to TV or theater, breaking character, and looking directly into the camera, interrupts the story. It can be done, and to be sure, has been done very well, generally in comedy.
    So I suppose the biggest issue as it has been mentioned is "doing it well". Like stated before, if you have to ask, then chances are you may not be able to pull it off.

    I have experimented with different pov's and I must say, I really like to write a scene from one character's perspective, then later return and re-tell the scene only from the other character's perspective. The tough part I discover about that is seamless overlapping, while still providing "important new plot points" to the story.
    L Ron Hubbard's Battlefield Earth used this style and I really enjoyed it, which is what motivated me to try it.
     

Share This Page