1. FirstTimeNovelist91
    Offline

    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2012
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    United States

    1st person or 3rd person?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by FirstTimeNovelist91, Jun 19, 2012.

    I am writing my first novel, and I am having a hard time choosing which POV I want to use. I have fifty pages so far in first person, present tense, but it is very difficult to do. So I was wondering...which POV do you prefer/write in/read and why?

    Sorry if this has been discussed before. I'm new!
     
  2. Youniquee
    Offline

    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2010
    Messages:
    733
    Likes Received:
    36
    Location:
    Under your bed.
    Ha, yes I know about the whole 'First person + present tense' troubles. But practice makes perfect, right?
    I prefer to write in Third Person Limited because it's like first person and I can add personality to the narrative, which I like doing. For my second project, I seemed to have taken a risk and written in 1st person Present. I'm not sure if it was a good idea but whatever, I'm enjoying it. :) I feel the aspect of writing the narrators reaction and actions real time is fun and a nice challenge. Also, it's a style that's rarely done.

    In terms of reading, I like Third person omniscient but I dislike it when it's too descriptive aka it has 'purple prose'. I also like first person, as it gives the reader a more personal connections to the characters and I like a bit of personal voice when I'm reading. Personally, this pulls me more into the story.

    To be honest, I'd read a book with any POV. As long as it's well written and interesting, nothing is stopping me.
     
  3. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    Unless you have a specific reason not to, which presupposes you know the strengths and weaknesses of each tense and person, you should write in third person, past tense. This will give you the greatest flexibility, and the fewest pitfalls, of the available choices.

    There are plenty of threads on the topic in this forum, if you want to read more about the reasons for that recommendation.
     
  4. FirstTimeNovelist91
    Offline

    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2012
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    United States


    Yes, I can't stand purple prosse, but I sometimes feel as though I have to include it in order to sound like a "real" novelist.

    I don't care for God-like pov because it takes the surprise out of the novel, but that's just my humble opinion, of course.

    Thank you!
     
  5. FirstTimeNovelist91
    Offline

    FirstTimeNovelist91 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2012
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    United States
    I will definitely keep that in mind and will look for more of these topics. And I agree that third person, past tense gives one greater flexibility and it isn't so...limited.
     
  6. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    Real novelists relies on good prose. It's actually ironic when you rely on purple prose to look real.

    Anyway, third limited in past tense should be your choice.
     
  7. Mokrie Dela
    Offline

    Mokrie Dela Member

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2012
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    2
    Location:
    Hertfordshire, England
    I like first person. It's not appropriate for everything, but i think it offers a greater level of personal emotion to the works.
    One of the biggest drawbacks i've found with first person is if you let yourself slip even slightly the work can easily seem like a list: I move here and did this. I see that I say this... snore.

    But if done right, it can seem like the progonist is sitting down and telling you his story.

    Another downside I've found is the difficulties with showing other elements of the story. It might be strange switching from first person to third person when you want to show another character's scene.
     
  8. Ben_
    Offline

    Ben_ Member

    Joined:
    Jun 16, 2012
    Messages:
    16
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    UK
    I find that when I'm writing in a style that means I'm struggling to get the words down onto the page, then the resulting prose tend to seem awkward, and lack a sense of flow.

    Having said that I'm new to story writing, and most of my prose seem awkward and disjointed, regardless of what tense or POV I write from. :( I have been experimenting with first person present however, and I find my characters usually seem unconvincing, unless they are essentially just wrtten from my own experience, i.e. describing what it is like to be me. When I'm doing this they do seem like particularily powerful tools for describing human experience (first person particularly), but ones which I feel I need much greater skill to wield effectively. Oh well, I guess I'll improve with practice. :)
     
  9. lallylello
    Offline

    lallylello Member

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2012
    Messages:
    54
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Sunny England
    Try 'em all!
    Try writing a scene with your character in first person, present, then the same scene in first person, past, then the same in third person present etc. Whichever one feels most comfortable is the one to pick. Different POVs and tenses work for different stories so just because you do one thing now doesn't mean you can't do something different with your next project.
    Good luck!
     
  10. Program
    Offline

    Program Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2012
    Messages:
    63
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Writing a Program
    I don't write novels - I write short stories - but I think there will still be similarities between choosing a POV for a short story and choosing a POV for a novel.

    I normally write in first person because I find it enables me to heavily emphasize anything that affects the narrator, who is almost always the most important person in my stories. There's plenty of "he"s and "she"s in a story, but there can only be one "I." Although one can just as easily replace all the "I"s with "he"s or "she"s, I always get the feeling that something has been lost with that transition. One thing first person has that no other POV has is it lets the reader step into the character's shoes.

    I sometimes use second person, but only when I really need to get a reader to see/feel(/etc.) something and when I can't let the mind of a reader wander and ponder about variations in what happened. (I don't know any novels written in second person though... but second person can be useful)

    I can't seem to remember when I last put a serious effort into a piece with third person point of view, but I'm sure it has its advantages. It's probably the one we are all most familiar with from reading other books, and like Cogito said, it'll probably be the most flexible.
     
  11. simina
    Offline

    simina Senior Member

    Joined:
    May 8, 2012
    Messages:
    102
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    canada
    Absolutely third person! Like Cogito said, there's so much more flexibility. Plus, you can go into the mind of your characters just like you can with first person. There's no drawback IMO. Most of my favorite books are written in third person.

    Oh and don't write in present tense! I think it's the most difficult tense to do successfully, and it only works for short pieces. I cannot imagine novel-length piece being written successfully in present tense.
     
  12. thetyper
    Offline

    thetyper Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    2
    The story makes the choice in my view. My current novel involves a person with memory loss being manipulated and if I want the reader to be as confused as the character it has to be first person. Apologies if there is a double post but every time I click reply this website crashes.
     
  13. thewordsmith
    Offline

    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2009
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    124
    Location:
    State of Confusion
    Bear in mind there are some incredible limitations on first person POV with which you may not want to shackle yourself. In first, your MC is only privvy to what he or she immediately sees/hears. So you cannot have your reader knowing what your MC does not because, from the MC's POV, he or she does not know those other thigns you might include in third.
    Basically, if he can't see it, hear it, taste it, it doesn't exist. This creates an incredible challenge for the novice writer. It can be done, of course, and it can be great fun to use that first person POV. But, unless you've got a truly compelling reason to do so, it's probably not a good idea to wander into that jungle blind.

    If I were you, I would stick to third until you are comfortable with that and are better versed in the differences and requirements of both third person and first person POV.
     
  14. thetyper
    Offline

    thetyper Member

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    57
    Likes Received:
    2
    wordsmith

    You can have a lot of fun with those restrictions.
     
  15. AmyHolt
    Offline

    AmyHolt Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 22, 2011
    Messages:
    475
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Warsaw, IN
    This was my thought exactly. Whether you write in 1st or 3rd person to me is personal preference but writing in present tense is difficult to do and tends to reads bad.
     
  16. Darkkin
    Offline

    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 21, 2012
    Messages:
    1,758
    Likes Received:
    515
    Location:
    Following the footprints in the sand...
    First person is irritating in the extreme, especially if it is a character that is hard to like. In some cases it works, but I am third person all that way. There is so much more that can be experienced that way. It is part of the reason people read. To done the mask, an avatar of sorts, and escape into another place.

    - Darkkin, the Tedious
     
  17. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,728
    Likes Received:
    4,826
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    As I've said elsewhere in these forums, I usually prefer third person limited. First person limits me to what the character can see and experience in the moment, and also limits me to the character's vocabulary and language level. Third person lets me use my own language and allows me the freedom to adopt an omniscient POV if I need to for a short while.
     
  18. MickiMahoney
    Offline

    MickiMahoney New Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    I think that the story will dictate the POV too. For my novel, I spent months and months struggling to make a 3rd-person POV work, for all the prosaic reasons given above, but it just refused to play ball. The voice that eventually emerged was a sort of chatty, somewhat-unreliable 1st-person. Once I had accepted that, the words just flew off the keyboard after nearly two years of swimming against the tide.
     
  19. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    If it takes the surprise out of the novel (and there is supposed to be surprise in it) then it has simply been badly done. There's no reason it has to take any surprise out of the novel. At the moment I'm reading a P D James whodunnit written in 3rd person omniscient, and I'm fully expecting the denouement to still be a surprise.
     

Share This Page