1. hrdoyle3
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    hrdoyle3 Member

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    1st person vs. 3rd person

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by hrdoyle3, Aug 2, 2012.

    I currently have a plot for a story. The deliema? 1st or 3rd person

    I have written stories in both, but just curious as to what others think of the pros and cons for each.
     
  2. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    First person is more limiting. You can only see that one POV, the narrator's only. Anything learned or discovered has to happen to the first person. Thought of the other characters have to be spoken. It also allows for some more freedom with almost writing it like your putting down the first thing in your head.

    third person allows you to get into the mind of each character, give them a POV, show the world through their POV, as compared to the first person where you're locked.
     
  3. hrdoyle3
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    hrdoyle3 Member

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    I feel as if plot development if definitely easier in third person since you are not limited to one character's mind.

    I have noticed, though, when I read stories I tend to feel a closer bond with the main character in first person than in third.
     
  4. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    I find it very difficult to enjoy first person. The constant "he looked at me as though he could read my mind" nonsense irritates me. He can't read your mind. He has no clue what you are feeling and you don't know what he's thinking. Silent expression is not always that defined...ok. It's rarely that defined.

    My other problem is the voice of the narrator. When describing it is often in a tone that does not reflect the actual character. I just read a book of a country farm girl during WWI who fell into prostitution. Her mother was an artist, so somehow this translates into the narrator knowing every description for color under the sun. The descriptions were so over the top superfluous, however, the actual dialogue of the character was simple. There was such a disconnect between the mind of the character (aka narrative) and the voice of the character it was hard to believe.

    I've seen it done well a few times, but more times than not it is done poorly in my experience. If you can do first person well, do it. If not, stick to third person as it will be easier to define the characters' tones and thought processes.
     
  5. Michelle Stone
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    Michelle Stone Member

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    Yeah, with first person, You really have to work the narrative. What I can't stand to read anything written first person present tense. It drives my batty.

    Writing third person past tense is definitely the easiest. I hardly ever write anything that doesn't need another point of view.
     
  6. ThievingSix
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    ThievingSix Member

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    This can be used to the advantage of the composer. By only presenting one perspective, it gives the writer the option to have surprise elements far easier than it does in third person. Sometimes limiting what the character knows is not a bad thing, it gives you the opportunity to change characters completely at the discovery of something. It also allows the character to express more emotion, and readers generally connect with first person characters, rather than third person ones.
     
  7. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Well, it's not to say that either is limited.. It just depends on what kind of feeling you're attempting to convey.

    There are plenty of third person storys who stay in the MC's POV the entire time, almost reflecting that of a first person POV. Look at Bradury's Fahrenheit 451

    There are plenty of stories where there are different character POV's conveyed through first person. Faulkner and Hemingway are a prime examples.

    Though, in third person, you have the option to switch POV in between scenes, or, sometimes, in the same scene itself.

    Depends on what is necessary for the telling of the story.

    Let's way the pros and cons of each (note I may be missing some):

    First Person Pros
    1. Allows for an intimate connection with the character.
    2. Creates instant attachment for the reader, because they can put themselves in the story with the use of first person pronouns.
    3. Anchors the story.
    4. Depending on how the POV is used, you can still get inside other characters.

    First Person Cons
    1. It's harder for the author to distance themselves from the story.
    2. The POV can only 'presume' what others feel.

    Third Person Pros
    1. The author can distance themselves easier.
    2. It can potentially make the character's POV seem more real.
    3. It's less of a memoir, and more of a story.
    4. Depending on how the POV is used, you can get inside multiple characters.

    Third Person Cons
    1. Sometimes the author becomes too distanced.
    2. If not written well, you can lose the reader's attention, if anchored in one POV then abruptly changing.
    3. You can run the chance of never really developing a connection with a character, if there are too many POVs
     
  8. kingzilla
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    kingzilla Senior Member

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    There has been a lot of great stuff in the thread already, so I won't go into great detail, but in my experience 1st person is better for stories that are really linear. By that, I mean a story that really is following one character and the rest of the characters are being carried by that character. 3rd person is better for a story with multiple characters needed to be explained. Ender's Game, one of my favorite novels, uses 3rd person to explain what a bunch of people are thinking, not just Ender. In the end, do what's comfortable. I started with 1st person with YA and now I am more third person.
     
  9. B93
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    B93 Active Member

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    Just because it's third doesn't mean the writer has to reveal what other characters are thinking. Third person close POV can follow one character and give almost as intimate a connection as first. It is basically first person with "I" replaced by "he/she". And in my mind it reads much easier. You only lose the pronoun "I" that's trying to force the reader to identify with the character. Everything else you write can be used to make that connection in either POV. If the reader doesn't want to identify that closely (e.g., mismatch of old/young, male/female, or personality), they may find the story more interesting just riding on the character's shoulder instead of inside their head.
     
  10. Keystriker
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    Keystriker New Member

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    Hmmmm. I just finished a book that has both first person and third person povs. I 've been playing around with them to see if they jar the reader. My problem right now is tenses. The third person stuff is in past and the first I changed to present...not sure...
     
  11. Inspector Zero
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    Inspector Zero New Member

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    I think it depends on what sort of story you are telling. If it's a big epic story involving lots of different characters and locations then it's hard to get away with just using first person. If it's a smaller scale plot which focuses on the journey of just one or two characters then first person might work better. Personally I find using first person alone is too limiting. One thing I sometimes do is use a combination, where some bits are told in the first person and other bits are told in third person. You can do this by mixing extracts from the diary of the main character into the narration for example.
     
  12. A.L.Mitchell
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    A.L.Mitchell Active Member

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    It's all depends on what sort of story you want to tell, and its up to you. When I chose a point of view, I think how the POV benefit the story and then chose it.
     
  13. Ben_
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    Ben_ Member

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    In my experience first person can be extremely hard work. However, it seems to be a remarkably powerful tool for exploring human experience. It provides an intimacy which when done well, I feel, can provide leverage for reaching deeply into our experience. It can show us glimpses of ourselves which echo back at us, and this can be wonderfully affecting.

    Personally I find first person hard work, and only try it if I feel I have good reason. I do however find it rewarding, in that using it to explore my own experience, I can understand myself better. I feel the challenge also helps me improve my writing in general.

    Having said this, if I had a story, and what I was trying to say with that story didn’t require it to be in first person, then I would use third. Third person seems much easier to pull off convincingly.

    My advice would be to do some brief sketches of scenes from your story using different POVs, and see what seems to work best for you. However, I don’t know what I’m talking about, so feel free to disregard that advice.
     
  14. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    they do, trust me. I read "Bitter Angels" by C.L.Anderson due to the neat cover work and switching from first to third (even with it being by chapter and name of character) it was very jarring to me. I let a friend read it and he felt the same way. I'd recommend against doing a combination.
     

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