1. Baller Dale
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    Baller Dale Member

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    Am I a worse writer for only wanting to write in first person?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Baller Dale, Nov 17, 2012.

    Hello,

    I've written a multitude of short stories - and have aspirations of one day writing novels - but I much prefer my short stories that are first person. Is this normal? Do you have a preference or is your ability to write first person and third person balanced?

    It's not that I can't write third person. I just prefer seeing everything from one character's perspective and, ultimately, write better material because of that.

    Should I stick to my strength or practice writing third person more?

    Thank you
     
  2. Crystal Parney
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    Crystal Parney Member

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    Hi. I like to write in both first and third person, but I feel there's more freedom in writing in first. This is in my opinion for my writing, another writer may feel differently.
     
  3. lixAxil
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    lixAxil Self-Proclaimed Senator of the RPG subforum. Contributor

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    Naaa, I've read amazing stuff wrote in first person, Is no big deal .
     
  4. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    This is only my opinion, but I have read HUNDREDS of stories by new writers and they are almost all in the first person. The only issue I have is that if I go to read the first chapter of a story and it starts with, "Hi, my name is John Smith." or any variation of that, I won't read any further.

    Writing in first person is how we write letters to people or how we naturally talk. "I went swimming today." "I thought the water was warm."

    Even this post is in the first person. I have the opposite problem, I tend to read alot of third person authors, so my writing style is always third person. But both ways work well and are only hampered by your talent. ;)

    ~ J. J.
     
  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I too am pretty opposite to the OP. I write mostly in third person and I often find it uncomfortable to write in first. Not because I have an issue with being in the character's head but just because it doesn't feel like first person meshes with my writing style much.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Go ahead and write from whatever point of view you want, and whatever suits the story. Favoring first person doesn't make you a bad writer.

    You might want to experiment with third person, though, to limber up your writing muscles. You may find you prefer it for some stories.
     
  7. Sackninja
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    Sackninja Member

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    Okay, the best way I can think to reply to this is by telling you my story so here it goes. About three years ago I wrote the first three chapters of a book. They were quite possibly the worst thing anyone has ever written. None of the characters had any character development and it was just a series of events happening. This was because I was ten and because it was in first person. Mainly because I was ten. ;)

    I had, at this stage been made write a few small short stories for school where I was the main character. So it was in first person with no character development at all because everyone in my class knew me. This is then how I wrote my novel. I wrote it like that because that's what I knew.
    Then after maybe a year I started the first chapter of a new novel.This suffered from the fact that because what I wrote before was in first person I had some delusion that that was easier. The characters weren't awful like before but it wasn't any good.

    Then I wrote a number of short stories. Guess what. They were all in first person. That was until October 14th 2012 when I started a novel once again. After much persuasion from my brother I was writing it in third person. This time around the characters actually had a proper personality. It was so much easier to write in and every second word wasn't I. Now I'm doing Nanowrimo and I might have made it almost 30000 words in third person. I will never write a novel in first person again.

    So if you are the opposite as you claim to be then don't make yourself do something you aren't good at/ would rather not do. This is all for novels though. I still plan on writing the occasional short story in first person but I wrote a short story entirely in dialogue so I'm insane.:rolleyes:
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First and third person are both quite viable writing choices. Each writer may have a preference for one or the other, or may decide based on the needs of each story. I tend toward the last.

    On the other hand, I always urge new writers to master third person before trying to tackle first person. Many new writers are drawn to first person for the wrong reasons, and consequently do it poorly.

    Until you have written a significant number of stories in each perspective, and studied a range by other writers, you probably don't have a good grasp on the reasons for choosing one over the other, the strengths and weaknesses of each.
     
  9. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    I like both.
     
  10. Allison Currie
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    Allison Currie New Member

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    It truly depends on the content. First or third person matters less to me than is the story well written and interesting.
     
  11. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    I started out writing only 3rd person, then I switched over to only writing 1st person. I went through a brief phase where I was writing in present 1st (let us not speak of that again), and now I'm back to 3rd. I think that until you've experimented with them you won't know what your really like best. I also think that certain perspectives fit certain stories, and that certain audiences prefer certain perspectives. If you have a story contained to one main character and you don't need to switch to any other character's perspectives, then 1st is a perfectly fine way to go. So is 3rd though. If you have a large story that contains the perspectives of more than one character, then 3rd is usually easier to work with. Each has it's limitations and strengths, but to try to judge your skill as a writer based on what perspective you prefer is pointless. What matters is if you write your preferred perspective well or not.
     
  12. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Cog's right on this one. Get a firm grasp on both formats, and see which one works best for you. Once you've read enough, and studied it, then practice, practice, practice, until it comes natural. There's no shortcut in writing other then a sweaty brow.

    :)
     
  13. Michael Collins
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    Michael Collins Contributing Member

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    I like both. I write mostly in first person because I like being in the character's head, since many of my short stories have autobiographical features.

    When it coms to reading I like both ways, I a piece is good, it's good.
     
  14. RHK
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    RHK Member

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    I don't think you are at a disadvantage for preferring to write in the first person, after all there are some great books written in that perspective ('Goodbye to Berlin' by Christopher Isherwood comes to mind). But I do tend to agree with the other comments that it'd be benefitial to practice third-person narration as well.
    I have experimented with both and have written stories in both; I tend to choose a perspective that I feel fits the story I'm trying to tell, and it's nice to feel you have that versatility so it's definitely worth developing. :)
     
  15. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Always? JJ - Me thinks you better read 'Waves' again! ;)

    Original post...

    To get a project off the ground, write from whichever pov you feel most comfortable with. It can be a good idea to try writing the same story from both angles and see which one works best.
     
  16. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    This.^

    In answer to the OP's question, yes, I think you are a worse writer, not because you like writing in 1st person, but because by holding to it exclusively, you are limiting your growth as a writer. Just as someone who only writes in one genre limits themselves. It doesn't mean you are a poor writer, but it means you are not developing yourself to the fullest. Like an athlete who only develops his upper body strength and refuses to work out aerobically.

    Good luck.
     
  17. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Pro's and con's to both. With 3rd person you can jump scenes without the main protagonist having to be there and this wont confuse the reader, but details can be harder to put explain. 1st person is great for description as you are the mind of the reader, ie I saw the sofa sitting by the window, it felt soft etc. and good for mystery as we only know as much as the character see's and experiences, making it great for a murder mystery as you go step by step unraveling the clues. But we are always really stuck with that person's view point. (there are examples of ways to write around this, but im no expert lol). We all have preferences but the ability to work beyond them and utilizing what is best for that particular novel is what can make a good writer a great writer.
     
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  18. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    question for those who prefer to write in first person:

    what percentage of the novels you have bought/read and enjoyed since you learned to read were written in first person vs in third?
     
  19. BritInFrance
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    BritInFrance Active Member

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    I think it depends on the genre, but I guess most of them are in third person. Although some of my favourites are in first person (Jane Eyre, for example), One book I really enjoyed used both first person and third person (although it was a bit of a jolt for me, the reader, the first time it changed, it really works). Anyone else read "The Straw Men" by Michael Marshall?
     
  20. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Even though I would not say that I prefer to write in 1st person, I do like to use it from time to time. So, looking at a sampling (the first dozen titles that came to mind, with the number in parentheses being my age when I first read them):

    Tales of the South Pacific (James A. Michener)(17) - some 1st, but most of the story about other people in 3rd
    To Kill A Mockingbird (Harper Lee)(14) - some 1st, but most about others in 3rd
    The Old Man and the Sea (Ernest Hemingway)(14) - 3rd
    Catch-22 (Joseph Heller) (16) - 3rd
    Exodus (Leon Uris) (17) - 3rd
    Advise and Consent (Allan Drury) (18) -3rd
    The Masters (C.P. Snow) (35) - 1st
    A Passage to India (E. M. Forster) (37) - 3rd
    The Novel (James A. Michener) (38) - 25% in 1st, 75% in 3rd
    Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury) (50) - 3rd
    A Cabticle for Leibowitz (Walter Miller) (55) - 3rd
    Great Expectations (Charles Dickens) (42) - 3rd (I actually had to read this in high school, but much of it was lost on me at that age)
     
  21. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    What SuperVemon said.


    There are pros and cons to both - it is up to the author to choose which pov best fits his purpose.

    In the past I have used both.
     
  22. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I like going and back and forth depending on my project. It's also interesting to wonder what a published
    novel would be like if their pov was switched.
    Catcher in the Rye
    Moby Dick
    Color of Purple
    Flowers in the Attic
    - all of them first person.
    Okay, Flowers in the Attic might not be the best example but would it have been a best seller had it not been written in first
    person? Hmmm. Maybe it would'nt have been a best seller but it might've been better.
     
  23. afrodite7
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    afrodite7 Senior Member

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    -for me,it depends on what the plot demands.first person is more personal and i would only use it if the story is more about the character as opposed for writing in third person which seems to have a broader perspective.i like using either ,depending on the occasion,but there is nothing wrong with your preference
     
  24. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I'm currently on 1st person present tense... it's murder! From what I've read on the forums so far that's the big no no. But then again, there really is no big no no. Apart from Big Al. He's a closet no no... and he's big!
     
  25. JJ_Maxx
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    JJ_Maxx Banned

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    First-person present tense is rough, I tried it and you really have to concentrate.
     

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