1. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    First and Third person in the same story

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by wellthatsnice, Apr 17, 2015.

    My current WIP is a Third person narrative and follows a lone child as he navigates the world. This character is going to act as my primary MC and then i will have additional supporting MC's that with take focus at various parts of the story (pretty standard story telling).

    Recently however i have been toying with the idea of adding in additional First Person chapters at regular intervals throughout the piece. The context is, that in this world AI has been developed, and enhanced. Rather than using it to create iRobots or Terminators humans have instead used our mapping of the human brain to incorporate these AI into our own minds. Without going into the implication of this (since its a huge plot point of the book) my MC has one of the more advanced AI installed in him.

    Now my MC and AI have a symbiotic relationship by design, and like animals they do a form of imprinting on eachother. That said they are still two different entities with varied opinions. As a way to look into the world from another perspective, i want to tap in and have chapters at regular intervals that are in the First person voice of the AI. I specifically want them in first person because i want to be able to tap into the AI's thoughts on humanity, his unconditional paternal love for the boy, and his confusion at the basic concept of "fear, hate, and mistrust" that is the underlying driving force of most of the books issues (like real life).

    My WIP takes place over the course of 10 days, and my thought is that each of these 1st person chapters will come at the end of the day or the start of the next (they will Not be a recap). My question is, under these circumstances does this sound like it would make sense from a flow perspective, or do you think having both First and Third perspectives with throw people off.

    I know this question is a bit long winded for what equates to a 1 sentence question, but i felt that some context may help with what im wrestling over. Anyway, thanks for the input.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it might work with the mixed third and first, but I think it could also work with just third, if you're writing the third close enough. I mean, it's totally possible to access character's thoughts and feelings via third person, right?
     
  3. Shadowfax
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    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

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    You probably need to spell out the change from 3rd POV to 1st by titling the chapters something like: 1/ Monday: The events. 2/ Monday: Videodiary

    And for the first videodiary you'll have to very clearly establish that it's the AI that's talking. For subsequent diary entries the reader will default to it being the AI.
     
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  4. Podam
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    Podam Member

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    I find this interesting. I've read some Norwegian science-fiction short stories from the 1970s that explored this mix of first- and third-person, and I always enjoyed it. Being the only "voice" written in first person it will make the AI stand out like an interesting element, I think.
     
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  5. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    Nothing inherently wrong with it. I've read plenty of books that shift perspectives. Tried it myself a couple of times, with varying levels of success.

    I think in the story you describe, I'd expect the first-person segments to sound very different to your third-person narration. Unless you want to imply the AI is telling the whole story, which would need the kind of third-person limited @BayView mentioned, it should have a distinctive voice, not just replacing names with 'I'.
     
  6. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    The bulk of the book is told in a limited perspective 3rd party narrative. Each Chapter will follow a human character (mostly the MC) and we will experience the action and events through their perspective.

    The AI pieces are going to have a completely different tone. The AI's don't interact independently with the outside world. The host interacts, then the AI process and store the information and feeds back data as needed into the hosts mind. They dont talk to their host (like in the movie "Her"), they think to them. The AI's dont interconnect with the world because that would open them up to all sorts of cyber attacks that are far to risky. They are much more in line with installing a photographic memory system into your brain. Once you know something, you know it, but you don't have access to unlimited knowledge without work. So because of their computing power the AI at times can seem almost omnipotent while in other moments can seem naive.

    This is the perspective i want to tap in to. If i stuck to the simple third party narrative, i'd have to convey duel thoughts and that would make the characters seem schizophrenic. With the separate perspectives i can tell the story through a familiar narrative, but then also link in a very unique voice via the perspective of the AI. These would be very overtly labeled similar to the suggestion by Shadowfax, and the reader would know from the onset that these are the thoughts and voice of the MC's AI. The AI would also not be a completely reliable narrator, since it is 100% biased toward his host (the MC), it would talk in the same way i imagine most dogs would describe their masters, talking up the good and giving excuses or covering for the bad.

    The other option, is to tell the story straight and not include the AI's perspective (figuring out a way to work in any important information shared by the AI into the other story). The AI's would essentially become like the force in Star Wars, a concept with no deeper explanation (which may have benefits because, midichlorians really?...c'mon man). It would just seem flatter.

    Anyway, i think im a least going to try it and see how it goes. At the very least it can be trimmed later.
     
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2015
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  7. Podam
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    Podam Member

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    I like your idea a lot. I think you've thought through this really well, and I think you will get a very interesting text if you pull it off.
     
  8. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Sounds great. I'm writing in 1st but I've often considered writing in 3rd also. I've a similar issue, in that I don't want my MC to come across schizophrenic, even though he hears 'voices'. Your book sounds exactly like the sort of thing I'd read.
     
  9. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    Just wanted to say thanks for everyone's input, it gave me the confidence to give it a go. Will see how it pulls together over the next month of writing. Thanks again
     
  10. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Definitely go for it - just one thing, let the writing flow but when you read back and edit, check, check and recheck that you're writing from the correct POV for whichever character is 'talking'. I write in two POV's and during the actual process, it's really easy to put a few wrong words in.

    Good Luck
     

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