1. Tara
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    Tara Contributing Member

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    First person and third person in the same story (or not)?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tara, Aug 4, 2014.

    I'm currently working on a large school project and for this project I'm writing a story (I'm aiming for a length of about 40.000 words, in case that's relevant). Because the story switches between characters I originally decided to write it from a third person point of view, but now I've written several chapters I've come to the conclusion that it will be easier to write this story if I write the chapters about my female MC from a first person point of view while I keep the other chapters in third person.
    Now my question is: will this work, or would it be a better idea to stick to one point of view? And how do people feel about this in general; can a good writer pull it of, or will it spoil the story if a writer does not stick to one perspective?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    A good writer can easily pull this off, so the decision is up to you. I think most readers don't care about this sort of things as long as it's easy to follow.
     
  3. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    This has been done before. One example I can think of off the top of my head is the Bartemeaus Trilogy where the Djinn's POV is written in first person and everyone else is in 3rd. It definitely worked out well for that story.

    I've also written a novel in this style before, and I enjoyed it.
     
  4. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    YES YES YES! It can and does work! This is how I write!

    :-D
     
  5. Robert Clinton
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    Robert Clinton Member

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    Yes I agree, It can, the flow must be correct. No matter what, the situations should have a sink or a relation with each other. It should not sound abrupt. And it must drag the reader completely into the book.
     
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  6. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Sergei Lukyanenko's Night Watch starts with 3rd person, it's kinda like a prologue, and then continues in first person, so it's been done before, and can work very well. I think I might wonder why this character is written in 1st person while the rest are in 3rd, and I might even feel a bit miffed that I'm not allowed into anybody else's head as intimately. Especially if I found the first person character dull and some third person character super interesting, but it's not like you could as a writer know exactly how your readership will react when they read your work.
     
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  7. BookmarkUnicorn
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    BookmarkUnicorn New Member

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    I asked this question in relation to writing a romance story in another forum and they seemed to think it was odd and a hard sell. But I really think this can work regardless of theme as long as the 3rd person isn't too distant in comparison. Just my reader's pov though.
     
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  8. JamesBrown
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    JamesBrown Active Member

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    Moby Dick and Heart of Darkness are both written in First Person Omniscient, which is perhaps what you're aiming for. There are issues with it, such as how does Ishmael really now what Ahab is thinking and saying when he isn't in the same room as him?

    Because of the overall quality of the book you tend to overlook such things and most readers wouldn't even notice it.

    There are many different ways of doing it, a third person book within a first book for example. The only rule is that it must work and enhance the novel.
     
  9. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Sorry, but I just have to tell you (as I dance around my desk because someone else started this thread, @Tara thank you thank you thank you!) writing this way, with the two pov's works, and if done correctly it works extremely well.

    It's not easy (and I've probably got stuff wrong because I'm not perfect) especially when you hit a changeover point and you have to remember that you're moving from "His lips feel warm against mine and the touch of his fingertips raises goose bumps on my skin" to "Martin slammed his cup down on the table and sighed at the ignorance of the group of interns assembled around him."

    It's about getting the tense of the POV's right too.

    @KaTrian I hear what you're saying about wanting to get into a 3rd person POV character's head but, you actually can, from a reader and a writer's perspective.

    My main female character is written first person present, my main male character is written third person Omni past. I can really get into the female character's mind with her feelings, strengths, weaknesses but by doing my main male character in 3rd Omni, I can also explore the story from his point of view, his feelings, strengths and weaknesses. When the female character is alone, it's all about here, when the male character is alone, it's all about him, when they are together, I have this wonderful choice of following them from her point of view or his, which gives me two views on the story, sometimes his view serves the story better and sometimes it's hers.

    The only bad things, (well, not bad things but things to consider) is 1) the reader must always know when a change occurs and 2) stick to the correct tenses, don't accidentally slip into present for him and past for her.

    But you know what? It actually works, and it works well!

    :-D

    (still dancing around the room)
     
  10. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm curious, then why don't you write them both in first person or third person omni?

    I write mainly in 3rd person limited, often as close to the characters as possible, but it's still not quite as intimate as really being the 'I' in the story. I just find it a bit more flexible and less claustrophobic than first person, and I'm fairly comfortable with it. But if I added a first person character, I wonder what would be the reason for it? Just to add variety? To give a more intimate look into one character's head? Perhaps to keep the protagonist 1st person and rest of the main characters 3rd person so as to make the protag stand out? To flex my writing muscles to see if I can do it?

    I'm definitely not against this practice, I think it's interesting, but I'm curious about the purpose(s) of switching between 3rd and 1st (instead of the usual omni which switches between PoVs, or 3rd person lim).
     
  11. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I started writing in first person with my female mc. That was going to be the whole story then something happened in the plot where I wanted to show what the male mc was thinking and why he was doing what he was doing. I wanted to tell the story as it happened, I didn't want to spend pages recapping or having the male character explain later what he was doing. There are times when the characters are apart and I wanted to explore what each of them got up to without the other one. When I get back on my laptop, I will message you a section so you can see what I mean, I'm not always great at explaining things :)
     
  12. ChaosReigns
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    ChaosReigns Be Still and Know Contributor

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    take a read of Anthony Ryan's The Ravens Shadow series, (so far its only 2 books) it has both 1st and 3rd person accounts
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Or you could have more than one first person POV. There are three in my story.

    The Poisonwood Bible tells the story from the POV of different characters. It's best to change chapters when you change POV the same way you change lines when you change speakers.
     
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  14. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    There are other ways to indicate the change in POV so as not to have to start a new chapter every time though. Some of my changes last only a page or less so it would be silly for me to change chapters that much.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    These comments made sense:
     
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  16. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I wish I were better with my explanations! :) :agreed:
     
  17. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Your explanations were fine. :confused:
     
  18. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Thanks @GingerCoffee Sometimes I waffle on a bit and then miss the point. :)
     

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