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  1. Mojo88
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    Mojo88 New Member

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    First person: changing perspective?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Mojo88, Jul 18, 2009.

    I thought about writing my story in first person, but changing the character who is speaking each chapter. I'm sure this has been done before, but I was just wondering what you all thought about it... In terms of difficulty, reader interest, etc.

    What I was planning on doing was alternate between protagonist and antagonist, giving a bit of new information each chapter... Perhaps blurring the lines between who is really good and who is really evil... Anywho, thoughts?
     
  2. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    To be honesty, I would probably use third person for something like this. If you still really want to, by all means go ahead, but I think it will be unfamiliar and difficult, but it do and it goes badly, then you can just switch to third person :)
     
  3. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    It has been done before by authors that had a publisher. If you haven't been published, you reduce your chances significantly. It's hard enough to get published even if you follow all the conventions and write the most popular genre, romance.

    How would the story benefit from writing it in alternating first person?
     
  4. Mojo88
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    Mojo88 New Member

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    I suppose the only real reason would be that no one considers themselves evil. Their views and opinions are justified as far as they are concerned... So telling the story in first person would help with the "blurring the lines" I was taking about.
     
  5. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    If I were you I'd try to stay out of the way and let the story tell itself however it likes.
     
  6. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    Writing in first person - particular keeping their personalities separate, clear and believable when alternating between several people - would be harder than writing the same story in third person, but in terms of getting deep into psychology and reasons for morally ambiguous actions ... It would work well, if you could pull it off.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First person is better for showing the person, not for showing good or evil.

    I wouldn't recommend using first person for more than two characters, and even that takes an accomplished writer to pull it off successfully. An example of it being used well is T is for Trespass, by Sue Grafton. She only switches perspective on chapter boundaries, and not on every chapter change either. She uses it to get into the thoughts of an identity thief who victimizes elderly invalids, while most of the novel stays in the perspective of private investigator Kinsey Millhone.

    Even if mystery isn't a genre you are into, it's a good book to study for technique.
     
  8. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you do your job well, it's easy to keep track of who is narrating. Generally, the books I have read done this way simply started the chapter with the character's name to remove any chance of confusion. Still, I would not recommend starting this way.
     
  9. lovely
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    lovely Member

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    If you're really set on this idea check out some of Tracy Chevalier's work. The Virgin Blue switches back and forth between two characters and two different time periods. Falling Angels switches back and forth between many different characters, but it is expertly executed.

    I will caution you that she has written many books and has already built a reputation, so you can't just expect to be accepted for publication because she was.
     
  10. Zybahn
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    Zybahn New Member

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    This is true, but then why do you need two characters? A single morally ambiguous first person narrator can justify his/her own actions & beliefs without a contrasting speaker. Or is there something else you are thinking about adding to the mix?

    An interesting multiple perspective story is Iain Pears's An Instance of the Fingerpost; four first person narratives, though not intertwined as each part is told separately. Some great modernists dealt a lot with multiple perspectives, such as William Faulkner & Virginia Woolf (though generally in the third person).
     

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