1. E.Anderson
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    E.Anderson Member

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    First Person point of view to Third-Person point of view--Please and Thank You!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by E.Anderson, Apr 19, 2016.

    Let me just start off by saying I have been writing ever since I was really young (Like at 9) and I always had a major dilemma, I never knew how to format my stories properly or whether or not I wanted my story to become a television series, a animated series, a movie or a book. So I just wrote down all of my stories in a notebook and in Microsoft Word. Recently I have decided to give books a shot and I have read my fair share of books and realized that most of them are told from a first-person point of view (Preferably from the MC's point of view I suppose). I never wrote from a first-person POV before but when I started writing I was really enjoying it but then, I realized something...How the hell am I going to tell important scenes where the main MC isn't present?! So here's the question: I want to show scenes that are crucial to the story where the MC isn't present (In my opinion I don't like when fantasy writers concentrate too much and ONLY on the MC just because he/she is the MC) but in order to show those scenes the entire book needs to be in a Third-person POV right? I'm willing to do that but I'm really enjoying writing from my MC's perspective so...Is there a way to shift from a first-person POV to a third-person POV then back to first-person PoV without it becoming sloppy?

    Any type of help is much appreciated--Please and Thank You!
     
  2. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    What I do is have third-person laced with the perspective of whoever is the sort of... host of the third-person narrator. That way I can have as many perspectives as I want for the story, and not have to worry about switch-overs between first person POVs, and can hint at stuff they don't know, or even show it. I also hear it's just easier usually to write third-person. Which makes sense. First-person is so immersive.
     
  3. E.Anderson
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    E.Anderson Member

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    Well...I am more experienced with stories told from a third-person point of view anyway...So I guess I'll just write the whole thing in that perspective...Although I'm not going to lie I was really enjoying writing from my MC's point of view since I am a very subjective writer I am good at making my MC say the most witty things inside his head and now his inner voice will be silenced...But thanks once again good friend...Till next time!
     
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  4. Oscar Leigh
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    Oscar Leigh Contributing Member

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    No probs! You should probably get some other opinions first though. Don't just take it from me.
     
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  5. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    "Most" books are written in first person? I'm not sure about that. Maybe most in certain genres - especially YA - but not in adult. I'd bet 3rd is much more common in adult literature.

    In any case it doesn't matter for your question. You can have some scenes in 1st and some in 3rd. You can have all in 3rd but with different characters "hosting" as Oscar put it. You can have all in first but change who the speaker is.

    The red flag for me is that you're using a perspective to give the reader information that the MC doesn't have. The risk is that you're going to info-dump at us. Personally I like reading 3rd person limited, where I only know what the "host" character knows.
     
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  6. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    Most books are not written in first person, that's actually probably a minority. First person is ok when done well, but it actually is harder than it seems. My advice it to write in third person, and follow the MC closely. (have the narrator as close to him as if he's invisibly riding your MC piggyback, listening to everything going on around him. You can easily insert inner dialogue that way, and get much the same effect as if you are writing first person.

    Then, in another chapter, (never switch POV mid chapter the first time) switch to another character and piggy back them for a while. You don't have to worry about them accidentally becoming MC's, as long as you mostly follow your true MC for most of the story. This is a much used and accepted practice.

    I personally don't like it when stories switch from first person to third, to first, to third. It has been done, but I think you would be putting way too much strain on yourself if you don't know how to pull it off properly, this being your first novel.
     
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  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    You might consider reading: Character & Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card. He does an excellent job of covering all this first/third person stuff.
     
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  8. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    What??? I didn't know he made how-to books, that's awesome. He is a good writer
     
  9. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, he is. My favourites were his novelization of Abyss, the Homecoming Saga, and the Pastwatch series.

    He got pretty vocal about being anti-gay a few years ago, but I try not to hold that against him. He's still got things to teach when he sticks to his area of expertise.
     
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  10. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    Didn't know that about him, but oh well. no different than my dad and brother, so what the hell
     
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  11. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    He's a devout Mormon, and that dictates his political views.

    To the OP: I agree with @Tenderiser - you can write in all first person, all third person, or combinations of the two (or even second person - see Nick Sagan or Charles Stross), you just have to execute it well. It's not a question of what can be done, but what you personally are capable of doing well.
     
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  12. plothog
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    plothog Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    It's also not true that writing from third person silences your point of view characters' inner voice.
    Read some more third person books - many of them have lots of inner voice.
    It's a common misconception among beginner writers that you only get an inner voice in first. It's harder in third, but once you've got the knack for it in third, it's not actually that much harder.
     
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  13. E.Anderson
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    E.Anderson Member

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    Do you know where I can find a Pdf?
     
  14. E.Anderson
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    E.Anderson Member

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    ...I still have a lot to learn, I know. So do you have any suggestion for some third-person POV books?
     
  15. E.Anderson
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    E.Anderson Member

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    Thank you, all of you, now I have an additional question...How do I switch locations in books? (Sorry if it might seem like a dumb question-I'm new to this and willing to learn).
     
  16. Justin Phillips
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    Justin Phillips Active Member

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    you have to add in the line "and this is where our character goes now" every time you switch locations. It's mandatory.

    actually, I think this is just a matter of reading a book and seeing how a published author does it. It will be different every time, depending on what's happening in the story. Usually just a transition sentence or paragraph will do, or you can start it at the beginning of the next chapter.
     
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  17. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yep. Section break, chapter break, transition sentence. Whatever works best for you. All of these are possibilities. I daresay you could even switch without them, though it would be trickier and you'd have to take care to do it well.
     
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  18. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    And there are a bunch of variations on 3rd person that are fun to play with. I'm planning to write my next novel in 3rd omniscient, mostly because it's recommended for humour. If memory serves (and it's been a while since I read it) Douglas Adams used it to good effect in Hitchhiker's, so I'm going to give it a shot.
     
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  19. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not PDF, but there's a Kindle edition:



    This is for Canadian Amazon, but if you're in the U.S., just change the .ca to .com in the URL and you'll likely find the same list.
     
  20. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just about any detective fiction or mystery will be in 3rd limited.

    Oops! Brain-fart.

    Michael Crichton
    Ken Follett
    Stephen King
     
  21. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Rule of Thumb: Within the first sentence or two (definitely within the first paragraph) of a chapter (or after a chapter break) you mention who the POV character is for that section and where they are.

    Or you could use subtitles.

    When I read your question out loud to my wife (the joker) she said, "Just use a laptop. Then changing locations is easy." :)
     
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  22. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I do the same as @Sack-a-Doo!: start a chapter by making it clear whose POV we're in and where they are.

    Funnily enough the only way I think Hitchhiker's would be improved is if he'd used close third instead of omni. :D
     
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  23. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    The only things I can tell you from my exp., are the following:

    Most people tend to favor third POV, over first POV.

    Mixing third and first together really only works if you are using it for thoughts, or diary entries that interlace with the MC in the story.

    Never interchange third and first in a piece or it will be too hectic to want to read. Basically pick one or the other, not both. :p
     
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  24. AASmith
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    AASmith Contributing Member

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    I haven't read the other responses yet. I will say that for me I can't just decide that i like 1st or 3rd person so that's how I will write all my books. I have to decide which view point will allow me to tell my story better. Sometimes that means 1st person other times it's 3rd. If you have a book where the main character is not in every scene then you have options, you can either do 3rd person or write a book in 1st person from multiple points of view, think Girl on the Train.
     
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  25. Lew
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    Lew Contributing Member Contributor

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    My wife is actually doing both in her fantasy WIP. The Female MC is a shape-shifting wolf, one of a pack (nice ones) living among a human community (unknown to the humans). When she is in her human form, her name is Carolyn and she dialogues in third person... but when she shifts into her wolf persona, she dialogues in first. Sounds strange, never saw it done before, but after 10K words, it is working for her.

    Definitely, in your more conventional style, if you need to switch of 1st person to give information about something the POV does not know, give a double break paragraph (or new chapter) and very clearly established when/where/who for the reader.
     
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