1. johnbaxter
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    johnbaxter Member

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    First Person Question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by johnbaxter, Apr 17, 2013.

    I'm witing a story about a boy and girl that meet at the age of eight. The story covers until they are in their early 20s. It's written in 3rd person, but I've been strongly advised to write it in 1st person. My thinking is to write the boy in 1st person, and the girl in 3rd person, probably alternating the chapters. My question is: Should I write the boy in 1st person as he ages, or write him at an older age, looking back and telling the story.
     
  2. jeepea
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    jeepea Member

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    The decision really depends upon your concept for the story. A story with the protagonist looking back on a period of time feels completely different than if you follow him as he ages. If the character is looking back, you first have to establish his current situation, telling enough about him so that a reader will put up with you flashing back over a number of years. This might remove some of the suspense you would have if you followed him and his friend as they grow. That doesn't mean it couldn't work.

    As far as alternating 1st and 3rd person point of view by chapter, that might be a little jarring as the 1st person point of view will be more intimate, making it seem that we are seeing the 3rd person point of view character from a greater distance. It will essentially be the 1st person point of view character's story, but maybe that is what you want.
     
  3. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    There is simply no reason to write it in first person. And third person allows you to follow characters when your main characters is not present: and describe things that he could not be expected to know, as well as still being able to go into his, or another characters head when needed.
     
  4. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    A story I know of that will help you is "The Third Thing That Killed Off My Father" by Raymond Carver. It has a protagonist who's looking back on his past relationship with his dad and the dad's friend.
     
  5. johnbaxter
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    johnbaxter Member

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    Thank you for your comments. Lots to think about.
     
  6. Sue Almond
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    Sue Almond Member

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    First, second, third person

    I totally agree with Nee about the value of the omnipotent, third person perspective, and it does allow you the choice of telling the story over time or as a reflective piece told years later. It depends on so many things, how they parted, if they did, whether the girl is alive or dead at the time of writing but I wonder if this is one of the fairly rare occasions when a second person narrative would work. You could have a chapter in First person from the boy's perspective with the main action being related followed by alternate chapters in Second person, in which he addresses her eg You told me..... I never knew till much later that you.... You reacted by......
    It might work and be a bit different? Just a suggestion.
     
  7. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    You have to be careful being reflective as it can force you into writting first person, as it has to be someones memories. you cant headhop into differnet peoples recolection wiliie nillie but you but i suppose thinking about it chapter changes would alllow for POV change, if it was done well and explained that there is a back and forth motion it can work. But i still think 3rd person works best for the story.
     
  8. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    The only person who is entitled to an opinion on what POV a narrative should take is the person writing it.

    Go with what works best for your story. Since your initial choice was 3rd person...
     
  9. JetBlackGT
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    JetBlackGT Contributing Member

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    Harry Potter was written third person but the first couple of books were solely from his point of view.

    After that, you got more input from other areas and insight into things the main character never knew about. Third person really opens up the ability of the author to write a lot more.
     
  10. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    HE ASKED FOR THE OPINION OF OTHER'S ED...!!!

    But I notice you still managed slipped your opinion in there.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm wondering several things: Who advised you to write it in first person? What reasons did they give? Is that person an experienced writer or editor or other person with a deep understanding of what can be accomplished with different points of view?

    I ask because I have trouble thinking of much that can be accomplished with first person that cannot be accomplished with a close third person limited point of view.
     
  12. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    My thought is go first person, male, reflecting back. When you sit in a cafe, a person telling a story about themselves is usually more interesting than a story about other people. 3rd person is rather dull in my humble opinion. If not sure, refer to my sig.
     
  13. ProsonicLive
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    ProsonicLive Senior Member

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    a short answer may help. In a case where you want depth of character, first person nails it dead on. however, if you want ultimate control of your character, third person is best. keep in mind though that control comes at a price. often it is easy to "force" a character which is not a good thing. This is because so so much control leaves you not thinking about the character that has been created by the past pages, therefore, leaving it easy to make a character do something that seems inconstant with established canon. IE a pacifist getting violent or a man of courage somehow doing a cowardly action. However, a way passed this is to tell the tale from a standpoint of the main character telling the reader the story as if the story happened a while back, therefore, allowing the protagonist time to have found out certain pieces of the story he otherwise would have not known. "I found out later that she had been seeing a man named Seth behind my back" this is a way to inject some of the control of third person into a first person perspective. also, you can change from first person to another person as long as you make it clear early on that your book will be alternating between perceptive. and do not deviate between perspectives at random. Always switch in regular intervals. This is usually done chapter to chapter. But it can be done inside chapters such as long as you separate the text by headers and footers. Wow, I suppose it was not such a short answer.
     
  14. Inquisitor Ehrenstein
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    Inquisitor Ehrenstein Member

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    I can imagine that there could be usefulness for alternating, but it would seem very strange. If there were some way that it could be done seemlessly, it might not be bad. It might work to keep the same narrator for the third person scenes.
     

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