1. BlackScorpion
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    BlackScorpion New Member

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    First person vs third person

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BlackScorpion, Mar 2, 2011.

    I'm sorry if this has already been discussed, and if it has feel free to close this and point me to the relevant thread.

    I was just wondering what tare he pros and cons of writing in third person or first person?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. Chronopunk
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    Chronopunk Member

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    I'm sure it's been discussed, but here are a couple.

    Some people have an irrational hatred of first person and will hate anything anyone writes in it. First person is also tricky if you have information you want to show the reader, but not the viewpoint character. Multiple viewpoints should not be attempted in first person by anyone who has to ask advice about what viewpoint to use. It is useful if you want to really get inside one character's head, fill in back story, make a character more sympathetic, or play the unreliable narrator trick.

    Third person is almost a necessity if you have multiple viewpoints, or what to show your main character from the outside (as other people see him/her.
     
  3. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Yes, there are many threads on this, but I am feeling too lazy to look it up. So, I'll just tell you what I know.

    First person: It can make the readers deeply connected to the char, an in-depth emotional connection with the char, and experience the inner workings of the mind of the chars. This very advantage can also become the disadvantage if the writer spend too much time writing about the thoughts and mind of the char, and unfortunately, novice writers are guilty of making this mistake. Also, whatever the readers see, hear and experience is funneled through the narrator's viewpoint and you can't switch to any other char's viewpoint, and this can be a limiting factor. Writing in first person seems easier, but it is actually not.

    Third person: The normally use forms are 'third person limited' and 'third person serial limited'. Third person limited is more or less like the first person, but you also have the option to jump out of the char's head (voice) and narrate the story. Like first person it also has the disadvantage of not being privy to other char's (chars other than the viewpoint char) thoughts, feelings, and observations. In third person serial limited, you overcome this last problem and you can head hop, meaning, you can write about feelings and thoughts of two or more chars. It's disadvantage being that you might confuse the readers when you do a lot of head hopping.

    So, the general consensus is that third person is easier to write simply because writers have more options (for want of better word). Which POV to choose? It depends on the 'voices' of the stories and the chars you are writing.

    P.S: There are other types of, less popular, first and third person POVs.
     
  4. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Personally I find writing first person more fun, being the character as I write. However what I use tends to be dependant on the story. You do have to find ways to show a different POV and report on scenes your character isn't present but its possible - dialogue, letters, emails, stories in books, paintings, pictures etc I was writing fantasy so could be more creative (mind invasion, turning characters into bird forms, animal empathy) - writing non fantasy first person is a greater challenge.

    Most of my fantasy stories - the character is a story element so needs to be first person. I am writing a novella called Little Chicks that is third person because it is about the childhood of two of my characters. My new stories have three MCs and not sure I could get away writing them all first person and varying the narrative enough - so third person feels better.

    I did do two person viewpoint first person with my middle book - half the book was one character the other half is his partner. I did the final scene third person but unsure whether to change that when I rewrite it.

    Only advantage I find with third person is not having to worry about how to tell parts of the story. However that has it's downside in that it requires me to put less thought into how to tell the story. I am finding it a lot more boring to write - I am hoping that will change as I write more of the stories. The characters and plots are fun - but that bond with the characters is taking more time to really feel.

    From a reader point of view it also means they don't need to like my characters - if you don't like my characters in my fantasy stories then the stories are difficult to read.
     
  5. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    From what I have read of your work, I think you write well in first person. But personally, instead of 'first person two viewpoint' I would opt for 'third person serial limited two viewpoint'. Because, IMHO, writing first person 2 viewpoint has the risk of people saying that the writer started out with one view point, couldn't do it, and hence resorted to two viewpoints. Your writing will attract attention more than the story itself. Anyway, these are just general opinions, whatever you have posted so far has been working for me. Good luck :)
     
  6. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL they would be quite right I changed the viewpoint because it couldn't happen with one.

    I think it works really well, but may change my mind when I reread it prior to rewriting it - originally it was a trilogy, one had been an action/adventure, one fantasy, the other a love story. I decided they worked well together as one book so put them together.

    First third is about the main character finding out who he is, finally feeling more together than he has ever felt in his life - then his mind is invaded by his sister, rather than give her control he flies to the back of a dark cave and spends the next period of time shivering at the back. The second third is about the lover of the main character finding him and bringing him him. The final third is the putting back together of the main character and their journey home.

    The biggest challenge was to get the POVs sounding different - not like I had written them both. I may change my mind but it seems to work. I have got into a pattern of adding a final happily ever after type final chapter - that I have done so far two in third person. Again it seems to work when reading.

    Beauty of writing is I can always change it lol - The trilogy can go back to being a trilogy - the final epilogues can be rewritten in first person.
     
  7. Terri
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    Terri Senior Member

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    If you love 1st person but need to add in another POV from a different character, there's no rule stating you can't change to 3rd in another chapter. Take Diana Gabaldon as an example. Her Outlander series starts in 1st & switches to 3rd quite often. *shrug* 1st time I'd ever seen it, but it works.

    My problem with staying in 1st is that the whole story is tunnel-vision of 1 person's outlook. There's always 2 or 12 sides to a story & in 1st person you're stuck with what they see & think.
     
  8. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Not to forget the justifiably unpopular second person POV. No, on second thoughts, let's forget it.
     
  9. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't dismiss it quite so strongly for a beginner. I'd just say don't change POV often, and only do it at a major break in the narrative. Nothing less than a chapter break. And you have to clearly establish somehow that the POV has changed.
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the important thing with POV whether first, second or third is that it clear who it belongs to - if you change it then don't make it confusing.

    I'm experimenting with series of diary entries from a mad man living on a desert island with another mad man he uses all three POVs depending on his level of lucidity.
     
  11. Terri
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    Terri Senior Member

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    ooooooooo sounds intriguing! Tough to write, but intriguing! Post a snippet???? :)
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    The first intallment is unedited under The Sheepish Reverend on Anya Kimlin's blog (in signature) - I am hoping to add to it every month about 600 words at a time. Anymore than that he becomes overwhelming. Kind of like my heavy innuendo sketches they are better in small doses.

    The other entries need work but I have written four or five - he is about to be shipwrecked with the Captain. He uses second person sometimes, telling himself off, sometimes the you is when he is talking to God, aim is to have him eventually think he is god.
     
  13. Terri
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    Terri Senior Member

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    I'll have to check it out tomorrow. :) LOVE your aim.
     
  14. kaylynwrong
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    kaylynwrong Member

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    First person is okay if it is well written. When it's not very well-written, or the author doesn't seem to know the character, it drives me nuts.

    I read a fantastic first-person YA book yesterday, Little Brother. I highly recommend it for an example of a first-person book that was well done. The author knew his character very well.

    Another book I love, called The Knife of Never Letting Go, was from first person. But in the subsequent novels, the author adding another perspective, and then another. The books got progressively worse.

    I think the main problem with first-person writing arises when the readers do not like the character. If you can't connect with the character, or if you don't like him/her at all, it makes the book unbearable to read.
     

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