1. Maxine Sacks
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    Maxine Sacks New Member

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    First, second, or third person?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Maxine Sacks, Jun 28, 2012.

    I am writing a book that describes events in my father's life. I want to write it in first person as if I've experienced everything I am writing. Basically, I am writing a biography about my father, however, I (Maxine) want to speak in first person.

    Is this proper?

    Whenever speaking of myself through my father's perspective, I will write in third person. However, could I also have a chapter (or two) writing about my father using third person (my perspective of him)?

    Thanks in advance for any advice!
     
  2. Justin Richards
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    Justin Richards Member

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    I'd pick one and stick with it. First person sounds like a nice fit.
     
  3. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    I think first person would work in this situation.
     
  4. Darkkin
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    Darkkin Reflection of a nobody Contributor

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    Definitely sounds like first person.

    - Darkkin
     
  5. MeganHeld
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    MeganHeld Senior Member

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    Ditto what everyone else said. That way if you want to include another person's view it won't be confusing.
     
  6. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    I am writing a book that describes events in my father's life. I want to write it in first person as if I've experienced everything I am writing. Basically, I am writing a biography about my father, however, I (Maxine) want to speak in first person.

    Is this proper?

    Writing your father's biography from your first person perspective is fine however the limitations is obviously that you can't write scenes about events you haven't seen him experienced, say, the day of your birth.


    Whenever speaking of myself through my father's perspective, I will write in third person.

    Not necessarily. You can always use "showing' in such cases. In the above example of your birth you can use old photographs of that day or another character like your mother or grandparents re-telling you what happened that day.

    However, could I also have a chapter (or two) writing about my father using third person (my perspective of him)?

    Why? If you are already writing in first person perspective of yourself I don't see any reason why you want another POV(third person) to do the same job. This will be amateurish.


    A son's/daughter's perspective for his/her father's biography will definitely bring a very strong voice, specially if the theme leans toward father-child relationship. You don't have to switch POV to bring in your father's perspective. "Show" the father's actions (which doesn't require you to switch POV) and help the readers draw conclusions of their own which can be very rewarding to the readers. It's okay to leave how your father felt or think about some events or persons mysterious. And it's okay to have a bias interpretations of events from your POV. And most importantly, all these (writing in your first person perspective) will come across to the readers as honest, because, let's face it, you can never truly know how your father felt in any given instant, you have to take his word or conclude for yourself from what how/when/what he does/say.

    Alternatively, forget that you are his son, use third person to write your father's story from his perspective or multiple perspectives. This will be better than switching POV and this is recommended if you are broadly covering his life's events and not particularly looking for specific themes like father-son/daughter relationship.
     
  7. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I would definitely try first person :p Give it your best and tell his story as best you can. Edit each chapter as you finish if you must. Decide how well you think its written, and if you can continue in first person. If so carry on. If not, start over. In either case, when its finished read it over as simply a reader. note issues you find and read on. Then make it better.

    If you write it all in third person, you're pov, you could enfuse dialogue to introduce events that you weren't present for. As stated above, altogether it would strengthen the theme of a father/child relationship... if that is the pupose.
     
  8. Justin Richards
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    Justin Richards Member

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    I wouldn't say you're limited to actual events the protags experienced. The first person can be tricky in that the person narrating can be an entirely unreliable source. It can be done extremely well in that it has the reader second guessing the narrator, and understanding that taking them on face value isn't what should be done. Kazuo Ishiguro's An Artist of the Floating World does this quite well in that the character goes through the entirety of the book under a false belief that people harbour ill will towards him.
     
  9. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    If my intent were to write a factual account of his life, I'd stay with third-person and avoid emotional projections.

    If my intent were to write an interesting story, I'd go with the first-person. I think it allows for more reader identification.
     
  10. Maxine Sacks
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    Maxine Sacks New Member

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    Thank you to you all for your replies!

    My objective is to create more of a story with many chapters instead of just life events. Unfortunately my father is not here with me today, so I may need to speculate (put-myself-in-his-shoes) to show emotion and reflect on his life events. I am very emotionally connected to my father's life, so I assume this will only be gratifying and come natural to me. Would I have to consider it fictional if there is any speculating (filling-in-the-blanks)?

    Can there be two voices in a story?
    I would like to speak in my POV (not my father's) sometime throughout the story, but I'm thinking this would confuse the reader. So I'm thinking I will pick up where he left off (when he passed away). I would then take that opportunity to speak from my perspective and write about the road I've traveled on since his death (It's been interesting, to say the least). This is how I would end the book.

    I have a beautiful story to write about and a strong drive to do it. I'm still struggling a bit trying to decide on the structure. Any more suggestions? Thank you!
     
  11. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    If there's speculation on your part, I'd either go with third-person and make clear the guesswork ("he must have felt ..."), or I would go first-person and write the entire book as fiction.

    As for two voices in a book. I've got about 15,000 words on a story which features exactly that. The protagonist's story is related in 3PO, and his best buddy's is in FP. The story entails them being split up and working on a big problem from two different locales, and so to both clearly delineate the changes of scene, and because it strikes me as an interesting challenge to see how I could make such a structure work, I change PoV.

    So to answer your question about voice, I think that that could probably work as you describe it: using the change in PoV to mark a major turning point. It would require careful writing, but I could see that working, myself.
     
  12. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    No, if you leave the speculation to the readers. It will be like presenting the circumstantial evidences, things which you know, and letting the readers privy to how you have come to conclusions/speculations. So, I still think you can do the whole book in first person from your perspective.
     

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