1. darthvader666uk
    Offline

    darthvader666uk New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wales, UK

    Going from Third to First Person in the same Chapter

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by darthvader666uk, Apr 25, 2011.

    Hi,

    I was wondering if anyone could point me in the right direction? Im starting to write my first story and have started to write in Third person as it describes the scene and sets up ther main character However, I wanted to change to First Person after about 6 paragraphs. Is this possible or stilly? Or shall it go into first person after the first chapter?

    Any guidence would be fantastic :)
     
  2. Arathald
    Offline

    Arathald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Seattle
    (1) It really depends. Some authors can get away with having an omniscient narrator butt in at certain places, and, even though this might be harder in first person, it still may be possible. A way to get around this is to tell the story as a retrospection, and have the first part also in first person, but give the background as if talking from the future, then go into actually telling the story.

    (2) You actually probably don't want to tell the story this way. One of the biggest problems with amateur writing is that it starts off with way too much background and setup, and quickly bores the reader. A good rule of thumb is "enter late, leave early", meaning start the scene as late as possible for it still to fulfil its intended purpose, and end it as soon as it has fulfilled that purpose.

    Your background and overview can be peppered throughout both the action and the slower reflection scenes, but also bear in mind that you really don't need to provide as much of the backstory as you think; you should generally only provide what is necessary to understand the characters and their motivatrions, as well at the plot arcs. While you might think your lore is fascinating, the readers are there for your story, not your backstory.
     
  3. darthvader666uk
    Offline

    darthvader666uk New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    3
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Wales, UK
    Thank you very much for coming back to my response and you have some fantastic points.

    As I have never really written anything before (except from when in school), I was giving way too much informartion before I started the story but look at what you said, I dont really needed it as much as I can always revisit it later on if it is nessesary correct?

    I think my problem before starting the story was that I was trying to get points from H.G.Wells War of the Worlds. I dont have the vocbilary as he does and well, im not H.G.Wells.

    Im going to go back to my story with these pojnts and hopefully, it would make sense.

    Tnak you again :)
     
  4. Arathald
    Offline

    Arathald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Seattle
    Yes, as you said, you can just add in whatever backstory is needed.

    H.G. Wells is a great example of an author who doesn't necessarily follow these rules. Some authors could do the exact opposite of everything I say and get away with it and publish a bestseller. If you can get away with doing it a different way, more power to you; there are no hard and fast rules in writing fiction. These are general rules of thumb that come in handy for most authors, though, so at least try them out and see if they make your writing better. I know they did it for me.

    EDIT:
    Forgot one last thing: if you're interested in good ways to select and use viewpoint to your advantage, pick up a copy of Orson Scott Card's Characters and Viewpoint. It's widely considered one of the best, if not the single best book on this topic.
     
  5. Dark Dyer
    Offline

    Dark Dyer Member

    Joined:
    Apr 25, 2011
    Messages:
    21
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    The Sixth Circle of Hell... in Iowa.
    I have always found that starting in the middle of action or moments before is a great way to start a story. As the action progresses, you get the opportunity to describe plot details and major/minor characters. If you aren't the "action" type of author, you can always start with dialogue. Dialogue is usually a safe bet.

    My advice is to just start 1st person. The details will come out eventually. It's easy to want to describe every plot thought in your head right off the bat, but it's a better idea to feed the plot tidbits at a time.
     
  6. Arathald
    Offline

    Arathald Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    17
    Location:
    Seattle
    Yes, start with action. That's what I was getting at, but I guess I didn't say it explicitly. Note that action doesn't mean a fight scene, just something interesting happenning -- conflict is king. And dialogue is a great way to start a story. I heard a couple of pulp readers and publishers talk about how to get published this past weekend, and they mentioned that how much whitespace is in the first several paragraphs of a story is usually a good indication of its chances of getting published. (More is better, it means there's more dialogue and/or action.)
     
  7. popsicledeath
    Offline

    popsicledeath Banned

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2010
    Messages:
    1,037
    Likes Received:
    71
    Hah, yeah, starting with action doesn't necessarily mean in the sense of a car chase or explosion. The 'start with action' adage is really saying 'don't start by explaining the history of the story and instead just start where the story is unfolding'.

    I've seen a lot of writers take the 'start with action' mantra to heart by starting with a gun-fight or car chase. Like the account I heard of a student being advised by a teacher to start all essays with an attention getter, so the student would just start each essay with a curse word, as that's bound to get attention!

    Also, from a story-telling, narrative-structure sense, dialog is action. Though, starting with dialog is often a bad idea, particularly if it's unattributed.

    Meaning a bad example would maybe be:

    But, you're using all the mantras, so it has to be good!

    Just give a few sentences grounding the story in the time and place, establishing the pov, introducing us to the main character, all in the context of action that is relevant and meaningful to the story.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    It can be done. But frankly, if you have to ask, I'd say don't try it until you have enough experience to understand why it tends not to work well.
     
  9. teacherayala
    Offline

    teacherayala Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2011
    Messages:
    314
    Likes Received:
    13
    Location:
    Panama
    Sometimes I think best when channeling my own feelings and reactions, so I will write in 1st person. But then in the next revision I usually change it back to 3rd person because 1st person is so limiting. One thing I found limited is that I couldn't really introduce my character's name early on; I had to wait until another character said it or until my character wrote it on a page or something. Whichever you choose, you should do it consistently. I've read really good books that have been in either 3rd person or 1st person.
     
  10. Sundae
    Offline

    Sundae Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2011
    Messages:
    362
    Likes Received:
    23
    Location:
    Astral Weeks
    If the sole reason you want to start your story off in third person is to set up a scene, I don't think you should do it. Because really, you can just as well easily set up and describe a scene in first person as in third person and have it come out well. It just takes practice.

    If you are wanting to switch POV's periodically throughout the story because your story truly requires it, than that can be done, but it is very tricky and you have to watch yourself. You can easily get mixed up in your tenses as well.

    Like for example, you're using a third person omniscient POV to set up scene but are using it to tell the reader what happened in the past but then, switching it to a first person POV to presently play out the scene. Now, you're using two different timelines and it's so easy to forget when being in the zone and just writing.

    Now you're wondering if your wording should be: "had been" or "have been."

    I do like to write in different perspectives and I do enjoy reading them, mainly because some of my favorite authors do this and they're the ones that inspire me to write and if you like this style, hone it and master it.

    If it's something you really want to pursue, there is no harm in trying, and learning. But you have to look at your reasons... if it is only to set up a scene, you can do that in first person just as well.

    If it is however to give a different perspective (like making one perspective "all-knowing" while another perspective "limited,") than that can be a great device and tool in how you present your story.

    Happy writing.
     
  11. Melzaar the Almighty
    Offline

    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2010
    Messages:
    1,792
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    UK
    I go within first and third in a fairly long section of the novel I just finished (also have a different first person narrator for a stretch of it :p). But it's firmly established as still "first" person - just that for a long time the character talks about stuff that didn't happen to him in a third person manner. He still makes interjections in first person periodically to remind the reader he exists, cares, and has a stake in the action despite not being around. A shorter, early section he told establishes him as a rather unreliable narrator who will make things up because they sound good, even though it was just a few paragraphs here and there where he got bored with narrating and started saying stuff they should have done instead, so I'm hoping that instead of people saying, "Yes but how did he know all these intimate details of the story?" they'll laugh and say, "He so made most of that up..." (particularly the parts that are over-flattering of him :p).

    Point is, you can do it, but there has to be a reason and it has to be established. Start the story in the dominant viewpoint, and always give a way in for changing. So if it's going to change to first person, explain why the new narrator will crop up.
     

Share This Page