1. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    How hard is it to change from first person to third?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Elistara, Jul 5, 2009.

    Writing a story, I think it works best in first person, but keep hearing how they tend to get whiny, and am afraid mine might be headed in that direction. Whether it is or not, I am not sure, but if I wanted to change it, is it just a matter of changing all the 'I's to 'She's??
    Or should I worry about it after the whole thing is written? I already have more than 50,000 words.
    Thanks..
     
  2. RedWingEagle
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    RedWingEagle New Member

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    I personally would say that you would need to go thorugh the piece completely, it may be other words that just 'I'. If first person works for you then keep it.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    50K is a lot to rewrite, You can't just use a global replace to do it, and if that were all there were to to it, there would be no point.

    Third person encourages you to show rather than tell, because it trains you to look at a character from the outside, and show the telltale signs of his or her feelings instead of just the feelings. Also, third person makes it easier to shift POVs cleanly.

    If your story is too mired into first person pitfalls, you may have no choice but to rewrite it. But if so, don't ry to do it by editing in place. Recreate the story, scene by scene, Start by deciding whose point of view each scene is best shown from, and write that scene from that person's perspective.

    In most cases, you'll find te third person version flows better and holds the reader's interest better.
     
  4. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    Both have their advantages and disadvantages. It's not simply a matter of changing "I" to "He". Because you are basically changing who narrates the story, you may have to change how you say something, too. Saying "I hated her" is not exactly the same as "He hated her", especially when context comes into play. It will require an entire reworking of the story from a perspective - even if it is only a very slightly different perspective (like if you're doing a very limited third person narration), it still will require a lot of work to change it.
     
  5. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    Isn't swapping heads disconcerting, when done on a scene by scene basis?
     
  6. Brode
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    Brode Member

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    First person is highly nuanced, and in my opinion highly underrated. You just have to have a strong leading character and it works just fine.

    As for switching between first and third perspectives... the only proper way to do it is rewriting everything. It's possible that you could just change every "I" to "she" and still manage a decent story, but probably not. You'd have to be writing an extremely bland story.
     
  7. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Not if done skillfully. Check out Dune. Frank Hebert switches POV many times in a single scene. But he wrote it in a limitd omniscient POV.

    Most novels that are written in multiple third person, switch POVs by chapter rather than by scenes.

    As far as first person goes, if it is written well, I think it is the most enjoyable POV to read. Check out the Edgar winners. I can only find first person POV novels that won that award.

    If you enjoy writing in first person, you should not switch but try and master it.
     
  8. Elistara
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    Elistara Member

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    Yes, one of my fav stories swapped POVs Chapter at a time, though when I spent too long in one guys head, I found it hard to change. Another favorite used first person, but when she switched unexpectedly it wasn't so obvious who she had switched to. I didn't care for that particular book in the series though. :)

    I just can't seem to wrap my head around writing in third person. I see it done all the time, but it gives me an uncomfortable feeling when I consider doing it myself. Maybe it would just take experience - sitting down and thinking up a short story of some sort to practice it. Maybe After I'm done with the story I'm in.
    Thanks
     
  9. ManhattanMss
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    ManhattanMss Contributing Member

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    You'll probably find as you go along that changing first person to third will necessitate additional changes and create opportunities for rewrites. I wouldn't ever think of doing something like this without reconsidering the entire story--the context, character building, and so forth. So, no, it's not just a matter of changing all the I's to She's, because that will only serve to destroy the very opportunities third person allows.

    You might try it in a single chapter and see what it feels like to actually make this kind of a shift. That will tell you a lot more about what difference it makes and you'll be more likely to be able to figure out what works best for your story. If you're concerned that your first person narrator is becoming too whiny, this is a really good reason to experiment with third. It may even permit you to envision this character as someone with more of a life of her own than first person (which sometimes tends to "feel"--and read--more like the writer than a fictional character).
     

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