1. PrincessSofia
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    PrincessSofia Active Member

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    I can't figure out if i should use third person or first person and i'm stuck !

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by PrincessSofia, Oct 14, 2015.

    Hello! I have everything ready for my next novel : Plot, ideas, characters,setting, and even some descriptions of a few scenes. However, I have trouble deciding if I should use first person narrative or third ! I usually write with the first person but with the story I'm writing (paranormal romance with 15 characters, and I would like to write more than one book) I feel as if I focus on solely my MC's voice, I will lose a lot of elements, subplots etc.. BUT I don't like reading books written in the third person, because I don't feel involved and I just don't care for the characters. It has to be a very good story for me to keep reading. I usually find the use of the third person to make things stretch when they shouldn't and it's just not believable for me. But the advantage of using it would be that I could show all the aspects of the story equally, as I don't want my story to be just about romance( I thought about doing one chapter with the voice of my MC and the next with her male counterpart, but dropped the idea for that reason). I have read a few novels of the same genre to see which narrative I prefered, and it's definitely the first one, but as I said I'm not certain that would work for my story :/ sorry for the rant lol and don't hesitate if you can help or just share your experience :)
     
  2. Jeff Countryman
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    Jeff Countryman Living the dream Supporter

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    I used to write only in third but began my massive novel several years ago in first and haven't looked back. I love it! And, like you, I feel much closer to stories written in first person. I've tried writing a few short stories again in third person and have trashed them - they read superficial and fake. I'm a total convert to first person :)
     
  3. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it's mostly a matter of practice. It's quite common to start with first person when we first start writing, third might not come as natural as first person, but with some time and practice you can develop the skill to make it come to live as much as the other alternative. I'd say give it a try, no, not just one, more than one. :) Like you say, it opens up for so many possibilities plotwise, so it's definitely worth it.
     
  4. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I like either or. Of course with first person there's a danger of being in the mc's shoes 24/7 everything filters through that character. If they're not present during an event you have to find someway to let her know about it. The good thing is you can create an obvious closeness. The bad thing is first person mc's are more in danger of looking like an idiot/jerk. Because the reader is privy to everything - the reasoning she/he makes before a choice better be believable. With third there's a bit more room because the reader's not privy to everything.

    I find first person easier to write a connection to the character but it's also really hard to do it well. It's so easy to overblow it and make your character whiny instead of edgy or annoying instead of cool. And sometimes it's harder to balance the overall story and not make your mc the star.

    As for third it's a little harder to bring out the connection with the mc but it's sometimes easier to balance the story and character by creating some distance that forces you to think things out more.

    I would say go with your gut feeling or try writing a challenging scene in the pov you think might not work with it.
     
  5. PrincessSofia
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    PrincessSofia Active Member

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    Thanks for your answers :). I'm afraid that writing in third person would make my story look too detached and just like a "report" of facts, but I guess if I give it a try and add a few characters thoughts here and there maybe I'll manage to make it more "personal" :)
     
  6. ManOrAstroMan
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    ManOrAstroMan Magical Space Detective Contributor

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    I've read many third person books which established a strong connection to whichever character was in the spotlight. Style, and especially skill, really determine the effectiveness.
    But, you can also alternate between characters each chapter, if you need to show things one character wouldn't see. Again, you have to be careful, or it takes you out of the narrative.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Third person doesn't need to be detached. I'm curious as to what first person books you've read, and what third person books you've read, because I find myself wondering if the difference is really the POV or something else. There are genres that tend to be first person and genres that tend to be third person, so I wonder if it's a matter of genre rather than POV.
     
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  8. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Two random and conflicting ideas:
    --
    1. Have you considered writing in Third Person Omniscient?

    The reason I'm thinking that might be something to consider in your cases is that Omniscient, in addition to giving you access to every head in the room, also separates out your narrative voice from the POV character.

    In traditional Third Person Limited, your narrator is chained to the POV character's head. The thoughts and asides in the narrative voice are those of the character, but all in third person, which creates the effect that messes with you.

    In Third Person Omniscient, your narrator is actually a separate character of sorts. The narrator is the author looking down on all of the characters, in their own voice, with the capability to comment on all of their follies as a historian/divine observer.

    If you like the involvement and specificity of point-of-view that comes with first person - you might be able to get that by taking on the role of an omniscient narrator. In that role, you're essentially in first person as an unseen divinity/historian character looking at the action from above, and that character can be emotional and unreliable if needed.

    It might sound like it's stretching even farther than traditional Third Person Limited - but it gives the narrator a clear voice.

    ---

    2. Another idea would be to write it in first person as a False Memoir. Take if from point of view of one of your characters, but far enough in the future that they know what other people were doing when they weren't around and are able to talk about it.
     
  9. PrincessSofia
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    PrincessSofia Active Member

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    It's an interesting question :) ! While thinking about it, I think you're absolutely right, maybe that's more a matter of genre or even the style the writer uses. Examples of first person I've read : dracula, frankenstein, great expectations, or any book by Meg Cabot and third person: Pride and prejudice, wuthering heights, the old man and the sea... And I now realize that I tend love old classics ( or contemporary novels but set in that kind of era) written in the third person. I also realized I loved "horror" "gothic" genre written in first person but also YA romance or paranormal ( especially Meg Cabot, I don't feel like I'm reading the MC's diary, her characters are not annoying) but for instance I hated with a passion Great expectations, because it was long and dull, it didnt seem exciting even when There was action , maybe because the narrator was his adult self ? And don't get me started on the old man and the sea ! Anyway thank you , you helped me see that my prejudice against third person was not fair :p
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2015
  10. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah you can do Third Person a lot of different ways - I weird out my writing group sometimes because my Third Person is so close in. I use an authorial voice that functions as the POV character's inner monologue and occasionally includes emotional interjections (usually readers like this). It also allows me to vary the voice I use because I do multiple POVs and the authorial voice and sentence structure changes depending on which POV I'm in. My main character is innocent but very perceptive - her authorial voice isn't sarcastic and has no profanity, but notices a lot of detail about how people act. Another character is a jaded high-functioning alcoholic nihilist - her authorial voice is deeply sarcastic and often gets profane. Another is the tortured-genius daughter of a famous professor at Yale - her authorial voice goes on run-on sentence diatribes using really elevated vocabulary, because her brain is going so fast down so many rabbit-trails that she can't focus, and because her entire life has been spent around people who talk in big words the most people don't understand. There are a lot of games you can play with ANY form.
     
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  11. PrincessSofia
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    PrincessSofia Active Member

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    I have thought about it too, but I dont know how I could pull off the omniscient thing without giving away too much too soon ?( for example I would want to allude to the fact That the MC's main love interest turned her because she reminded him of his lover from 200 years ago who left to be with someone else, and that would be why he is warry[is that an English word? Sorry not sure and my phone has the french corrector on so I can't check but I mean like he doesnt trust her ?) of the MC and this is why he treats her badly but I would only tell the whole story in book 2) as an omniscient is it allowed to not reveal absolutely everything, or mix things up to make it interesting ? And the false memoir idea seems amazing but I'm definitely not skilled enough to pull it off, I mean in a way that would be interesting.
     
  12. PrincessSofia
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    PrincessSofia Active Member

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    thanks, it's very helpful :) I had thought about doing inner monologues but wasn't sure if it was going to be "too weird" as a third narrative but I guess I should stop wondering and actually write haha
     
  13. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I've never written in Omniscient, or read a lot of it, so I'm just going off what I hear. One of the things I've heard in the podcasts I listen to is that when you're in Omniscient, it can change the way you handle suspense. In Limited (first or third), suspense come from not knowing what the other characters are thinking. In Omniscient, the suspense can come from KNOWING what the other side is thinking and realizing that the characters are basically walking into a trap...or not picking up the messages...etc.

    The book cited most often as the best modern handling of Omniscient is Dune. I've also heard Pride and Prejudice cited as an example of a somewhat Omniscient viewpoint, as it switches heads.
     
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  14. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah just write. Let readers tell you if it works.
     
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  15. PrincessSofia
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    PrincessSofia Active Member

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    I started writing and I have a new concern lol. What about the tense ?? I think using the present would look less "frozen" , and I would need your opinion on my first sentence : I naturally started writing " Even though other people might disagree, Zara wasn't the girl-next-door type, or at least, she liked to think so. People who didn't know her thought of her as a quiet,plain girl. then using the present : Even though other people might disagree, Zara isn't the girl-next-door type, or at least, she likes to think so. People who don't know her think of her as a quiet,plain girl.
     
  16. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I make the same genre argument about present versus past tense. However, while I can claim a limited amount of neutrality for first versus third person--I prefer third person, but only mildly--I hate present tense with a fiery passion. So any argument that I make against present tense can't be trusted.
     
  17. PrincessSofia
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    PrincessSofia Active Member

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    Haha I personally like present tense when I read it, but as I write it, it looks like a 10 year old is writing so I'm much better off sticking with the past
     
  18. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I have a friend in writing group who's writing her novel in first person present tense - both of which I usually hate - and one of the guys in group got really adamant that she needed to switch to third person because it was jarring to him. I read it and told her it had to stay in first person present because it fit the story she was telling. The story was about a scientific study and the first person present made the text feel like lab notes. People generally write best when the write what they want to write rather than what we want them to write.
     
  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh, I agree, which is why I'm saying that no one should trust my opinions about present tense. When I hate something THAT much, my hate can't be rational.
     
  20. Inks
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    Inks Contributing Member

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    I personally hate being forced to stick with the first person perspective when it concerns emotions and actions that are experienced and conveyed with the author's intention of instructing me on how to feel. I blame my English teacher - it is perfectly rational to hate first person after enduring that class. Also, first person has a built in filter and framing device - I dislike both.
     
  21. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just in case I didn't make it clear, I meant to agree with you :) I hate it irrationally too.
     
  22. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    If a story written in 3rd person feels detached when it shouldn't, I'd say it's a badly written piece. 3rd person limited can be very intimate and organic when done well.

    That being said, regardless of POV or tense, my advice is go with what feels the most natural to you and what best serves the story.

    Of course, if you struggle with a specific POV or tense you want to learn, you might want to use that as practice, but if that's not the case, go with what is the most comfortable to you, what allows your prose the most natural and effortless flow.

    But of course this is not the way, just a way to go about choosing your POV & tense.
     
  23. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Try combining them.

    John went to the market because I was hungry but he wasn't really sure if I wanted to actually cook a meal because it might just be cheaper for him to eat out.
     
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  24. PrincessSofia
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    PrincessSofia Active Member

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    I ended up going for the third person and it's actually so much more fun ! I get to reveal some things I want about characters ,or how they feel, but I get to hide a lot of things too, and it's not all about the MC , which is nice
     
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