1. Baby Phoenix
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    Baby Phoenix Member

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    Indecisiveness

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Baby Phoenix, Jul 5, 2015.

    So I'm getting a bit frustrated at myself. I keep switching between third and first person, and trying different ways to use them. I'm doing this since I want to write my book in a way that's personal, but I also prefer the flexibility of third person. Anyways, that's not what I'm discussing.

    My problem is that I've been doing this sufficiently enough to reach a decision, but every time I do I keep second-guessing myself and reverting my decision. Even when I say 'that's it, I can't change my decision.' I end up doing just that. It's a bit frustrating. It'll shape my entire book, and I'm really devoted to this book, so I don't want to get it wrong. But it reaches a point where it's no longer proactive work, and simply blocking my progress.

    Does anyone have tips for this? Ways you move past your indecisiveness? I was contemplating getting other people to read my work and decide which one they like the best, but that's purely opinion. I want this decision to be my own, since I'll be unhappy writing it otherwise.

    I'm not sure there's even an answer to this. I just wanted to vent a little, see if I can get any help.

    How about another question then, just to feel this post is validated. What's your opinion on using first person for your MC, and then switching to third person when you want extra depth to a scene/character? I tried it and while I think it's good in theory (at least it sounded good in theory for me), it becomes quite jarring to the reader. Ruins the whole point of first person, since you feel a disconnection from the MC whenever it happens.
     
  2. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Read Misery by Stephen King. It's a beautiful example of how third person can be personal.
     
  3. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    I write in first, but I had a wobble, and almost changed my mind to third. I kept with first. I know third would be easier, but I'm prepared to redraft until my novel is perfect.
     
  4. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    I don't really have any advice, but I can commiserate with you. :( I had trouble deciding on that too. I finally decided on third person omniscient, only to change my mind partway through my book and go with third person limited. Then I had to decide how limited I wanted it to be, and I still sometimes think about maybe doing the whole thing in first person. I've talked myself out of that though because one character eventually goes nuts, and I don't want to be inside his head when he does. lol. I'd rather see his spiral into insanity from the outside.

    It is a tough decision and only one you can make, but think about the pros and cons of each and which one will serve your story the best.
     
  5. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    No suggestions just I've been there. Quite recently. I just started a novel and those first few pages felt excruciating. I kept thinking it's too dry in third, too dry. There's no personality. But I refused to switch to first person because I knew it would bite me in the ass in the long run because I don't feel the story can be limited to one pov. If I want to show another character out of sight of the mc, I'm covered. So I decided to polish those first few pages to see if I could get something out of it that I liked. It worked. I'm more comfortable with the pages and using third person and can see that what looks dry now can be polished into something better later.

    I seen this in a published novel. I wouldn't recommend it. It was horribly confusing like watching someone talk about themselves in the third person. And when I first happened I thought another character with the same name entered the scene. lol.
     
  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Can you go into any detail about why you feel that third person isn't consistent with being personal? Because close third person can be just as personal as first person. In fact, I feel that sometimes it can get you closer to the character than first person can, because people tend to create a fair bit of denial and distance from their own emotions.

    I feel the need for examples. I can at least see the conflict here--either first person or close third person does keep you from using awareness of things that the viewpoint character isn't aware of. But if you had some examples of what those things are, I'd have a better idea of how to address the question.
     
  7. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I went through this same dilemma while writing the first draft of Aliens Don't Bend at the Knees and I found the solution while reading Orson Scott Card's Character & Viewpoint (
    ). In the section on viewpoint, he goes into all the reasons why you would (or why you wouldn't) use first or third person.
     
  8. Baby Phoenix
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    Baby Phoenix Member

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    Thanks for the feedback guys! I'll have the look at the books you've mentioned.

    It's more my own style of writing, and it's relation to the book. It's hard to explain. I want my reader to follow along with the character, as if both you and the MC is going on an adventure together -- or as one. This means that the reader can't have more knowledge then the MC, since it breaks this illusion.

    I write personal much better in first person. However I do prefer third person because of its flexibility, since I'm not resolute on the thing I stated before this (reader moving with the character). I've been throwing myself back and forth for a while. Actually, I've almost 70% decided on first person while writing this. Now I've just got to get that up to 100% and we're set :p

    I can re-explain this if you don't understand, it's just really difficult. Mostly because I'm bad at explaining.

    Ok. So an example. Claire is MC (first person).
    ---
    Pain tore through me with no remorse. My body popped, as if it was boiling all over. It was too much to handle. I blacked out.

    Jack looked down at Claire in contempt. She couldn't even handle three seconds of the Shift. She was going to be useless to them. The Boss said to wait, however, so he'll wait. Jack went to grab a cup of coffee to help him through the boredom. Unfortunately, at the same time, Claire had stirred.

    My eyes opened too fast to be natural. I had changed. I glanced around, clarity in my eyes as I took in my surroundings. Hospital bed. I fell unconscious. They assume I failed. I sighed as I rested my head back down, the pain still numbing my senses.
    ---
    While this seems to be fine (ignoring the lack of a break for the first POV change), I just don't like the way it distances you from the character.
     
  9. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    When I'm being all indecisive I try to make myself look at it from a sheerly objective "what will make for the best story?" viewpoint instead of trying to decide what I want to do. Because I want to do both - that's the entire problem! A while back I was trying to decide on a character's backstory, and I really wanted to make her part of this shady organization that exists her her universe, because they're one of my favorite creations and I thought it'd be cool. But her being part of that wouldn't ultimately add anything meaningful to her story and character, just make things needlessly complicated. Her story's not about that organization and explaining about them would just take up time that could be better used. So I trashed it.

    I think perspective choices are a little less easy to reason out than something like that, though, to be fair. But it's still a matter of sitting yourself down and making yourself make the decision and stick to it, or at least that's what I find.

    I would echo what others have said about third having the capability to be just as personal as first. At the same time, if you're more comfortable with first, maybe that's what you should go with. Using a mixture of the two can work, IMO, and not be jarring as long as you have distinct breaks (not like what you've just posted), though. Which do you think will make for the best story?
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But that is also part of the definition of close third person. That's why I'm pursuing this--I suspect that you're not entirely familiar with the capabilities of third person. I suspect that close third person might be able to give you all--absolutely all--of the things that you think that you need first person for.

    Have you read many books in third person? What kind of books do you like? There's a chance that I could come up with good examples of close third person.

    I'm confused by your example. It's mostly first person, but you say that you're getting distance, but you say that distance is the issue with third person, not first. Arr?

    I'm going to rewrite the whole thing in close third person, Claire's POV, guessing at what's going on:

    Pain tore through Claire, pain with no mercy. Her body popped, as if were boiling all over. It was too much to bear, and she blacked out.

    Her eyes opened too fast to be natural, consciousness returning in an unwelcome flood of lights and harsh sounds. She struggled to a half-seated position, then slumped back as she recognized hospital surroundings. Safe, then?

    No. Not safe. Jack stood by the door, staring at her, his face filled with contempt. Not safe.

    The pain returned, and this time she welcomed the blackness.
     
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  11. Baby Phoenix
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    Baby Phoenix Member

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    I remember writing it in this style so I checked and, yes, while I was messing around I wrote a third person like this and really liked it. I think I have more of an attachment to first person rather then any necessity on its part. I'll try rewriting the beginning of my story in it, and go from there.

    I've read a lot of books in third person, but they're mostly orientated on the setting rather then a specific character. Had a quick look back at Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time, but it seems to be more of a half-measure of close third person.

    My problem with the first-to-third is that it takes you outside your character. Perhaps I'm just seeing too much into it, I'm not sure.

    I believe third person would suit the book more. Close third person seems right for it, I just had small niggling thing (that I can't remember) about it that put me off it. Perhaps I need to stop being such a nitpick and just decide.
     
  12. ChickenFreak
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    Wheel of Time is, IMO, not all that well written. And it also does so much head-hopping that I think it's not a good example of close third person.

    See, I just can't see this. I struggle to argue against it, because I can't understand it enough to argue. :)

    The only issue, based on your posts, that I see with either first person or close third person, is the desire to have more than one POV--for example, your switch to Jack's POV in your example. But do you really need Jack's POV?

    I grab it from your post:

    Jack looked down at Claire in contempt. She couldn't even handle three seconds of the Shift. She was going to be useless to them. The Boss said to wait, however, so he'll wait. Jack went to grab a cup of coffee to help him through the boredom. Unfortunately, at the same time, Claire had stirred.

    You can get the contempt from his expression, and possibly also the irritation that she woke while he was gone. The coffee can be in his hand. The coffee implies the boredom, plus there could be a magazine where he was sitting. Does the reader really need to be told about The Boss? Wouldn't it be more fun for Jack's motivations to be a mystery?

    I feel that jumping from Claire to Jack is what distances you from Claire; if you stuck with Claire, you'd be close to her whether you used first or third.

    Edited to add: And in fact, I guess that's my main point. First is fine. Close third is fine. The difference between them is a very small one. But switching POVs is a pretty big difference from sticking with one POV.
     
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  13. Baby Phoenix
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    Baby Phoenix Member

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    Perhaps I don't need to switch POV's? The only real reason I want to is because I want the reader to understand a certain character more. However, mystery is also a great thing. You're right. I think I just need to test it out now, since I have a few ways I can handle it.
     
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  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yep; let the reader guess. Readers are likely to be smarter than you think they are.
     
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