1. M@Sixx
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    M@Sixx New Member

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    Is it possible to write a novel in 1st AND 3rd person?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by M@Sixx, Jul 17, 2009.

    I am writing my debut novel, and i would like to mix 1st and 3rd person pretense. The introduction is from my main character, her thoughts on certain subjects and in 1st person. Chapters 1 and 2 or in 3rd person and then i would like to have some 'interludes' where different characters like the father and people that come into the story, they give the reader their thoughts. So in a way its kind of in journal format, and then the next chapter will go back to 3rd person. If anyone understands this post, pease get back to me and help me out if possible, thanks :)
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    All things are possible. But one must learn to walk, and walk well, before one can run.
     
  3. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do whatever you want. I've read stories that are narrated in the third person, with several chapters in the first person of different characters. You're just switching the camera angle. Don't forget to change voices with the narration.
     
  4. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    I say 'go for it'. The practice will stand to you, helping you develop your handling of perspectives and voice.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I would not recommend switching between first and third person on the same character. The difference between the two styles is a bit too jarring, and I see no god reason for it.

    With two different characters, I can see a bit more justification, but I still think keeping the same narrative perspective, either third (preferred) or first, throughout the piece of writing. The exception might be a lead-in section for each chapter, in which the switch in voice is used to more sharply divide the lead-in from the main body of the chapter.

    Your journal layout would be an example of this, but I have to say that most unpublished writers should stick to third person without narrative gimmicks until they have proven themselves in that. You won't impress publishers with convoluted construction. You will impress them with clear, compelling storytelling and engaging characters. Their slush piles are full of would-be writers trying to show how unique an approach they can come up with.

    You'll have a better chance with innovative approaches when you have established yourself as a published writer. Moreover, you will have learned by then to use a non-standard approach only when it can tell the story better than the direct approach.
     
  6. seta
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    seta Contributing Member

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    I stay in third person, but I sometimes follow different characters...
     
  7. NigeTheHat
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    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can do it, for sure, but as a lot of other people here have pointed out it can be a tricky technique to pull off well. I wouldn't expect to get it right first time. But then, that's what rewrites are for...

    Just make sure there is actually a point to doing it - that is, it does tell the story better than a standard format - because otherwise you'll just come across as unnecessarily showy even if the writing is technically excellent.
     
  8. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    The Bartimaeus Trilogy actually does this, and pulls it off very well.

    It basically has a main character who narrates the story in first person, but also a secondary protagonist. Whenever the plot focuses on the other character and the main one isn't present, it has the effect that the narration shifts to second person. (The main character is still narrating, he just wasn't in that part of the story.)

    I think this is most clear in the first book, The Amulet of Samarkand, because it shifts between the two characters from chapter to chapter fairly regularly.

    So yes, it's definitely possible. You really want to know what you're doing, though.
     
  9. Marshmallow
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    Marshmallow Member

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    It is important to differentiate between your characters' thoughts as well. Keep in mind that different people think...differently. It felt really weird typing that, I'm sorry. But anyway, if you switch between first person perspectives, have the reasoning change, have the interpretation of events change; having two different people narrate the same experience the exact same defeats the purpose of creating a second character.
     
  10. AliasXNeo
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    AliasXNeo New Member

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    As long as the switching is coherent and organized, I see no problem with it. You don't want the reader to feel lost in the first to third person transitions. The only thing I would worry about is keeping the same image in first and third person. In other words, make sure the way your characters act in first person is the same for third person as well.

    Also, make sure your scope stays the same throughout the entire story. If you reveal a key note in a first person section, make sure you don't bring it up in the wrong case. Besides that, have fun with it :p
     
  11. Lijde
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    Lijde Member

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    It's definitely possible, seeing as how switching POVs is practically my specialty. :p

    It's fairly easy when you've been doing it for awhile. It'll take some getting used to, but in the end I have a feeling you'll be satisfied. :)
     
  12. Phoenix21
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    Phoenix21 New Member

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    I think it would work if you do it in a smart way.

    One thing I could think of would be having the main character narrate their story in first person, but explaining what others did when they aren't present. I think this was mentioned in the previous post of the Bartimaeus comment.

    I haven't read those books, but my understanding is something like this:

    (With main character present)

    "I went down to the railroad tracks and sat there, waiting for the train to come."

    (Main character not present)

    "Ella was on the train, waiting for the next station when she would see her love again."

    This would be different than most things I have read, where they say:

    "I went down to the railroad tracks and sat there, waiting for the train to come. Ella was on that train, waiting impatiently to see me again. We had been apart for so long that it was driving us crazy."

    I tend to stay away from first person in reading and writing because I like knowing what's going on in other places instead of just one character's thoughts, but, I think it could work if you don't try to reinvent the wheel; just take a style that has been established and proven to work and go with that. Mold it as necessary, but stick with the basics.

    My theatre teacher told our class that all the possible storylines have been written, so finding something original that no one else has done is a waste of time. This applies with writing styles, as well. You're just making it hard for yourself if you're trying to create something no one has ever seen before. Just stick with what works for others :)
     
  13. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Rule of thumb:

    Switching in the same chapter is not as encouraged, but if you do it, then try to make a clear divider, such as the asterisk divider.

    *********************************************************************************

    When you switch perspectives, it works best if every character has his own voice, or own views which are obvious in his own narration.

    If it is in a journal format, then having each character introduce himself would erase any and all confusion. Furthermore, it could make for a very entertaining dive into the minds of each character.
    One character might have been reluctant to write his part, and that would be evident in the writing, particularly if he inserts gripes between his narrative.

    There are others, but I don't wanna exhaust my creative flow. Whoooosh.


    Edit:

    I don't understand this comment, Phoenix. I have only read two series of books that go from the main character's point of view (in third person) to a different character in a different place (also in third person).

    If you don't like staying with one character, then there are a plethora of books, in first and third person, which you must not enjoy.
     

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