1. Erasmus B. Dragon
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    Erasmus B. Dragon Member

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    POV: 1st and 3rd in same book

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Erasmus B. Dragon, Jun 23, 2013.

    What are your thoughts on switching from first person in one chapter to third person in another to follow the actions of a secondary character? I know I've read books that do this, though no examples jump to mind.

    Do you find it jarring or annoying? Does it knock you out of the story?

    I'm writing a story in 1st person, but I have a sub-plot I'd like to weave in that would require scenes without my MC present. It would really help me to establish the personalities, motivation, and back stories of two of my major secondary characters, but I'm not sure the change in POV would be worth it.
     
  2. Kaidonni
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    Kaidonni Member

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    Roadside Picnic springs to mind immediately. It's fine if you do it right, so go ahead and try. It will take some effort, but all writing requires effort and patience in spades. If it doesn't work for this story, then it doesn't work. Or maybe it will, but only after mucking it up a bit first.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I see it a lot in contemporary novels. I do find it annoying and somewhat jarring, because first and third differ in "feel". The authors who do are selecting one central character to tell his or her part in the story from first person. I think one such novel was titled The Neighbor, but I'm not sure, It wasn't particularly memorable.

    In my opinion, the author should have stuck with third person limited, The same POV shifts would have been less jarring, less leading, less jumbled.

    Just because an approach is popular doesn't mean it's a good idea.
     
  4. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I recently did it in mine, where it was all in first person. Now the first 2/3rds are in third person and the last third in first. I used a clever little revelation (in my opinion) to convert it to 1st person because it serves as a major plot twist. I think it works.
     
  5. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    C.L. Anderson's book 'Bitter Angels' was written like that. It was the worst book I've ever read. Jumping from first to third and back (even when told what character the author is showing at the time) is jarring and loses a lot of flow. I'd recommend against it.

    And yet it knocked me from the story. Anderson took a good premise and ruined it with her poor handling of the book itself.
     
  6. huntsman40
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    huntsman40 Active Member

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    There is nothing wrong with switching from first-person to third if you want to, but I wouldn't do it too much as it will definitely be jarring to some readers if you do so. You can afford to write say a flashback memory in third-person and then switch back, but as I say if you do too much switching it can be a little grating on the reader.

    Oddly I don't much enjoy reading first-person at all, or at least I have to get half way through a book before it stops bothering me.
     
  7. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    In the novel I mentioned it was a chapter by chapter thing. One would be in one character's POV, then the second could be first person with a second character, while the third ended up being a third person with yet another character. Altogether, it made for a terrible, jarring read that I'm surprised as hell managed to get commercially published.
     

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