1. apothecaryrose
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    apothecaryrose Member

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    POV question

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by apothecaryrose, Jul 12, 2008.

    So I have a story I'm working on and there are two characters that I'm using as the POV characters at various points in the story. I've started it in third person because that seemed the best idea at the time and it was the way that it came to me as far as what to write at the moment.

    However, now I'm rethinking that and I'm trying to decide between third person and first person. And I'm trying to think of the pros and cons of this.

    Right now here's what I got:

    For 3rd person:
    -already have about 7 pages of 3rd person
    -more objective description of places, people, things
    -can kind of view from a character other than the two main characters
    -can intersperse the two story lines within one chapter (until they meet up of course) instead of separating one from the other

    For 1st person:
    -can delve into each character's view a bit better (personally, i find it a bit easier to get into a character's head in first person)
    -more colored view of what's going on, biased (which isn't a bad thing)
    -need to have distinct voice for each character (separate the views by chapter)
    -need to separate what I know will happen from what the character knows (they don't know everything and so it could create more suspense)

    So if anyone could help me by telling me their own personal experiences they have with each view and possibly things to watch out for or why you prefer one to the other that would be a big help.

    Thank you for reading this and any discussion is appreciated.
     
  2. ManicHedgehog
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    ManicHedgehog Member

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    If you're working with more than one POV, it's usually best to stick to third person unless you really know how to do first person really well. And even then, first person with more than one POV can get confusing after a while.

    It usually comes down to what kind of story you're writing. Detective stories and psychological thrillers work really well with first person, but epics and stories on a more grandiose scale work best in third person.

    With the multiple POVs, I recommend third person, but I think you might need to tell us a little more about your story or post a short excerpt for the best advice.
     
  3. apothecaryrose
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    apothecaryrose Member

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    Thank you for the advice. I'll tell you some more about my story.

    Its a modern fantasy setting. It will have some thriller and horror and fantasy elements. The gist of it is that there are non humans living among humans every day. The government knows about them and kind of watches to make sure they stay hidden from the main population. A fraction of the non humans create a group that doesn't want to take hiding what they are anymore. So they take some humans hostage to make a point and try to get what they want which is recognition, fear from humans and a more direct control in the human world. That's the short summary of it.

    One of my view point characters is one of the hostages. He isn't human either but he doesn't really agree with the group at least not the way they're going about it or what they want. He keeps what he is a secret and tries to help the humans get out which causes a whole lot of problems for him.

    The other view point character is also a non human and she was taken by the group shortly before this hostage situation. She ends up becoming a member of the group and helping them out not necessarily out of agreeing with them but out of wanting to stay alive. She ends up needing to make a choice between her life and the other view point character's life.

    Does that help any?
     
  4. Sato Ayako
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    Sato Ayako Contributing Member

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    Since you put yours in a list, here's what I've gotten from 3rd v. 1st person experiences in a list of my own.

    Third Person

    • Wide variety of "types" of third person, ranging from third omniscient (very distant) to third limited (more intimate)
    • Able to use wider range of vocabulary and sentence structure as long as it is "in character" for the viewpoint character.
    • Easier to jump from one character to another.
    • Easier to understand different characters and the dynamics between them because of relative narrative distance.
    • Seen more commonly in published works and therefore may be easier to read (ie--readers are used to it).
    • Able to create a more literary work because of a lack of personal narrative voice (ie--the character's not recounting the story in his/her voice).
    • Descriptions are easier to create.
    • Pacing is easier to master because there isn't a personal narrative voice who may or may not change pacing with his/her personality.
    • Can get bogged down in description.
    • Third person is more prone to suffer excess from narrative summary.
    • Characters can only (professionally) be conveyed through their behavior, and/or are colored by a third-person limited's character, or even the own author's bias. (Ie--I like Bob, so Bob gets the better description and treatment.)
    • Better for serious stories.

    First Person

    • The ultimate intimate narrative voice. Gets right inside the character's head.
    • Can use different voices (ex--a "snarky" voice).
    • Greater freedom in tenses (ex--it's a little more acceptable to use the word "you" inside first-person fiction).
    • Harder to create descriptions because of a narrator's voice. If a narrator wouldn't call the mountains, "verdant, jagged peaks" it's not going into the story whether you like it or not.
    • Risk of trapping your readers in the character's head through interior monologuing, excessive or not.
    • A character with a bubbly or bouncy personality may ruin flow with his/her voice unless the writer is very skilled.
    • Some writers run into the trap of starting too many sentences with the words "I" or "my".
    • Suspense can be intensified. Can also be ruined if the narrator tends to interior-monologue too much.
    • Very personal. Readers tend to get attached to first person narrators, especially those with good voices and an interesting story to tell.
    • Better for humorous stories.
    • Emotions and actions can be inflated until they're melodramatic.

    From my experience, this is what I've found. Most writers will tell you to avoid the first person POV if you can. It's too difficult to sustain a good voice, pacing, and to characterize more than just your narrator. However, third person does have its pitfalls as well, as you can see. For most stories, I recommend third person. Most tragic stories are in third person because it's hard to write them in first person because of the high emotions. (First person tends to make them sound melodramatic.)

    If the story is a very personal one that relies on the narrator's comments, thoughts, behaviors, and/or personality(ies), then first person is usually the way to go.
     
  5. apothecaryrose
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    apothecaryrose Member

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    Thanks for the advice and the list :)

    It's definitely something I'm going to have to get a lot of thought and probably I'll write a some parts of the story both ways and see what happens. Perhaps I can put up what I write from doing that and get some feed back later on.

    You have helped out a great deal by telling me how you look at it. And given me quite a bit to think on.
     
  6. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Piers Anthony did this interesting thing on "On a Pale Horse" where it was in third person, but in a way that the MC's thought were being expressed almost as good as if it was in 1st person. It would often delve into the MC's mind, explain it's point of view as the MC perceived it (without changing POVs) and even ask rhetorical questions without it coming out as awkward. Great book : p.
     

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