1. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    The James Patterson Method

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by NateSean, Apr 14, 2011.

    This isn't about the writer so much as his method for storytelling, at least in the books I've read.

    In the Alex Cross and Maximum Ride novels, the main character narrates in first person. But when the focus of the story changes to other characters it's written in the third person.

    Do any other established authors use this method? Are there any thoughts about it, negative or positive?
     
  2. KP Williams
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    KP Williams Contributing Member

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    If you primarily write in first person and cannot get away without showing a scene from another character's perspective, switching to third person seems like the most reasonable thing to do. It would be way too easy for a reader to get confused if you stuck with first person, especially if there's no discernible difference between the two narrators' voices.

    I don't have any particular author to cite for that, other than James Patterson. And myself, if I ever find myself in such a situation.
     
  3. spklvr
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    spklvr Contributing Member Contributor

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    Anne Rice does this in her novel "The Queen of the Damned"... kind of anyway.

    It's not something I consider bad writing. If it's about one character retelling their story, it makes sense to write other character's povs in third person.
     
  4. Ellipse
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    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

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    L.E. Modesitte does this in a couple of his novels.

    It's better than making all the characters have a first person POV. I read a book where it had four different MCs, and the author wrote all of them from first person. It just made the entire experience disorienting. You would get used to the way one character thought, then it would switch to another character. Get used to how they think, and switch again. Rinse and repeat.
     
  5. DeNile
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    DeNile Senior Member

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    I do it! But I'm unpublished, so I guess I don't count, eh?
     
  6. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    One of the best 1st person narratives that I have ever read was Soon I Will Be Invincible by Austin Grossman.

    The story centers around 2 characters, the major villain and a new superhero. The perspective switches back and forth into their own 1st person account of the story. It is actually quite ingenious the way it played out because as the events unfolded, you would watch the characters from the other perspective react in a semi-3rd person fashion.

    I don't know if I could write a story in 1st person and have to switch it out to a different perspective. Maybe the tone and scope of the book will suffer but hey, if you can make it sound good then go for it.
     
  7. Cthulhu
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    Cthulhu Member

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    I just read a book that did the opposite, the main character was in third, but when the book switched to a different 'focus character' [for want of a better word] that character narrated in first person. It worked very well in the book. [The book was Armor by John Steakley]

    But the same is not true for third person is it? I wouldn't think so, but haven't read any books with multiple third person 'focus characters, to confirm of disprove this.
     
  8. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    This is what I'm doing with my book. So far I've only had one chapter involving the main character which is not narrated in the first person, but in the third person from the perspective of a creature which is hunting her. For me that allowed more tension building and creative freedom for that chapter than if it was still the MC narrating.
     
  9. NateSean
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    NateSean Active Member

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    Jodi Piccoult did that in House Rules. Bram Stoker is the only person who has mastered that concept, in my opinion. (Dracula is written in the form of journal entries and letters from five different characters)
     
  10. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    For me the only time I object to POV is when the author has got it wrong for their story or it is confusing.

    I actually quite like Undercover Hardy Boys series which is told first person from both Frank and Joe's persepective taking a chapter about. I am doing third person version for my detectives because I have realised they are like a grown up Hardy Boys lol

    I did do two first persons for my second book and like the effect if I keep it. I can't remember any other examples other than the ones already given.
     
  11. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    James Michener used first person a lot in his novels to put himself at the periphery of the story. In "Tales of the South Pacific", he narrated most of the novel in 3rd person, but inserted himself into a few of the chapters as a minor character. It gave a sense of him really having been there. In "Hawaii", the entire novel is in 3rd person until the last paragraph, where he writes in the 1st person as one of the characters in the novel. In "The Source", he writes in the 1st person as an archeologist at a dig in Israel, and each new artifact that is found serves as the springboard to the era it represents, which is all in 3rd person. In "The Novel", there are four sections, each for a different chatacter - writer, editor, critic and reader. The writer is in 1st person, the other three are in 3rd person.

    It works as long as it is done in a way that doesn't confuse the reader.
     
  12. Birmingham
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    I know I'm a couple of years late here. Been thinking about this today because it's related to some of the latest discussions in this website. Harlan Coben did that in many books, and Linwood Barclay unfortunately started doing it too (thereby abandoning what I thought was an interesting sort of "signature" Barclay writing to just do what others are doing).

    I don't like it so much, because I figure if you do an ensamble with several 3rd person povs, you don't need one character as a 1st person. It's sort of "cheating" in my view. Because it's saying "hey, you see these five characters I've written, Adam, Bill, Charles, Debra and Edward? Well, just know, dear reader that Edward is the one you should truly care about and see as a full person, and side with him throughout arguments. Don't have positive feelings toward any character unless Edward tells you it's okay. Because Edward is the only one written in 1st person, specifically so you'll realize he's the one you should follow. I'm not trusting you enough to make this decision on your own.

    Of course, I could be wrong. I might even use this in the future. But this is how I feel right now. I'm open to having my mind changed, but I presume IF that happens, it'll be through my own experience than any argument.
     

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