1. WhenIt'sDark

    WhenIt'sDark New Member

    Mar 29, 2013
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    Alternating first and third person

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by WhenIt'sDark, Jun 10, 2013.


    I've been playing around with the point of view of my novel and I have decided to change POV between my MC and other important characters. I decided to do this because there are quite a few important scenes that my MC does not witness.

    Now I was wondering if it would be possible to write the scenes from the POV of my MC in first person and all the other parts in third person. I think that this will give the reader the feeling that my MC really is the main character. Also while writing this felt very natural and without thinking about it I started writing in this way.

    I was also thinking about adding a prologue where my MC addresses the reader. She will tell the reader that this is her story and that she decided to write it down. She will say that she gathered stories from the other characters and put them all together. Since my story is Sci-fi I think that this will make my story more believable, as if it actually happened. Do you think this is a good idea? And if so, should this be a prologue or a first chapter?

    Thank you!
  2. Shandeh

    Shandeh Active Member

    Jun 3, 2013
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    This is seriously over-done. I actually refuse to read anything that starts this way nowadays [last time I read anything that started with the MC addressing the reader was about 5 years ago, Black Beauty I think, which is a work of art but sadly one of the only true works of art that start this way]. Also doesn't help that it is, to me, a marker of an amateur - I used to start every story like this, when I first started writing.

    I'm writing with alternating [sort of] points of view at the moment. I'm not writing sci-fi [unusual for me! - though I call what I write futuristic warfare, which is a genre in and of itself], but rather a crime novel. My MC is an FBI agent, a criminal profiler in the Behavioral Analysis Unit. I'm using first person for him, and third person for the killer. It works well if used for the right purpose and written well.

    In other stories I've been working on, I've written solely in third-person. That's my default for sci-fi/futuristic warfare because for some reason it doesn't really work for me to write combat from 1P [and you really need to pick a perspective you'll write each major character in and stick with it]. It's usually 3P limited, so I can still get into the character's head. 3P omniscient is REALLY hard to write well enough that the reader is truly engaged with the character, because it can be hard to show rather than tell when your narrator can see everything.

    As far as I'm concerned, you are the author, and the writing is your art. Write it how you like, as long as there is a strong purpose to your choices, but try to avoid over-done conventions. You should write for you as much as for the reader.
  3. EdFromNY

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Jun 13, 2010
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    Queens, NY
    It would be much less awkward to write it all in 3rd person limited. You can then change POVs to your heart's content. As for letting the reader know that the MC is really the MC, your story should be able to do that. For example, Tom Clancy changes POVs relentlessly throughout his novels, and no one ever loses track of the fact that Jack Ryan is, in fact, the MC.

    No. Leaving aside the prologue debate that has been taken up elsewhere on the forum with puzzling vigor, there should be no need for the MC to tell the reader how the elements of the story were gathered. If it's important for the reader to know how, then the stories themselves should make that apparent. If it isn't, then telling the reader is simply bogging him/her down at the very point in the story at which you are trying hardest to engage.

    If I may, in both your questions I see a tendency that is very common in novice writers, and to which I myself fell victim in my first novel attempt - explaining every last detail to the reader. A really good story lets readers work some things out for themselves. What will make your sci-fi story more believable will be how you present it, how plausible you make your sci-fi world and how gripping the story is to the reader. My advice is to work on those elements and let your story do its work.
  4. huntsman40

    huntsman40 Active Member

    May 29, 2013
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    The idea of writing a prologue the way you suggest is generally a bad idea and definitely if you do it poorly. If you were writing your book as if it is the MC writing a journal that the reader "finds" then perhaps you can do it, but again it’s not really needed and can look really tacky.

    Some people hate reading books that swap from first to third person, and more so if the changes are not well defined and leave you with confused moments as to what is going on. As long as you avoid those moments it’s fine to swap forms. I personally prefer to pick one perspective and go with it when I write, but it’s not the only way to write and sometimes third person works very well for some types of writing.

    Do be very careful though if you write it as you have suggested that it is your MC telling their story and have them getting the third party accounts given to them. If you do this, do not make the mistake of wring information in third party that your MC could not have ever collected themselves. I've seen this happen in numerous books, and I normally stop reading at that point.

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