1. ciinddyyy

    ciinddyyy New Member

    Sep 12, 2019
    Likes Received:

    First Person vs. Third Person

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by ciinddyyy, Sep 12, 2019.

    I want to start writing, but I have run into somewhat of a pickle very early on. I cannot decide between first or third-person perspective. I absolutely love writing in the first person, but it can become very repetitive and it is very hard to 'show' not tell. And as a reader, the first-person narrative can become almost boring. Because it almost seems like your being told the story through someone else, rather than being transported into the story like in third-person perspective.

    For third-person perspective, I like writing it and I feel like you can fit more details into the story. And it allows to 'show' more than 'tell'. I feel like it allows the story to flow a little neater. However, I feel like third person does not allow the reader to connect to the character as much. Which can be good in some cases, but worse in others.

    So for all you writers out there, I am just wondering your thoughts on perspective, and which you prefer to write in and why. Also if you have any advice for me I would love to hear it. Thank you.
  2. AnimalAsLeader

    AnimalAsLeader Active Member

    Aug 27, 2019
    Likes Received:
    It may sound silly but for me reading a first person book sounds like the author wants me to become the protagonist. Im not just following someone else Im basically told whay to do and feel. And this only works until a situation comes where I say "hold on I would never do that". This is where the immersion breaks for me and reading the pronoun "I" when it is clearly not me becomes confusing...
  3. GrJs

    GrJs Active Member

    Apr 26, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Personally I find first person annoying. It's all I this and I that and the protagonist is never interesting enough to be the narrator and are often times unbearably annoying. 1st person is also almost never done well. It is alright for short stories but doesn't lend itself to novel length.

    My advice is to try 2nd person past tense. Have the MC narrate as if telling the story after the fact. Another way to do so if you want the narrator to be your MC is to do what Patrick Routhfuss did in the King Killer Chronicles series and have the MC be telling the story to someone in the world. It's all told in third person but you know the narrator is the MC not only because he agrees to tell his story to a writer but because the only events he recalls are those he's there for.

    I recommend you read Name of the Wind and Wise Mans Fear. They might be a good example of what you want.
    Siriusly and ciinddyyy like this.
  4. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

    Nov 30, 2006
    Likes Received:
    Ohio, USA
    I have written in first person and third person limited. For me it really depends on the story to tell and the best route to use to relay that story to the reader. If you absolutely need other POVs to tell the tale, then 3rd. Otherwise 1st is the option, at least as I see it.

    Another thing to consider is to write in present tense or past tense. I usually stick with past. Present, if not done well, sounds more play-by-play than anything else.
  5. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

    Jul 7, 2016
    Likes Received:
    My novel-in-progress is written is first person. There seems to be a push for character-driven fiction in the literary world and I think this usually means first person. I did decide to write my novel in past tense and I think that was the right choice. Past tense allows you to add more depth and changes the pace, I believe. And most novels tend to be in past tense.

    I primarily write shorter works. It's what I do for a living. All my published short stories and narrative nonfiction pieces have been first person present tense. That's not all I write, but that's what's sold.
    Last edited: Sep 17, 2019
    Siriusly and ciinddyyy like this.
  6. cosmic lights

    cosmic lights Contributor Contributor

    Aug 30, 2018
    Likes Received:
    Norwich, UK
    I have read third person narration that is as close and personal as first. I'm not someone who really prefers either, I just prefer it when I feel like the author has made the right choice. Someone once told me, if you can't decide or it makes no difference, default to third person.

    • First - children books and YA tend to be in first because it's relatable, simpler, quicker to get to know the characters, build an attachment to the character, we know protagonist usually lives, can cheat with info dump about the world from characters perspective which is more interesting, can play with untrustworthy Narrator – can tell you want they want and choose not to tell you things

    • You need a strong interesting voice to carry it
    • Third Limited (default) – narrator only knows thoughts and feelings of one character. Is one person at a time in a scene. Be careful of view point errors – don't show things they can't see.(character back to the door, the door then opens and someone walks in. You wouldn't say 'the door opened and John walked in because the MC can't see who, if his back is to them.You can cater to a large cast, epic scope, hide stuff from reader. Be that character and see through their eyes whereas in first I feel like I'm being told a story by someone else. Someone else's story. Third is better for immersing you in a story (easier to set the scene) first is better for showing you a great character.
    • Can have an unreliable narrator (Wheel of Time)
    Those are just thoughts on perspectives, things to consider when choosing. Try a chapter in both and see which fits best.
    I hope this was helpful.
    Siriusly, ciinddyyy and Rzero like this.
  7. Rzero

    Rzero Reluctant voice of his generation Contributor

    Oct 29, 2018
    Likes Received:
    I read/audiobook tons of fiction of all types, and I firmly believe that most stories need one or the other specifically. Sometimes this is due to writing style, sometimes it's the story itself, but it rarely seems like a coin toss would result in one of two equally viable options.
    I've done this. Actually, I struggled through three chapters before realizing that I needed the intimacy of the MC's inner monologue as a constant presence. I think that's the big difference right there. You can express all sorts of inner thought in third person, and honestly, I think it's the correct choice far more often than not, but if you need extreme intimacy and visceral reactions, first person is the way to go. There's always a touch of omniscience in third person, no matter how limited or focused. To truly divide the world into inner thought and external events, you need first person. Again, I prefer third in most cases, but it's a matter of which benefits the story most.
  8. IHaveNoName

    IHaveNoName Senior Member Community Volunteer

    Mar 15, 2016
    Likes Received:
    I like both. I'm currently writing a short story in 1st person, and a novel series in limited 3rd. Like others have said, it really depends on how the story needs to be told. Greg Iles has even written in both at the same time - one character (nominally the "MC") is 1st, while all the other POV characters are 3rd. I wouldn't recommend this unless you're very comfortable writing and know what you're doing, but it is possible.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice