The Point of View questions thread

Discussion in 'Character Development' started by SB108, Jul 8, 2007.

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  1. Kaiser_Ozymandias

    Kaiser_Ozymandias New Member

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    It seems to me that writing in the first person is much easy as it allows you to truly transcend and really become the character. This may be due to my love of sitting down and making and writing with nothing but a small cluster of characters.
     
  2. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    I'm currently writing in third, but I can also do first. Honestly it depends on what I feel is right for the story, don't have a set criteria that I go by.
     
  3. Evian

    Evian Banned

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    Use both? Most of the best books, use a mixture. They slip in and out of third and first depending on the scene and setting. However there are great books that have been written in just one or the other, A Wild Sheep Chase, was entirely first person while one of the greatest fantasy trilogies, The Lord of the Rings, was written in third.

    But for depth of reading I would say use both.
     
  4. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Please don't mix first and third like that. Most books are written in EITHER first or third person. Not both. And that's because it's what works most of the time. I'm not looking for examples of what you're talking about with a first-to-third switch somehow having to do with a scene or setting. That just sounds crazy and confusing.
     
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  5. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Which great books do that? I can't think of any books that do it, let alone great ones!
     
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  6. Evian

    Evian Banned

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    :crazy: Ai! Got mixed up there... that will teach me to answer a post before I am properly awake!
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Micheal Connelly does it quite a lot , generally scenes with his main protagonist (whether that's Harry Bosch, Mickey Haller ,or Jack McEvoy) are written in first , while scenes with the antagonist but without the protag are written in third ... which is less confusing than head swapping for two first person views

    actually thinking about it its fairly common in crime fiction - the detective, PI or whatever is written in first, while the occasional look at what the villain /serial killer or whatever is up to is in third - apart from Connely I've seen it in Rober B Parker, Lee Weeks, Sue Grafton and so forth

    Richard Montanari does it the other way round with his detective main protags written in third but occasional looks inside the killer antags head in first.
     
  8. Denegroth

    Denegroth Banned

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    First person is highly-specialized writing. The narration from afar of a distant past, as though the narrator had a significant role to play in what events were involved is the most common use of first-person. This only works if the events were of moment. And, you still have to justify why it's "this person" telling the story. After all, it's not you the writer telling it. It's your main character telling it.

    A technical difficulty with this is the loss of the god perspective. The narrator only knows what he's or she's seen, or heard. What people thought, or what their motivations were during the story are beyond any of the participants, just as in real life we cannot read the minds of others. We can only either believe what they say, or not believe it. This removes a central authority from the author, and care has to be taken not to "know too much." Of necessity, the reader has to do without pertinent information that would explain the wherefores and the whys. This means only certain kinds of stories lend themselves well to a first-person narrative. Detective stories are often written in this fashion. So was David Copperfield, but that's a very thick book. (Personally, I didn't really care what happened to David Copperfield about two-thirds way into that book. "Who's he anyway?")

    I do disagree with the notion taking this perspective somehow gives an author insight into a character. All characters are invented by the author, with dictatorial control over their natures and proclivities. There's nothing to understand for the author other than what sort of person is this character. That must be decided before the character is written into a story, or the character's presence in the story is only that of an appendage. It can hardly be woven into anything; more like an applique than a structural feature.

    I'd treat this as I do dialect in speech; use only if the concept of the work demands it. As I said, it's specialized. Using it creates a unique set of circumstances. Unless the story itself requires it, I don't see any justification for it aside from that of being a conceit - which too is the right of all artists.
     
  9. malaupp

    malaupp Active Member

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    I prefer first person if that specific character's view can heighten the story. As in, they see the world in a certain way that's so much different from everyone else. Or else their narrow viewpoint gives the writer the edge for a plot twist later on that the MC didn't see coming.

    But if neither of those points apply, I prefer third.
     
  10. Jacquesari

    Jacquesari New Member

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    Most books I read are in 3rd, but I don't mind 1st if it works with the story that's being told.

    I write in both, depending on what I am writing about. I write a lot about emotions, so sometimes a 1st person narrative allows me to dig a little deeper.
    I do have one WIP where there are 4 MCs and 3 POVs, all in 1st person with the 4th MC featuring heavily in the eyes of the others, but never getting a POV himself.
     
  11. pitviper

    pitviper Member

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    Third. Always third.
     
  12. Lonely Shadow

    Lonely Shadow Member

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    I personally appreciate third person because you can jump points of view between characters but... at the same time amateurs tend to do that whole "XYZ's POV" and then later in the chapter go "ABC's POV". That there irks me.
     
  13. Zadocfish

    Zadocfish Member

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    I have tried first-person before. I could not get into it, no matter how hard I tried. Third-person limited perspective is the best of both worlds, for me, because there is WAY LESS DETAILS that you need to keep track of, while you still only need to narrate the thoughts of one character.
     
  14. Trina Lynne

    Trina Lynne New Member

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    I'm a firm believer that you should never force yourself to write in a particular voice. Some things sound better in third person and others in first.

    I feel that if you are unsure what voice is best, you should try to write one chapter in each and flip-flop back and forth. Doing this can help you get a feel for which one you are more comfortable. Also, doing this allows you to see how the story flows in both. You may find that first is best if you are emersed in the story or you may want your readers to watch the action and third would be the way to go.
     
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  15. CDanChan

    CDanChan New Member

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    For a long time I didn't even realise first person was a thing outside of autobiographies! I think I read a book by Jack Higgins about a soldier stuck on an island that was occupied by Nazis in WWII that was in first person and after getting over the initial disgust, still struggled to get into it. I think it was so jarring because I'd received a boxset and I'd already read a few of the other books, which I'd really enjoyed.

    But then I discovered Raymond Chandler and it completely changed my perspective.

    As a writer I tend to find that it comes a lot easier in first person, and I don't get as bogged down in the details. However, sometimes I have the same problem as in the OP, it becomes a bit too much like me. And too conversational/informal depending on the subject.
     
  16. Lucifette

    Lucifette Member

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    First. As a child and preteen I wrote in the third mainly cause most books geared towards readers that age are written that way. Then I began reading more teen drama and adult novels that were in the first person and I just slid into that. Even while writing papers for college when my professors said to keep it neutral, I struggled with adding a lot of "I" and "me." I like it this way because I prefer to center the story on one person and their thoughts and emotions. Even now when I read third person it doesn't feel as personal.
     
  17. Pipersong

    Pipersong New Member

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    I find it more comfortable to write in third person. I tried a couple of times to write in first person, but it never has clicked with me. First person is just too personal for me and I struggle a lot more with 'showing' a character's emotions rather than 'telling' it. I also feel that as a storyteller, first person makes you, as the author, become much more involved with the character. Rather than just recounting the story as a narrator, I am now recounting a story as the protagonist. Not being able to add that distance complicates everything for me.
     
  18. GeorgiaMasonIII

    GeorgiaMasonIII Member

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    I ordinarily write first person only if I feel like I'm really in the character's head and they have a unique voice that will be interesting to the reader. I feel like there isn't enough advantage to first person if the character's voice isn't unusually compelling.
     
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  19. xxShyguyxx

    xxShyguyxx New Member

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    A combination of both actually
     
  20. A.V.K.

    A.V.K. Member

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    I prefer third person most of the time, but first person allows for narrative set-ups and situations that would be harder to do strictly in the third person.
     
  21. Anonybook

    Anonybook New Member

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    Personally, I like to use third-person because I find for me it makes it easier to build up the character. Some people may argue that first-person is better for getting a personal point of view but I find it easier to just describe how they feel in third-person. Also, I like working with lots of different characters in my writing, and so it is easier for me to keep track of who is who and what is what if I use the third-person.
     
  22. AkaHeisenberg

    AkaHeisenberg New Member

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    Hey everyone,
    So I'm new to writing but have had this great idea for a long time. I have the entire story line mapped out and all the details noted. My problem is I started writing the first few pages and I'm second guessing my POV.
    I'm writing in first person present but I'm having a hard time with scene change without literally writing everything my character is doing. Like how to go from point a to b without talking about how I got there step by step. I feel first person is required because it's a phycological thriller that takes place in three main places, dream, reality and the book my character is writing. I just don't know to transition properly.
     
  23. Spencer1990

    Spencer1990 Contributor Contributor

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    Welcome to the forum @AkaHeisenberg.
    I don't think choice of POV has to be a burden on transitions; they can be handled deftly regardless.

    I think it would help you to understand narrative-time and make use of summary in some cases. And there are cases in which you won't need summary to transition. A few well-placed details can orient the reader in the new time/location.

    I would suggest looking through some first-person present tense examples that you have handy and seeing how the published authors transitioned. I used to struggle with them as well, and those things can be easily overlooked when we read, but when you're looking for them, it becomes obvious how the author used a good transition.

    You can also make use of white space, asterisks, etc. to denote a change in time/space.

    Hope this helps.

    Edit: This link has a decent breakdown with examples of manipulating narrative time.
    http://www2.anglistik.uni-freiburg.de/intranet/englishbasics/Time02.htm
     
  24. AkaHeisenberg

    AkaHeisenberg New Member

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    Thanks Spencer I'll look into that.
     
  25. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    Welcome to the forum. What you're describing here is called narrative summary. Basically it's a form of narration that summarizes an extended experience or passage of time without resorting to a blow by blow (or step by step as you said) account of everything that happens. The blow by blow can be great when something important happens but narrative summary is often better at moving the story along. So something like:

    "Jerry picked through his closet, tossing shirts onto his unmade bed. The whites were all wrinkled and his favorite powder blue was missing a button. The top one. Shit. No time to sew a new one now. The yellow pinstripe might work but he all his blue ties were at the dry cleaners and old man Abraham laughed at him the last time he paired red over yellow. 'You trying to piss people off, or just make them have to pee?' he'd said, and that had been the last time he'd been allowed to meet with clients directly. Since then he'd favored the whites. You could pair any tie with white, and he chose one with only minimal wrinkles and cinched a black tie around his neck while he guzzled coffee with his free hand. He was out the door and halfway to the office before he realized he forgot to shave."

    would be a blow by blow account of Jerry's frazzled morning. Whereas something like this:

    "Jerry was late and his boss chewed him out again. They started the meeting without him and made him stay late to finish the paperwork. He had to skip lunch and by the time he got home dinner had eluded him too. And the dog had pooped on the rug. And he was out of beer."

    would be a narrative summary of Jerry's day. No blow by blow, just the main strokes with an occasional detail. Writers use this method of narration to account for days or weeks or even years of a character's life when they need filler material or something to delineate time or the space between more important scenes. It's one of the most important tools in your toolbox. If you want to practice, I would suggest writing one paragraph summaries of the last day, week, month, and year of your life. Try to make each summary the same length and see how the details become broader as your units of time increase.

    Good luck
     
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