The wretched 1st/3rd Person POV Debate

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The wretched 1st/3rd Person POV Debate

Post  ladylilchubb on Mon 19 Apr 2010, 9:39 am

Alrighty, not sure if this is actually where this topic should go, so DRG feel free to delete or move if it's missplaced--it won't hurt my feelings.

I have a question that eats at me EVERY time I start writing.

To write in first person or third person, that is the question.
I understand the merits and disadvantages of both. I've written some of my stuff from both POVs, but can't decide which is the best way to tell all parts of my stories. I think I naturally write in first person. I found some of my little stories I started in 3rd grade--written in 1st person.

I've heard most people enjoy third person? How badly does switching POV jostle you as a reader? (I know when I first read a book with a POV change it drove me insane--here's lookin' at you, *cough*stephanie meyers*coughcough*)

Thoughts? Suggestions? Flames?

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Re: The wretched 1st/3rd Person POV Debate

Post  Seira on Mon 19 Apr 2010, 9:54 am

I like them both. Actully, if I remember correctly I once read an Ian Banks book that had first, second and third person...talk about confusing. And any and all murders were done in second person. -_-' Might be wrong about the author though, and I cannot for the life of me remember what the book was called. Hate it when that happens.

Anyway, I personally prefer to write first person but I mostly write in third. Do not ask me why, I'm still not sure.

Some writers though can pull off POV switches without a hitch. Sometimes it's interesting to see what is in another characters head, like with Jacob, thank you for the examble ladylilchubb. It was quite interesting to see in his head...now if only we could see what was in Edwards...XD However you have to be careful not to use too many POV's or switch them too often as it will eventually just confuse the reader.

That's my two cents. Hopefully I made sense because I'm only half awake. XD
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Re: The wretched 1st/3rd Person POV Debate

Post  aalmcmullen on Mon 19 Apr 2010, 11:14 am

First person works really well with urban fantasy and paranormal romance. It's the same world, but different, and riding behind one person's eyes, experiencing the differences and the similarities with the narrator, makes it a unique and more understandable experience.

I think the author should stick with third person though if they want to share the thoughts of another character. Switching POV is usually considered bad form, unless there is a major change that the author is using the change of POV to illustrate. The POV change in Breaking Dawn was okay because we did not know if Bella was dead or not. First person is limited like that - if you continued in first person POV during a possible death scene, the reader is going to know the narrator made it through it because the author usually uses past tense. So the narrator is talking about something that has already happened, but they're still here to talk about it, thus it must not have been too near death.

BUT - the author can use that assumption too. The reader assumes that since its first person POV, the narrator isn't going to die during the story. If the author can make it work, killing off the narrator has a huge impact. But then you have to figure out how to go on with the story - first person or third. I personally think it works better if it switches to another first person, as if somebody else had picked up the journal and continued writing, like Jacob or Dani. Having a third person POV after first person kinda seems like God is suddenly narrating, or a creepy omniscient stalker.
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Yes this does belong here! :)

Post  Dreamygrril on Mon 19 Apr 2010, 12:06 pm

Whatever is more natural to the writer is what I think they should use. If they get stuck saying "Danny" 100 times in their first paragraph then try it in 1st person. IF they then get stuck saying "I" 100 times... Well they need to learn more anyway Smile

I prefer 1st person to read and so I think that flows over into my love of writing in it. It's definately not for everyone, I have seen some truly scary 1st person, and I think it is the more difficult of the two.
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Re: The wretched 1st/3rd Person POV Debate

Post  Whisper on Mon 19 Apr 2010, 1:07 pm

I think it depends on the story. First person works really well with mystery-type stories, because it hooks you in and makes you part of the plot - you can't see anything other than what the narrator sees, so every surprise twist is a bomb shell. Third person I think is better for more epic stories, where it takes place in several locations. One person can't be everywhere, so it helps to have other perspectives.

That said, not everyone can write a good first person. Including me LOL It's extremely difficult to do, and requires a balancing act, so you stay true to the character while still telling their story AS THEY SAW IT. Third person is more comfortable for me and doesn't jostle too much. But again, it depends on the writing style. The trick is not to do it too often, I gues lol.

Personally, when I write short pieces from 3rd person, I keep it to one person's POV. For longer pieces that have chapters, I try to keep it to one switch per chapter. Rarely more than two. Smile Hope that helps.
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Scenario#1 (oh boy....)

Post  ladylilchubb on Mon 19 Apr 2010, 1:22 pm

Main character, is well, incapacited, shall we say.

Up to this point (and it's relatively early in the WIP--can't say for sure, but I think within the first 5,000 words or so) the whole story as been in first person, and from only one character, who for these purposes shall be named MC#1. Well when my MC#1 becomes, errr, incapacitated, I have a scene I really (Really REALLY) want to insert from the perspective of main character #2, or MC#2.

I would really hate to cut this scene--it makes everything flow so much better, gives background, sets plots, etc. It's a rad couple of paragraphs, if I do say so myself tongue . (Ok, so maybe just rad in my own little world, but bear with me on this....) And it is only a few paragraphs.... I guess it's similar to when Mac is out of the main story frame and danni takes over for a bit in DrmF, but in my WIP it's in a much smaller role/part--around 200 words I believe (don't have my stuff with me, atm.)

In my opinion, it just works better in first person. Given that it is only a few paragraphs long, is it worth the hassle of changing perspectives, or should I just axe it? (Or re-write the whole dang thing over in 3rd person? affraid ) Is it worth it to jostle a reader for just a tiny portion of the entire scheme of the novel? (I can't say more POV changes won't happen, but that's because I'm not done with the initial draft yet.)

Or italicize? Or break down crying and run for the liquor cabinet? LOL pirat


Last edited by ladylilchubb on Mon 19 Apr 2010, 2:32 pm; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : Added thought.)

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Re: The wretched 1st/3rd Person POV Debate

Post  Whisper on Mon 19 Apr 2010, 7:04 pm

ladylilchubb wrote:
Given that it is only a few paragraphs long, is it worth the hassle of changing perspectives, or should I just axe it? (Or re-write the whole dang thing over in 3rd person? affraid ) Is it worth it to jostle a reader for just a tiny portion of the entire scheme of the novel? (I can't say more POV changes won't happen, but that's because I'm not done with the initial draft yet.)

Or italicize? Or break down crying and run for the liquor cabinet? LOL pirat

How long will this story be? If we're talking novel length (over , say, 85,000 words) then 5,000 words in the beginning isn't enough to establish a main MC, in my opinion. If you want to switch later on, I'd say establish that at the beginning, and make the couple of paragraphs an entire chapter.

Without having read it, it's hard to give advice, but inserting two paragraphs in someone else's POV sounds like a bad idea to me. If it's just background and set-up, you can find another way to put that in, without breaking POV. Smile I wouldn't say you have to switch everything to 3rd person, though.

Just write what you want, finish the story, and then you can go back and polish it up.
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so it was a bit of a long 2 paragraphs....

Post  ladylilchubb on Mon 19 Apr 2010, 8:12 pm

alrighty, got to look at my stuff.

The problem scene with MC#2 occurs 7500 words in, and ends up being 2100 words long--long enough to I guess be it's own short chapter. Which is what I had it marked off as, but it had been so long since i've looked at that particular section of the MS I misremembered.

I'm just gonna finish, and then take it to the chopping block like Whisper said.

Oh the joys of the re-write...I can feel them coming.... Shocked

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Re: The wretched 1st/3rd Person POV Debate

Post  Liberty on Sun 23 May 2010, 3:25 pm

I like both, but I guess for it depends on the overall feel of the story.

Third person usually works best, but then you get insight from one or more characters too, switching it off to let the readers into their head.

First person is good for certain stories if the person telling is is in the center of something huge, and it helps create an air of mystery because the reader only knows as much as the character.
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