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Author Topic: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?  (Read 10752 times)

AJZaethe

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Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #15 on: January 26, 2011, 05:48:35 PM »
I am a huge story teller.  I love telling tales, reiterating tales, hearing tales, and seeing them be told to an audience.  And of course, this style is called Omniscient.  It allows me to tell the story and I love doing that.  I like First Person as well, if they story gets really personal, but I personally feel that it just drags you along.  Not in a boring way, but in the "I am an unrelenting story" way.  Which obviously is a good thing, you want to bring the reader along, but I feel like I am being rushed.  Especially when I want to get to know a world more intimately.  Don't get me wrong, I appreciate First Person.  Thoroughly enjoyed Chronicles of the Black Company, but I wanted to know more about their world.  And it never really happened.  So I was dragged along the story. 

I have also written in First Person myself, but sometimes, my story telling comes out and I switch to Second Person by accident.  I can't help it.  The mysterious man by the fire, watching the crowd enjoy their dinner wants to inform them on a moral lesson through his tale and he needs to deliver it soon.  And so he goes into Second Person.


Offline Funky Scarecrow

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #16 on: January 26, 2011, 06:05:01 PM »
Depends entirely on the story, for me. I usually start writing in third person limited, but for occasions where I realise the PoV character may not be 100% reliable in their interpretation of the 'past events' in the story, I often retool the story into first person. An unreliable narrator is best utilised in first person, in my own opinion.

That being said, I do think a story in first person needs to be either a short story or else a pretty short novel. I couldn't read let alone write 180k words all in first person. There are limits to both its narrative scope and usefulness.
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Offline Overlord

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #17 on: January 27, 2011, 04:39:52 AM »
Depends entirely on the story, for me. I usually start writing in third person limited, but for occasions where I realise the PoV character may not be 100% reliable in their interpretation of the 'past events' in the story, I often retool the story into first person. An unreliable narrator is best utilised in first person, in my own opinion.

That being said, I do think a story in first person needs to be either a short story or else a pretty short novel. I couldn't read let alone write 180k words all in first person. There are limits to both its narrative scope and usefulness.

That's a good point. I find it harder reading first person than I do third person, but easier writing first person than I do third person... I think because first person is 'your vision', so to step into someone else's vision for such a long time is difficult... yet staying within your own vision is easy. Third person you are writing to explain too, I guess first person you are writing more to document/record.

Switching from third to first is an interesting concept. Do you know any published authors who do this? I'm just trying to think of one... I'm sure there must be a few.
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Offline The Mad Hatter

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #18 on: January 27, 2011, 05:29:28 AM »
Switching from third to first is an interesting concept. Do you know any published authors who do this? I'm just trying to think of one... I'm sure there must be a few.

Yes, because that's where I got the idea, but I can't remember the name...

Or think of Thieves World, where the first person switched from story to story.

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AJZaethe

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Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #19 on: January 27, 2011, 07:41:48 PM »
The third novel of the Onslaught Cycle of Magic the Gathering switched between the two.  It was flawless.  Other stories that I have seen do this have been very jarring.  I believe few can pull it off without jarring the reader.

Offline MTMaenpaa

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #20 on: February 02, 2011, 03:17:54 AM »
I tend to let the needs of the story dictate the POV, though I find 3rd person more comfortable for most longer works.  I have a few pieces written in 1st person, because the characters voice will snap in my mind.

I do like to use 1st person in a writing exercise, writing from the perspective of X character explaining things to me.  Useful for getting a voice down, working out a character's perspective on recent events or even determining motivation.
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Offline Khaldun

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2011, 06:29:24 PM »
At first I wrote all my stories in the third person. Now I'm starting to really enjoy writing short stories in first person, although I'm not exactly sure why. It feels more personal, and its the way we naturally tell stories. My novel length works are all still third person currently, however.
I don't really have a preference either way when reading. First person can be done well (Dresden) and so can third person (GRRM).

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #22 on: February 08, 2011, 08:27:23 PM »
That being said, I do think a story in first person needs to be either a short story or else a pretty short novel. I couldn't read let alone write 180k words all in first person. There are limits to both its narrative scope and usefulness.

We'll have to agree to disagree on this one.  Just off the top of my head, I offer Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun series, Patrick Rothfuss' Name of the Wind and presumably the upcoming The Wise Man's Fear, Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos' novels (twelve published with another seven promised), and Roger Zelazny's Chronicles of Amber (both the Corwin cycle and the Merlin cycle) as evidence.

Offline Dan D Jones

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #23 on: February 08, 2011, 08:33:48 PM »
Switching from third to first is an interesting concept. Do you know any published authors who do this? I'm just trying to think of one... I'm sure there must be a few.

Yes, because that's where I got the idea, but I can't remember the name...

Or think of Thieves World, where the first person switched from story to story.

Heroes Die by Matthew Stover does it.

The Name of the Wind does as well, although it does so via the technique of a frame story and not via viewpoint switches per se.



Offline UnforgivingMuse

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2011, 01:44:46 PM »
It is much easier to write in first person; third takes control, both of how close to the character you are, and also to hold the narrative voice. The temptation with third is to drift off and either pop into other character's heads or just become a vague omniscient voice. All of which are fine if done with control, but if not that narrative voice just switches to the author's and not the character's, something that may well put the reader off.

That said, I'm using both first and third person perspectives in my novel (in different sections); as DDJones mentioned, it's what is right for the story.

John Mullan's book How Novels Work, has some good analysis of the different approaches.

Offline Nighteyes

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Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2011, 04:44:45 PM »
I dislike reading first person cos every time I take a break from reading to live my normal life, I have a damn inner monologue going on.  'I was disappointed by the contents of my fridge.  I smelt the milk, it did not smell fresh' etc etc....
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Offline Mark Lawrence

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2011, 10:46:00 PM »
I like both. I don't think there's a publishing prejudice against 1st person.

I think all of Robin Hobb's work is in 1st person.

A lot of contemporary fantasy is written in 1st person (I'm told) - Black Company, by Cook, and Name of the Wind, by Rothfuss (not read those but I'm sure they're 1st person).

It's not new though - I think the 1,000+ Gor books that date back to the 70s are in first person as are Zelany's ten Amber books.

Mark

Offline Overlord

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #27 on: February 11, 2011, 12:45:57 PM »
I like both. I don't think there's a publishing prejudice against 1st person.

I think all of Robin Hobb's work is in 1st person.

A lot of contemporary fantasy is written in 1st person (I'm told) - Black Company, by Cook, and Name of the Wind, by Rothfuss (not read those but I'm sure they're 1st person).

It's not new though - I think the 1,000+ Gor books that date back to the 70s are in first person as are Zelany's ten Amber books.

Mark

Name of the Wind switches between the two... it starts in third and then the character begins to tell another character about his life so that he can document it. You'd probably quite like it Mark, it is done in a similar way to your novel - i.e. a kind of reflective and kind of cocky voice. ;P
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Offline WizardofWestmarch

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Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #28 on: February 12, 2011, 07:59:51 PM »
To me switching between first and third person as part of a framing story isn't the same as just switching (usually having one or two characters as the First person viewpoints, and the rest being third limited or similar).

After all, at least the vast majority of Name of the Wind (maybe all, I read it over a year ago) is really from Kvothe's viewpoint, including the third person parts.
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Offline ashleyjbarnard

Re: First person or Third person, which one do you prefer?
« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2011, 04:22:12 AM »
I write better using first person, but I usually use third. There's always something in another character's head that I need to get to the bottom of. : )

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