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Lv 5
Jessy asked in Arts & HumanitiesBooks & Authors · 10 years ago

Readers: First person or third person?

I'm in a bit of a fix...I'm trying to decide whether or not I should have my book in first or third person. First person being from the main character's point of view(I went to the store, I did my homework). Third person being about the main character, told by a narrator(She went to the store. She did her homework). I always write my prologues in third person, but I'm wondering about the rest of the story. I already wrote it in third, but I'm wondering if it might be better in first. If you chose a POV and say why that would be wonderful :) If you're looking for best answer, list the pros and cons of first vs third in YOUR opinion! Thanks for all of the help :D

17 Answers

  • 10 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I did the exact same thing with my book. I wrote it in 3rd person, switched the WHOLE THING to first, and then switched it back to third so I could add secondary narrators.

    I think it ultimately depends on your character and your story, to be honest. My main character, for instance, is both very self-aware and a wee bit egotistical. Therefore having the story in 1st person was a bit overwhelming to read because the reader was getting pelted by "I" this and "I" that and "As for me." And the story felt a bit spoon fed. With third person I found that I was able to have a bit more control on the filter between the character's mind and the audience. It doesn't feel as much like a soliloquy now. Also, once I switched it back to third person, I realized that the story (it's epic fantasy) was getting bogged down with the other main character just sitting down and telling my character what was going on in other parts of the book. So when something is happening elsewhere, I let the other character narrate it. But this is because my story is a "big picture." It's about more than just one person.

    Take the musical "Grease" for instance. Is it all about Sandy and her romance, or is it about the whole school? If the story you want to tell revolves around your main character, then use first person. If it concerns other people, then maybe 3rd person would be better.

    Harry Potter is also a great example. It is written in 3rd person, though it's almost all from Harry's point of view. However, if it had been in first person, the reader would have been so bogged down with Harry's internal struggles that we wouldn't even have really noticed what else would have been going on in the book.

    The opposite goes for Twilight. It is in 1st person from Bella Swan's point of view. It is ALL about Bella and her relationships with Edward and Jacob. Even though other things are going on, it all only matters because it determines whether or not they get to stay together. If this book was in 3rd person, even from Bella's point of view, the story would automatically open up a bit more and you'd be invested in the story for the Cullens as a whole, instead of just Bella and her romance.

    I used those books as examples because they are popular, mind. Not necessarily because I thought they are the best examples of literature, but hopefully you get my point.

    If in doubt, pick the most important chapter in your book (probably the climax) and rewrite it into first and see if you like it better. For all you know, you might try it and hate it.

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  • It depends on whether or not you want the readers attention focused on one main character at all times, some times it can be more personal in 1st person but if you know how to write it you can make it just as personal in 3rd person. In my personal opinion, 3rd person is better if you have more than two main characters. I HATE (not really because i love the saga) to use this as an example but Twilight, it had more than two main characters, Bella, Edward, Jacob, The Wolves and the Cullen's, now, when I read it I always wondered what the other characters were doing, thinking, saying, etc. But you never got to know unless Bell was around, and you never knew what they thought. So I guess it depends, if you want the reader to be more focused and and on a personal level with only one character then go first person, but if you want us, the readers to know all the characters and relate to them then go third. Again, its all my personal opinion.

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  • 10 years ago

    I prefer first person I think, though to add some third is good. I like those that have the first person views of two people (like a cop and a killer or a guy and a girl). First person is better IMO because you can get into your characters head, their thoughts and feelings. Though there is a place for a third person viewpoint have had read many a good book written that way.

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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    I'm a writer too, only 11 years old. I used to like writing in first person, most likely because then it will be more descriptive of what the main character I doing. But I found that it was way easier to do third person, because then you can describe what EVERY person in the book could be thinking of, and what they are doing at times when they aren't with the main person. So if you do first person, then you can only tell what the main character is doing or thinking, but if you do third person, then you can switch from everyone's point of view, so you can go from someone named Jeremy and say "Jeremy went to the house and saw what he was looking for." then put two spaces instead of one or a symbol to show that you change to someone named sarah and say "Sarah walked over to her home and saw a man dressed in black hunched over her dresser." and the man could be Jeremy or something.

    Source(s): Hi I'm the person that said the question "what's this type of person called? For a story I'm writing?"
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  • 4 years ago

    I personally like reading books that are in first person more because you can get more of a sense of how the main character feels. But if you have already started writing in third person it would be difficult to change.

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  • Missy
    Lv 4
    10 years ago

    Honestly, it all depends on what you're comfortable with for the story. For me, it all depends on the book. I loved reading Harry Potter in third person. Likewise, I loved reading Twilight in first person. What people don't understand about Twilight is, it's from Bella's perspective. Bella isn't that bright, so I don't think she would sound perfectly brilliant on the page. People always mistake Bella's perspective for Stephanie Meyer's writing. I don't think Bella is supposed to sound like a middle-aged mother. As for Harry Potter, it benefits from being in the third person. J.K. Rowling could have a chapter about Voldemort, without Harry knowing what's going on. If it was from Harry's perspective, you wouldn't know about anything Voldemort was actually doing. It would be a guessing game, pretty much. Perhaps, the Harry Potter series would have been interesting to read from Harry's perspective. In Twilight, there's always this bit of mystery, because it's from Bella's perspective. Even though she could see stuff at face value, she didn't have any idea what was really going on. Behind the scenes, Edward was a vampire. She didn't know what she was getting into, when she moved to Forks. If it was from the third person, Twilight would have lost it's mystery. You would basically watch it all play out.

    I have experience writing from both third and first person. Again, it depends entirely on the story you're writing. Put yourself in the reader's seat. Would you enjoy your story more if it were from a character's perspective or from an all knowing eye? It's all up to you.

    Right now, I'm working on a fantasy series. I'm actually writing it in the first person, which is uncommon for fantasy novels. I can't tell you why I wanted to write in the first person for this story. I just felt compelled to. My heart told me it was the right decision, I guess. The interesting thing with novels is, you can switch it up sometimes. Even though my story is set in the first person, my prologue is actually in the third person. I wouldn't have done that if the story did not permit it. Actually, it's quite common for writers to change perspectives, whilst on the same story. Sorry to bring up Twilight again, but have you looked at Breaking Dawn? It's actually divided into three books. Book one was from Bella's perspective. Book two was from Jacob's perspective. Book three was from Bella's perspective. I'm not going to spoil it, but the story did permit the change of perspectives. It wouldn't have worked if it was from only Bella's perspective, given the situation. I personally didn't like reading from Jacob's perspective, but I see why it was done.

    Pros for third person: all knowing eye, able to show what's happening behind the scenes, without the main character knowing what's happening

    Pros for first person: better able to relate to the reader, may get the reader glued to the page more, puts the reader in the character's shoes, gives the story a little more mystery because you don't know what's happening behind the scenes

    I'd like to mention, even though I'm using first person, not all writer's should. I do well with both first and third, because I've been practicing quite heavily for years. I know, given my age, it doesn't seem so, but I'm very experienced. There is a certain art to writing in the first person. It either works or it doesn't. The biggest problem some writers have with making first person work, is the usage of words such as: I, me, she, he, and etc... It's all about the way the writer structures each sentence. Some writers think that every other sentence has to start with, "I..." or "She..." It absolutely does not. Those writers just need to practice and learn on the job! :)

    I hope I helped a bit. Happy holidays!

    Source(s): I'm a seventeen year old writer.
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  • I think it depends on the feel you want your novel to have. I prefer to write in first person just because it's so personal. It feels more like the main character is speaking to you, whereas in third person it feels like you're just hearing the main character's thoughts and such. However, a story in third person has its advantages. Switching between characters is effortless and not confusing for the reader. I still prefer first person though, but that's just me.

    I hope I helped! :D

    Source(s): I'm an aspiring author.
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  • Anonymous
    10 years ago

    for me, i love writing in third person, although i'm trying to improve in first person. they both have a different atmosphere, and i'll just list them.

    first person allows you to see into a character more easily than third person. you can see the personality of a character more clearly because he/she is narrating the story. you see the story form his/her eyes: their emotions on certain scenes, whether happy or sad, their feelings. writing from a first person can give a person a more definable character. however, the not-so-great thing is you can't see other people's viewpoints, what they feel, unless they're interacting with the main character directly.

    third person, for me, has a mysterious feel around it. there's more room to play around, meaning you can write easily from one character's point of view, then switch to another. not saying you can't with first person, but, i suppose, to make first person more consistent, it has to be within a certain amount of characters, like two. third person allows you emotions based around everyone (sometimes i wish italics are possible, for effect). you can easily see the emotions around everyone, and it isn't as narrow as first person. the thing about third person, although i haven't run into something like this, you can easily get confused with meanings, what different characters might really mean.

    both point of views' pros and cons are interchangeable, but for me, this is what i think. like you, i would personally write the prologue in third person, too, and continue on with the same point of view.

    good luck on your book! i hope this helps you some.

    Source(s): an aspiring writer (three years)
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  • 10 years ago

    I say what ever you feel better with, in my prologue i wrote in first person but the rest of the story i'll write in third person because I like the reader to know everyone else is feeling and know their thoughts than just one person.

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  • 10 years ago

    Honestly, third person. It's always easier to write what other people think and say. Even if it's a character that is in first person, I always find it hard to start a story in first person. Trust me, I've tried.

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