FIRST OR THIRD PERSONA Lesson by Domenic Luciani
which should you write your story in?
Often times, when you read a book, without much analysis on the writing itself, you forget (or at least don't care) in which person the story is being told. Many writers choose one or the other and continue that sort of style for the majority of their lives.
Just so you know, which person you write in is not a life contract. You can switch it up whenever you want. However, it is best to stick with one and stay with it. Writing in a different person is like writing in a different genre, if you're known for one, the result of switching can seem unnatural, but then again it's just a possibility that's best to be avoided.
NOTE: do not go for second person, or at least don't show it to a professional.
FIRST PERSON: the advantage of writing a first person narrative is audience connection. When you speak from your own point of view, it makes the reader feel like you personally are telling them a story about yourself, which makes them feel for you/the character much more. It will allow you to be more descriptive with your actions and tell your emotions with more feeling.
NOTE: when writing a first person narrative, you must be careful. Everything you write is from the perspective of a different person, and you must change your style to match the tone of that individual character.
Disadvantages: The narrative can never leave the main character. This means that you can NOT under any circumstances switch the narrative over to someone else. You can laugh, but people still do it. It's unfortunate, I know. Anyways, your writing will most likely be shorter, seeing as other character's stories will not be able to be told without the aid of the main characters perspective, which means characters your main character is not completely familiar with will not get fair treatment.
NOTE: you need to be careful with realism in FP narratives, especially dealing with memory thought process. this follows up with the above note. If your story is from the point of view of an American teenager, then your writing should reflect that. Your word choice will be less sophisticated, there will be sarcasm (even in a serious story), the main character will worry about his/her appearances almost constantly, and he/she will rely on other characters for support most of the time. Stuff like that.
WARNING: their is a cliche' opening. It involves opening with the main characters explaining his/her life from some point in the middle of the story then jumping back with "But it all started when . . ." This has been done at least a million times before, and while it is technically 'acceptable' it really is not original, so I advise you to stray from that opening. Shoot for an opening that begins with an action, because chances are, it will always be original.
THIRD PERSON: The advantages of third person are much more obvious. You can tell a story from any characters point of view, switching back and forth whenever you want. It helps build suspense (have one character enter a perilous situation, then cut to a different character who is doing nothing particularly exciting, then the reader is desperate to know what's up with the first character). With third person, your personal style can always show through, no matter what age or thought process the character is.
NOTE: third person requires a massive amount of world building (world building does not always pertain absolutely to fantasy).
WARNING: with third person, their is the ever present danger of the 'info dump', scourge of all writing. Beware of this.
The disadvantages of third person are not so noticeable. With the lessening amount of personal inquiries on the main character's part, the reader will feel less attatchment, unless the main character has something truly memorable about them. That doesn't mean that third person characters are less cared about the first person ones, it just means the reader will have a more difficult placing themselves in the main characters position.
NOTE: my personal preference is third person, because I'm an avid supporter of personal style. The choice is completely up to you though.
Which perspective to write in is not a life choice. But it does help to choose one and stick with it.
Questions or comments, feel free to post below, or, if it's intensely personal, shoot me a message and I'll answer as soon as I can (likely a few minutes, as I'm on most of the day).
Once again, lessons are written directly in cafe' box. Excuse grammar mistakes.
Added on September 12, 2010
Last Updated on September 12, 2010
AboutThat is my real name, and that is really me in the picture. Like Patrick says, I'm not in the witness protection program. I mostly write books and stories. I like fantasy, or fiction, but if..