Wednesday, January 19, 2011

What's Your Preference: First or Third person?

Recently, I submitted a manuscript to my publisher, so now it's time to sit back and wait. Or at least try to. The problem is, I've never been the patient type, so waiting to hear back is like asking my children to do their chores or homework and then waiting for them to actually do it. The reality is: It's not going to happen any time soon.

Since I can't pester my publisher like I can my kids, I've decided, instead, to focus on my next novel. Ideas have been churning, but it's also made me stop and wonder about narrative styles. These days, more and more books are written in first person (ie. "I said," rather than "he said") It used to bother me to read them, but I have to admit they've grown on me over the years. So I thought I'd put this question out there for anyone to answer:

Do you have a preference between first or third person? If so, why?

I'd love any and all feedback.

14 comments:

  1. I prefer 1st person... I think that it makes the characters more real.. I feel like I am actually in the story rather then being told about it. Hope this helps!
    Steph

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  2. I've been struggling with that question myself lately. I just read a book that was in first person that was done so well, I absolutely loved it. I tend to write in third person, but I'm noticing this YA project I'm working seems to be screaming at me to be written in 1st. Could be just a feeling of being more connected to the mc. I honestly enjoy reading both, it's when I start to notice the narrator that I know something is wrong. Also I think I enjoy more action oriented stories told in 3rd and more thought provoking stories told in 1st.

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  3. I prefer to read third person. I like the feeling of standing back & observing rather than - it is happening to me - so to speak.

    marypres@gmail.com

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  4. I prefer first person because it is so much easier to feel like you're inside the story. Sometimes third person stories feel cold and distant. Plus, I think it's REALLY hard to do third person right. You have to be a master author I think to make third person sound engaging. I have abandoned many a book because the third person narrative made it too difficult to empathize with the characters and get into the story.

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  5. I replied to your newsletter email before I saw this post, so I'll answer it here too! :)

    I used to not like first person, but like you, its grown on me. If the story needs to be told from multiple view points, of course you have to go with third. But if there is no need to shift pov, then I've found I actually prefer first person. (Though I think I'd really struggle with writing that way, at first at least!)

    Good luck deciding!

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  6. I write in third person. Simply because it's far easier with a complicated cast of characters with very definitive personalities. (Hugs)Indigo

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  7. I prefer to read 1st person because I feel like I get to know the characters better. I prefer to write in 3rd person because it's so much easier for me than writing in 1st. Go figure!

    Best of luck as you wait to hear from your publisher. Starting a new project is a great way to pass the time!

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  8. I like to read first person, because in the Twilight books for example you become Bella!

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  9. I have to admit used to not like first person at all but I think that had to do to the books I chose weren't very good. I love third person but lately I have read a couple books that were in first person , Twilight and a few others and now I'm in enjoying it more . So I have to say both depends on the book.

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  10. I like book in third person, because I don't like to be a character. I like to watch. And besides, first person always makes me a little confuse XD

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  11. Thanks everyone for your comments and perspectives. You've all definitely given me something to think about. If there's one thing I'm learning, it's that you can't please everyone no matter how hard you try. Maybe I'll just have to write one of each. :)

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  12. i guess it depends on the story, since I have loved books written from both perspectives. But I like with first person that you get the hear more of the character's thoughts.

    I can't wait to read your new book!

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  13. I used to haaaaaaaaaate reading in first person. The first draft of my first book was written in third person, but Rhea just didn't flow in third. So I bit the bullet and changed it--still hating it.

    But YA fiction has changed my mind. Now I like it. Now (dare I say) I prefer it. But really it comes down to how much input you need from other characters or the bad guy. With first person you only get one perspective, which doesn't work for some stories. Others it does.

    Can't wait to read your new one :)

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  14. As far as reading, I like both if they're done well. But writing, oh first is so hard! It is really difficult to maintain the point of view without accidentally slipping other folks thoughts or behind-the-scenes actions in.

    In Gracie I learned a lot about first person and that is why I didn't do it again in my second, third or fourth books I am working on.

    Maybe some day I'll go back, but POV was the biggest issue my editor had me work on in my MS. For the moment, I am definitely going to be a third person POV writer.

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