1st vs 3rd - Sample

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Wilson Geiger, Sep 4, 2012.

  1. Wilson Geiger

    Wilson Geiger Greymane

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    Thought I'd toss this out here, see what you all thought. I'm toying with telling my longer narrative in first-person, but I'm trying both to see how it goes. Be interested to hear which tells the story better, in your opinions. Short section follows in both first- and third-person. Not really anything but a test, so these samples aren't anything to base the actual story off of.

    Thoughts? Suggestions?

    ---​

    Galen Winter had been up for days, so long that he’d lost count. He may have caught a snooze here or there while riding, the steady gait of his horse working with his body like a hypnotic effect, but he hadn’t had real sleep since he’d left town in a rush.

    He stifled yet another yawn, eyes bleary and raw. Galen knew he’d have to stop soon, even if only for a few hours. Hard to hunt in a sorry state like this, he thought. Won’t do me a lick of good to catch it and not even be able to aim straight.

    Galen focused, searching the flat plain for a good place to hole up for the night. He spotted a small stand of trees maybe a mile away to the south, huddled together in the rolling grasslands that made up much of southeast Arizona. Probably only three or four of them, little more than tall shrubs, but as good a spot for a camp as any. He pulled the reins towards the trees.

    “Be good to rest those legs a bit, eh, Jess?” He gave his horse, a tan and white spotted saddle mount, an affectionate pat on the neck. “Right you are, boy; be good for the both of us.”

    Jess’ ears flicked, in agreement or annoyance Galen couldn’t rightly say, and headed towards the small stand.


    ***​

    I’d been up for days; so long, truth be told, that I had no rightly idea what day it was. I knew I’d left Bolister on a Sunday, but riding a horse non-stop with little rest will tend to make the hours blur. And right now everything was blurry, even with the late sun still lighting my way.

    I fought down another yawn, struggled to keep my eyes open. I told myself if I didn’t stop soon, I’d have a hell of a time if I actually caught up to the thing. I didn’t like listening to that side of me, especially when the hunt was on, but the truth is just that. I needed the rest.

    There wasn’t much to go on, lots of plain and lots of grass, but I did spot a small stand of trees about a mile off to the south. Southeast Arizona doesn’t have much in the way of cover, and I couldn’t see much else that would do the trick, so I pulled the reins toward the stand. As good a spot as any out here.

    “Be good to rest those legs a bit, eh, Jess?” I gave Jess a pat on the neck. My horse, a tan and white saddle mount, he wasn’t so much a talker, but I knew what he’d say, given the chance.

    “Right you are, boy; be good for the both of us.”

    His ears flicked, and I couldn’t tell right there if he was just annoyed that I was still talkin’ to him, or if it was agreement. But he headed towards the small tree stand anyway.
     
  2. N. E. White

    N. E. White tmso Staff Member

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    Well, the first person narrative definitely has a lot more character, which I like. But the 3rd person was easier (and quicker) to read through. Funny how reading through the 1st person narrative made me read slower.

    Now, that's with a short sample. Once I got used to the voice, I might read the rest quicker. Not sure. I wonder if that's why I don't like 1st person...

    That's my two cents.
     
  3. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Why are they fundamentally different in text?

    Try this:


    Do you like that better or first? Also, your tense seems to be bouncing around. Not sure if that's what you're planning.
     
  4. PeteMC

    PeteMC @PeteMC666

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    Both read okay to me, but then I quite like first person in general whereas I know a lot of folks don't.

    Keep in mind though that telling a story in first person can be a lot trickier plot-wise, and the longer and more complicated the story is the trickier it gets. I write quite a lot of my short fiction in first person but I don't think I'd want to attempt a novel in it to be honest.
     
  5. Wilson Geiger

    Wilson Geiger Greymane

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    Way to ruin my effort with a better effort, Kat. ;)

    I had it in my head that it had to be one way or the other, but that looks just fine. The tense bounced around only because I thought it made sense from his perspective to talk like that. It was also a very rough sample with little thought but the viewpoint.

    Pete, I totally get that; I really dig first-person too, but I know that a lot of people don't, and if that affects any potential readership, it has to be considered. I've always enjoyed first-person, but tried to stick to third-person when writing, because it seemed most writers used it. Recently I've seen successful authors use first-person, and I decided to at least see if it would work for my stories.
     
  6. PeteMC

    PeteMC @PeteMC666

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    It seems to depend what genre you're aiming at in terms of what the readership will expect.

    Urban Fantasy is quite often in first person (Dresden Files etc) whereas a sprawling epic multi-threaded such as Game of Thrones just can't be done that way.

    The only "heroic fantasy" (for want of a better term for "stuff with swords and knights") I've read recently that was done in first person was Mark Lawrence's Prince of Thorns and Patrick Rothfuss' Name Of The Wind, and even the latter is only mostly in first person.

    I read somewhere that Joe Abercrombie originally wrote The Blade Itself with the Dogman's parts in first person and all the rest of it in third, but not surprisingly his publisher wasn't keen.

    There's also a method where you have each chapter from a different character POV, like GRRM does, but each different POV is written in first person. I'm not sure many people use that these days though, and personally I'm really not a fan.

    I can't call to mind a first person SF since the Stainless Steel Rat, although I'm sure there must have been some.
     
  7. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    First person narrative appeals to me very much, in that character development takes place almost automatically. That much said, however, I rarely use it.

    There's a problem sith "I"-strain. It's somewhat difficult to avoid saying: "I saw this, I saw that. I walked home. I watched the telly..." Take great care to find other subjects for your sentences.

    One of the best examples of first-person narrative used well is Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson. The landscapes, the ship, the secondary characters -- all speak with their own voice. "I" is used very little. If you want a quick copy, it's available all over the internet for free, mostly compliments of Google's Project Gutenberg.

    You can definitely write. Good luck with the project.

    --WB
     
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2012
  8. KatG

    KatG The Bony Hand of Death Staff Member

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    Tis not my effort at all. Tis yours and I just changed the pronouns.

    Why are you trying to make me bang my forehead against my desk?

    Why are you trying to make me bang my forehead against my desk?

    :)
     
  9. PeteMC

    PeteMC @PeteMC666

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    LOL I knew that would wind someone up :D