View Full Version : The different persons
July 20th, 2006, 01:46 PM
I'm having trouble deciding which is the best person to write my story in. So i ask your opinion, which of the three persons is your favourite?
July 20th, 2006, 03:26 PM
I prefer 3rd person because it offers an infinitely wide plot, as you can write from many different POVs, and it's great for writing action.
I like 1st person almost as much, but I find it isn't good for my plots, as you can assume that the narrator has survived. For me, that lifts some of the tension. (Of course, it could be written as a diary, or it could be written in the present tense.) Also, it sometimes feel awkward, at least for me, when I write battle scenes.
I've never read—nor have I written—2nd person. I have absolutely no interest in it, whatsoever.
July 20th, 2006, 05:49 PM
When you say 3rd person do you mean omni or limited?
I think using 3rd person omni is a lot like 1st person except you get to use more pronouns than just I when referring to the main character.
3rd person Omni is great because you get to mention details that the character might not know or notice but would be important for the reader to know.
Ether way, 3rd Person is my favorite.
I have read 2nd person books by way of Choose Your Own Adventure books. They don't really compare to most of the books I read but they're not all bad.
July 20th, 2006, 11:17 PM
At the last writer's meeting I went to (Over 6 months ago! Eep!) someone joked about writing a whole novel in 2nd person. After that, I gave it some thought and toyed with some ideas. None of them panned out. There's a reason nobody (except Choose Your Own Adventure type stories) does it.
As to my personal favorite, 3rd. I don't like narraratives. I just don't. Don't know why.
July 21st, 2006, 05:51 AM
There's a reason nobody (except Choose Your Own Adventure type stories) does it.
Italo Calvino did a pretty good job. VanderMeer pulled off half a book in 2nd as well.
First person is probably the easiest to write in, there's something comfortable in sitting yourself inside the narrators head and just writing them. Third person is more common, and omniscient gives you a lot of flexibility in your writing. The compromise between those two is third limited--you still sit the story firmly in the narrating characters head, but you distance yourself from the character by use of the third person, so that the effect is of an observer outside the action viewing it through that character.
In essence that is where the decision should come from: how you want the reader to relate to the character and story presented.
First person is complete immersion, the reader is dropped into the character, into their life. There's no distancing themselves from what the character feels.
Second is the most difficult, and often rejected by te reader, because it attempts to project the story outward onto the person reading it, and this can, if not handled carefully, cripple the suspension of disbelief.
Third limited is, as I said above, the state of an observer, taking a back seat in the head of a character, and able to watch the action from a more comfortable distance.
Third omni is the ultimate outside observer - the reader sits outside the story entirely, and watches all of it play out with an objective view. It gives the most complete picture of events, but is the most removed from the story.
Personally, I like first and third-limited narratives, because I'm most interested in characters in a story, in what goes on inside their heads.
July 21st, 2006, 08:57 AM
I tend to use 3rd person unless I have a reason to use something else. 1st and 2nd can be used for effect, sometimes quite well. I've experimented with it but I'm not one of those great writers who can do anything.
I use a type of third person where I center the narrative around a character, following them, what they think, what they see, but I can also mention details they may not be aware of. When I jump to another character I usually put in a break.
If a story is mostly dialogue, what person would that be?
July 21st, 2006, 09:56 AM
If you want to check out a very good novel written entirely in second person, read Stewart O'Nan's "A Prayer for the Dying." (Warning: it's not an sff novel and it's rather grim.)
That being said, second person is the rarest of the bunch. The main three are third person omniscient format, third person limited format, and first person format. Then there are mixed formats -- stories that have different sections in different formats, and some fancier formats like revolving first person and first person semi-omniscient, and such.
In SFF and horror, the most popular viewpoint format is third person omniscient, which lets writers set things up in a wide variety of forms. Next, you'd probably have to rank third person limited, with first person coming in last, but still very available (it's pretty popular in supernatural fantasy, I suspect.) I like to read all types of formats, but in writing I tend not to do third person omniscient, for some reason. The stories I think up just don't seem to need it.
But all of the three major formats and the other kinds as well have their strong points. Consider what sort of story you are doing and how you are structuring it, how many internal character viewpoints/voices you want flavoring the story or are needed to tell the story, how you want to communicate information in the story to the reader, and whether there is information you need to provide that can't really be delivered through any character's viewpoint (in which case, third person omniscient is your man.)
Or whether you want to limit information very tightly, which means third person limited or first person might be of use to you. First person format, for instance, is quite popular in mystery fiction, because it allows the author to limit the perspective to the detective character's viewpoint and readers know only what that character discovers and experiences. So if you are doing a sf or fantasy mystery story, first person may (or may not) be a good choice for you.
July 21st, 2006, 11:41 PM
You are a writer. You go into your room. You sit down at your desk, contempating the job ahead of you. You have been given the task of writing in the 2nd person. You try a line or two, and it seems all right at first; but then you try to write an action scene, and the whole thing comes to a grinding halt. You crumple the paper. You pull your hair. You scream in frustration. Then, chopping up your desk for firewood, you swear an oath to the fell gods of authorship that you will never attempt to write in 2nd person again.
Yeah, 2nd person doesn't work too well. To me it's always sounded like you're being told what to do - "You do this" and "You do that". It's like the story puts you in puppet strings and jerks you around.
July 22nd, 2006, 10:36 AM
Wow, 3rd person is winning unanimously.
July 22nd, 2006, 05:52 PM
2nd person can work brilliantly, it's just not going to do so for all readers. It's a person format that we're quite used to because we use it in non-fiction writing, but it is a little harder for readers to process in fiction. It builds a different sort of bond between reader and viewpoint character than first or third person, and gives the narrative a different, very intense rhythm.
But realistically, it's not a format that even writers who use it are going to use regularly. So having it in the poll is maybe unnecessary. Third person omniscient, third person limited and straight first person are the big three.
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