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July 8th, 2002, 06:12 PM
Which do you write in?

Most of my 'attempts' have been in the third person, which I did automatically, since they were fantasy and most fantasy is in the third person. But now I've tried writing in the first person, and I find it much easier. It has a lot of advantages. Using the stream of conciousness you can work flashbacks, opinions, background knowledge, etc. into the narrative in a very natural way.

So, which do you prefer?

July 8th, 2002, 07:32 PM
I use both. Generally it depends on the story.

I've found that generally first person starts out easier. It's easier to write out the character's thoughts and offer a little bit of commentary on what's going on through the story. The problem is that with most of the stuff I write, I get to a point and realise that it would make a whole lot more sense if told from a different point of view. [Meanwhile, back at autobot headquarters...] Generally third person allows for this.

I don't think there are any hard rules on the issue though.

I also notice that in first person I have a tendency to talk more directly to the reader. For instance I'll allow myself to use "you." In third person this doesn't work so I have a tendency to write more formally.


July 8th, 2002, 09:42 PM
When I was younger I always wrote in first person, but for some reason now I usually only write in third person. There are advantages to both of course, but I think first person is too limiting sometimes, because you can only tell about what the character sees himself. There's little room to see things from someone else's perspective. That's just my opinion though. I suppose it depends on the writer.

July 8th, 2002, 10:33 PM
I like both.

First person, I find, allows you to be a little more free with the narrative. You don't have to remain detached. You can add thoughts and opinions and it's fine. The only problem with first person is the word "I." This needs to be avoided as much as possible, or the narrative will sound redundant.

Third person is usually more formal, but it allows you to flesh out many different characters. And with this style, it's much easier to keep a novel interesting, because whenever it needs a change you can just switch to someone else.

But I also like when the styles are blended. I.e. Whenever the main character is part of the scene, its written in first person. Whever he/she isn't, it's written in third. If done properly, this works great. Some of may favorite books are written in this style (Outlander from Gabaldon, Tell No one and Gone for Good from Coben, to name a few).

But I think it's good, as a writer, to dabble in both POVs, because it will help broaden your style.

July 9th, 2002, 12:27 AM
As a reader I prefer the third ppv becasue it allows you to fully explore the realms of the world where you're reading. Seeing different perspectives about a certain event really helps you to get to know yourself and gain an understanding of others.

As a writer I prefer the first ppv as it offers more to develop a character. Through the structure of the story, bad grammar and the like you can really put your characters mind onto paper. This is why I liked Catcher in the rye and A Clockwork Orange so much as you got a real feel for Holden Caulfield and Alex and what makes them tick.

I have books going at the moment in both perspectives and it should be truly interesting to see how they come out.

July 10th, 2002, 04:50 AM
I think that both first and third person have their advantages.

Whenever I get a story idea, it usually comes in the form of first-person: "Hey, Em, lemme tell you about what happened to me the year I came back to my old school to protect the rich kid from my hometown, and an old enemy of mine had started teaching there..."

(That book might get written in first person, actually, because I think it's going to be very claustrophobic, personal, intense, and subjective).

Most fantasy novels are third-person. Most fantasy novels are not claustrophobic, intense, and subjective; they have quests and subplots, and multiple points of view are the best way to handle a large variety of subplots. Robin Hobb's "Assassin" trilogy is first person, and it works surprisingly well, but it seems to be an exception.

It's much easier to write first-person short stories than first-person novels, because you usually don't want more than one point of view in a 2000-word story anyway. Still, there are other reasons than wanting multiple points of view for wanting to use third person. It seems more objective and gives you a little more distance--which is often a good thing.

Personal experience: I've written two fantasy novels, which both were third-person with multiple points of view, and one first-person short story.

July 10th, 2002, 09:19 AM
I have used both in the stories I've written. I started out using the third person when I was college, but along the way I switched to the first person.

When I am writing, assuming everything is flowing along nicely, the story runs through my mind as more a series of images rather than a stream of words or ideas. Writing in the third person is like remembering a movie I have watched and all I am doing is writing down what I saw in the scenes from the movie. If I want a broader perspective I simply pan my mental camera out for a large scene and describe what I see in my mind's eye. If I want a narrower perspective I zoom in on one or two characters at a time.

Writing in the first person on the other hand is more like describing a memory of something I did or dreamed about doing. The images running through my imagination are in a first person viewpoint. In a way this makes it easier to decribe things my narrator sees and experiences. I find I describe more sensory experiences this way: not just sight and sound, but smell, touch, even taste sometimes. First person also makes writing more challenging - I have to find a way to tell the reader things the narrator may not know using the narrator's point of view. Hard to do without making your narrator look like a blithering idiot!

For what ever reason, I seem to write better in the first person than in the third person.

July 11th, 2002, 01:00 AM
Here's an additional question that you people could ponder on, one which came to me while I was reading your posts:

What does it say about you as a writer, if you prefer one style over another? For example, if you prefer (or it's easier) to write 1st person, does that mean you're more of a stream-of-consciousness writer wherein you let the narrator be both the protagonist AND the storyteller?

Or rather, an aloof writer, wherein you let the narrator stand from a distance from the story (as objectively as possible) in a 3rd person narrative?

I know some of you have mentioned using both methods but which would you prefer?

July 11th, 2002, 02:09 AM
Even in 3rd person, thoughts can come through, just not as direct as 1st person.

In my novel, I used 3rd person, with direct thoughts in italics (1st person) sprinkled around. No one has said anything bad of this technique yet, so I'm confident it works to good effect.

July 11th, 2002, 03:42 AM
Originally posted by milamber_reborn
Even in 3rd person, thoughts can come through, just not as direct as 1st person.

In my novel, I used 3rd person, with direct thoughts in italics (1st person) sprinkled around. No one has said anything bad of this technique yet, so I'm confident it works to good effect.

I know MR. However, in 1st person writing, the narration comes across as the reader "riding" on the protagonist's shoulder, knowing what the protag is doing, thinking, and feeling (but not the other characters). It's a more personal approach.

In 3rd person, the narration is a device that allows the reader to know the thoughts and actions of all the characters but only from a 'distance', like watching TV or movie but you (as the reader/ viewer) getting the bonus of knowing the all the characters thoughts and feelings too.

Hmmm... of course there's also the difference between the 3rd person limited and 3rd person omniscient. However, the aforementioned 'distance' in the 3rd person narration is still a big factor. Like you said, it's not direct.