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First person, or third?

 
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Ares
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 12:24 am    Post subject: First person, or third? Reply with quote

Hi guys,
I have a question to ask and thought that maybe this was the place to do so, being a writers' workshop and all.

I have a preference when reading fiction, that it is written in the first person. I know that most books are written in 3rd. Which doesn't stop me from reading 3rd person, not at all. What is your preference, do you have any, and do you think that a book written in first person would sell as well, or not?

Do you think that writers find it difficult to write in first person? Do any of you find that so?

What do you think?

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ljgould
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 25, 2007 5:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it depends on the story that the author is trying to tell. In general, third person may be more useful when the author is trying to tell a story that requires that the reader know the thoughts of several characters. On the other hand, if the author is only interested in the point of view of one character, then first person is the way to go.

I don't have a preference in reading one or the other. I just read. *g*
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Dark Star
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 26, 2007 11:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For myself, I prefer to read, and write third person. I have no real desire to write it myself, but having said that, if the story calls for it, that's what I would write. Or try to… I've read a lot of really bad first person.
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Ares
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 6:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ljgould said,

Quote:
I think it depends on the story that the author is trying to tell.


Well, that's true, I never really thought about it like that. *g*

DS wrote;

Quote:
For myself, I prefer to read, and write third person. I have no real desire to write it myself, but having said that, if the story calls for it, that's what I would write. Or try to… I've read a lot of really bad first person.


Is it because first person is harder to write? Maybe that is why there is a lot of bad first person out there?

LJgould said,

Quote:
I don't have a preference in reading one or the other. I just read. *g*

Well...there's that! Wink

Thanks guys for sharing your thoughts. The matter came up in conversation one day, and I thought, why not ask other writers?

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Mike
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 27, 2007 6:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't know if it affects the sales of a book as such, but I do find that third-person narratives which show both sides of the story for opposing characters or groups (like showing you what both the hero and the bad guy are up to, so to speak) make it hard to properly identify with one side or the other...
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Ares
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey Useless - scratch that - Useful Git, Cool

Quote:
I don't know if it affects the sales of a book as such, but I do find that third-person narratives which show both sides of the story for opposing characters or groups (like showing you what both the hero and the bad guy are up to, so to speak) make it hard to properly identify with one side or the other...


That is why I prefer reading first person so we and that character have to nut it out ourselves.

Having said that, third person doesn't have to show the others' thoughts - in particular the main protaganist's - and therefore not ruin the plot for us, but third person can show us scenes away from where our hero is and not necessarily give things away. Like in building up several characters stories and actions to evolve the main storyline.

I never realised until thinking about this how much benefit there is to third person.

I am reading a series of books at present. The first book has 7 main characters, and we get to see each person's story from third person, in the present, and from their point of view or another's point of view for a past event.

In the second book of the series, the 7 main characters are there but the author introduces a new character - the hero - and he is always in first person. I find that I am enjoying his segments more than the others.

Am I alone in this? Am I strange? Confused
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Mike
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 28, 2007 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do tend to prefer first-person stories just for the sense of understanding the character that you get, but it can be limited from a storytelling perspective.

I once read a book (which I think was by Philip K Dick, but it was a long time ago) which was written in the first person, but unusually so. You follow the main character for about half of the book, and naturally assume that the entire book is written like that, but then that section ends, and then there is another section, which continues the story but from another character's POV, also in first person. Later in the book we switch back to the main character again.

Personally, I felt that that approach lessened my enjoyment of the book, as it severed my sense of closeness with the main character and reminded me that I was reading a book, if you know what I mean. It was probably supposed to be a clever literary device, but I felt that it threw me out of the story and it was disappointing.

Moral of the story: don't write third-person-style narrative in first-person perspective. Razz

EDIT: Just looked it up, apparently it was Radio Free Albemuth by Philip K Dick. Smile
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Ares
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 28, 2007 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry I am so late at replying to this, Mike, I know you have been busy, and I've been away, but that is no excuse.
Embarassed

You said this about first person POV and then the author switched to another character's first person POV,

Quote:
Personally, I felt that that approach lessened my enjoyment of the book, as it severed my sense of closeness with the main character and reminded me that I was reading a book, if you know what I mean. It was probably supposed to be a clever literary device, but I felt that it threw me out of the story and it was disappointing.


I totally agree with this. I identify with the character b/c of his/her POV and then we get another? Remind me never to do that, please?
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