Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Should I Write My Book in First Person or Third Person?

My Sister's Keeper
First Person: I, me, my
Third Person: They, she, he

Maybe you are ready to start writing your novel, or you already have a completed fiction manuscript in hand. 

Either way, you'll have to decide which perspective is most engaging for your story -- first person or third person?

If it's coming from your head, but it's not about you, then you're probably writing in third person. Third person is very common. It's natural.

But like every writer, you must question every nook and cranny of what you are writing. {Writers are such fussy people.}

Writer Kris Cramer writes about First Person vs Third Person (and everything in between) in a great post {in a very non fussy way to boot}.

Here are just a few things that came to my mind when comparing the two:

First Person Pro:
readers really get to know the inside of the main character's head

First Person Con:
the story misses out on some possibly key play by play because the main character has to be present to witness it or figure out that it happened

Third Person Pro:
readers get a broad scope of all the characters from a subjective point of view

Third Person Con:
it can be harder for writers to develop so many characters or they may focus too much on descriptions rather than getting into characters' heads

So really, it comes down to your story. Which point of view will best bring across what you are trying to say? Which point of view is better for your reader?

*Is the story mostly about one character? Is getting into his mind important? Stick with First Person.

*What if you have a big plot with lots of players? Third Person might be a better choice.

Homework Assignment: Write a chapter in First Person. Then take the same chapter and write it in Third Person. Which one has bigger impact?

If you STILL can't decide, there are even other options. Jodi Picoult wrote My Sister's Keeper with each chapter in a different point of view -- each character takes turns telling "their side" of the story in First Person. It was a unique experience. For that particular book, I thought it worked wonders. Each chapter was a fresh new look into the story. Be careful if this interests you, though. Writing this way is definitely not for amateurs; it must be done right if done at all.

Discussion: What pros and cons of First Person and Third Person do you see?

1 comment:

  1. I was happy to find your blog.. thanks a lot with this great ideas and information you have shared here.. it helps me a lot..