What’s Your Point of View?

May 18, 2010 at 6:52 am (Character, Death's Daughter, Thoughts on Writing, Voice) (, , , , , , , , , )


After finishing Death’s Daughter I wrote a post over on my old blog about the difficulties of writing in first person.  I made the decision at the time that I wouldn’t be using first person for the next few projects because I found it limiting in that I could only tell the story from one person’s point of view and if that person didn’t know something critical than the reader couldn’t be told that critical bit of information.

I’ve since written two complete works in third person.  One is a train wreck that I will eventually edit and rewrite and work into something usable.  I blame the protagonist, she stepped outside the action one too many times and was out-shone by the entire rest of the cast. Shame really because the concept and the world work really well and the use of third person allowed for such a broad exploration (which might be how my protagonist got lost).

The other was a less ambitious piece as it was aimed at young adults and follows the narrator essentially sits on the shoulder of the main character for most of the story with a few minor deviations. This piece has been polished, to a point, but I’m not sure what to do with at the moment. It should be the start of a series but I’m not really ready to write the next installment and I don’t know that I will be any time soon, so it is cooling its heels while I think it through.

Now I’m starting a third project and it is also in third person. I think it is time to reflect on my choice.

I still love first person. I love being inside a character’s head and feeling what they feel, learning as they learn. As a reader I enjoy it and as a writer I find it immensely satisfying. For character development.

As far as constructing a plot, I find third person much easier to work with and it provides me with more opportunities and avenues to persue. And you can still construct very interesting characters and show their feelings and reactions, though at a slight distance.

I like both. I think I might try my next project in first person again because it has been awhile but I really am enjoying writing in third person as well.

What point of view do you use?

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25 Comments

  1. janettedalgliesh said,

    I love first person but I have a couple of projects in third person where I get the chance to change POV.

    I like the challenge of enabling the audience to understand everything that’s going on, even when I can only tell the story from the main character’s viewpoint. Kinda adds to the fun!

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think I agree with you. It is a challenge but sometimes well worth it. Thanks for your comment.

  2. AlexJ said,

    First person is very challenging. I’m much more comfortable writing in third person.

  3. laurelrainsnow said,

    I usually use third person narration, but I have written a few short stories in the first person voice. It worked in those cases, because those were stories about one person’s struggles (like with addiction), and her perspective was crucial.

    I’ve seen books where first person takes over part of the story, with third person in alternate chapters. Sometimes it works, while other times it can be confusing. I haven’t tried this particular technique yet.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I don’t know that I like stories that switch between first and third person. I’ve read books where the narration swaps between characters but it has stayed in first person. Thanks for the comment.

  4. tamasolusi said,

    Nice post…thanks

  5. Alex Willging said,

    Third-person tends to work for me in most stories, but I’ll sometimes use first-person if it’s for a viewpoint character who isn’t necessarily the main character.

  6. Nikole Hahn said,

    Third most of the time, but once in a while for short stories, I will play with first. I like third because, as you say, I get to sit on the shoulder of my character POVs and get into their heads and emotions. It’s like being a fly on the wall.

  7. JR Mackenzie said,

    My finished product is in third person and I like it. Recently, just because everyone is always talking about first person, I tried to write in it and discovered an (almost) physically discomfort that I wanted to escape! I even tried an entirely different type of novel–different genre for different POV. But, didn’t care for its limitations.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      There are a few limitations but I love being inside the characters head. I guess it depends what you’re trying to achieve with the story. Thanks for the comment.

  8. Lynn Rush said,

    I LOVE writing in first person. I have a few novels in that POV, but more in third person. I’m thinking my next one will go back to first person. I love how deep it takes you. it’s a challenge! Especially writing a man’s POV (since I’m a chick)….that was fun.

    Great post.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think I’m definitely ready to get back to first person. I’m going to finish my current WIP and then think about it.

  9. Jemi Fraser said,

    I prefer 3rd person. I find 1st a little too limited for me. I also like to use 2 povs if I’m writing something with a romantic element – I like to hear from both the male and female MCs. So, it’s gotta be 3rd.

  10. JackieS said,

    I use both first and third – first for the main character and third for the others. I don’t think that adheres to the rules of writing too much but I find it gives a nice balance. Besides, if James Patterson can do it why can’t I?

  11. Carol J. Garvin said,

    I’ve used both first and third in different novels. Third is easier for me, but first is much more satisfying. However, in choosing which to use a lot depends on who my protagonist is — what style of writing suits the character’s personality and also suits the genre.

  12. Lua said,

    I have issues with third person POV that I seriously need to work on… I never really loved reading in 3re person as much as I did reading in first person so naturally when I started writing, almost everything I write was in first person. My creative writing teacher had to do an intervention and persuaded me to write some short stories in third person but to be honest, I did not enjoy writing in 3rd thus the stories weren’t very good. I just finished writing my first novel which was told in first person (shocker) and I’m about to begin writing my second and I’m afraid that’s going to be in first person also… But I did promise myself; third book, third person! 🙂

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I think a lot of our preference comes from what we read. I tend to read a lot of books written in first person so I’m very comfortable with it. Thanks for visiting.

  13. Kyle said,

    For some reason, I have always like Third person, but I have been starting to rethink that. I think that the main and biggest advantage for staying in first person point of view is that you don’t have to worry about describing things as they actually happen, but only as the character is seeing and understanding things. Even though staying out of someone’s head can keep things more of a mystery, having the main character interpret an event incorrectly can keep the mystery just as well.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      I do like that you can be misleading as long as it is staying true to the character telling the story. Though this can sometimes be annoying if it is obvious what is actually happening. Thanks for the comment.

  14. lunaleo said,

    I used to only read third person POV books–I couldn’t stand first person. Then I read the first “Black Company” book by Glen Cook and it gave me a whole different perspective on what a writer could do with first person, and now in my own writing I almost always use first person.

    I think unreliable narrators are extremely interesting (like Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Tell-Tale Heart”), and it’s easiest to achieve this effect if you’re directly in the main character’s mind, seeing what they think they’re seeing. On the other hand, as you mentioned, this also limits you as a writer, and on my next work I’m having trouble deciding what POV to use as well. I want to use first person, but it’s a middle grade novel, and I can’t think of any MG novels not written in third person.

    As an interesting side note, I read somewhere that Suzanne Collins wrote the first thirty pages of “Hunger Games” in both first person and third person before deciding which one she liked better. Maybe that’s the way to do it, and just feel each one out before making a decision.

    • Cassandra Jade said,

      Sometimes I have to agree. I’ll start a project using one POV and then realise that the POV is getting in the way of my telling the story. Thanks for the comment.

  15. Barb said,

    Personally, I’ve always hated first person, for its limits. Then I discovered third person has also many levels. I’ve used the third-omniscient for over 25 years until I learned that “head-hopping” was not OK and that there are more 3rd person POVs: the third person limited or body-centered writing, which is a sort of 1st person written in 3rd, i.e. you’re in the head of one character at the time. Of course you can have more than one POV character at this point, therefore you can explore more the story… still staying in your characters’ heads! 😀

  16. Andrew jack said,

    I still love first person but once this project is done I’m going to try a third person book too.

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