First or Third Person?

Writing can be rought especially when you aren’t sure about the best route to portray the story. I’m talking about whether you wish to choose first person, third limited, third omniscent, or event second person. There are cases when you may decide which you want by simply knowing. There is no doubt in your mind how it needs to be told. The words just come and the the narration style just comes. That isn’t quite clear for everyone though and it requires more thought when it comes to making a final decision.

<h3>First Person</h3>
Like any style, there are both advantages and disadvantages. The main disadvantage to first person is that the perspective of the world is limited to the character whose head you are in. That could potentially feel rather stifling if it isn’t done well. Also by not being able to see the world in a broader sense, the perspective is automatically less trustworthy. This is mainly because if your character doesn’t see it, it didn’t happen to them, yet that may not actually be the case. Which can be an advantage depending on the story you are trying to tell. The narrow viewpoint can work to your advantage if things are meant to be kept secret from the reader and the character. First person is like you filming everything. You will only catch what you think to catch. Anything that you aren’t looking at is omitted. it is entirely your perspective.

<h3>Third Person Limited</h3>
This is very similar to first person but with a little more wiggle room. Both are limited to what the character knows. However, while a first person story can only show you what the character sees and is based on their knowledge, third person opens things up. Something near a character can be noted, but not fully explained. A Third limited view is kind of like having a film crew walk behind you and follow your every move. This means that they are limited to where the character is and what they can potentially see. Third Limited is still not very reliable as you are still only getting a portion of the whole story.

<h3>Third Person Omniscent</h3>
It is the all knowing eye. They see anything and everything, thus can make a much more thorough depiction of events. With everything see a reader gets all sides. They can see the characters more clearly. However, this creates the most distance from the reader. It is almost as though you are telling a person a story, rather than immersing them in it by putting them in the characters shoes. If it was a camera it would be like a fly in the wall or a camera in the sky. With omniscent, the narration knows everything and sees everything.

<h3>Second Person</h3>
It is like telling someone what they are going to do. Second person is hard to pull off and engage someone. Despite it’s nature of naturally immersing you directly as the role of the MC, it can very distancing. This is because as the author you are essentially claiming that you know what the reader is going to do and how it will play out. While this isn’t very popular with novels and stories, it is very popular in video games. Most commonly it is seen in a form as the RPG.

How do you like to write or read?

One thought on “First or Third Person?

  1. I don’t think I have a preference when reading, but I love writing in first person. You can get around the “locked into one view point” problem by changing between characters when you change chapters (NEVER within a chapter – confusing!). To pull this off you have to be sure each character has a very strong and distinct voice, but it’s a great way to let readers get that personable sense of first person while still having the flexibility of third person.

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