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Archive - General > First person, third person or multi-viewpoint

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message 1: by R.G. (new)

R.G. Belsky | 51 comments Do you have a preference? I'm a first person guy, both as an author and what I like to read. But there are advantages and disadvantages to all three. I've written books in each viewpoint - but everything I've had published is in 1st person. Which may be why I prefer it!


message 2: by David (new)

David Freas (quillracer) | 2220 comments I write mostly in first person, too. It really lets me get into the main character's head.

But I've written third person multi-POV things as well and in some ways they're better because the reader gets to see every character's thoughts and feelings instead of getting them filtered through the MC's POV.


message 3: by Donald (new)

Donald Scott (writeondon) | 87 comments Funny, this post made me realize I am currently reading two different mystery novels, one of which is in first person and the other in third - and both work fine, but there IS an immediacy in the first-person one that's not in the other. As a writer I prefer first-person, as Quillracer said it puts you right into the head of the protagonist (although it can be so limiting, in a mystery/suspense story, especially). Don't normally like multi-POV unless it's divided by chapter named by the character that chapter's focused on - but then, that's going back to first- or third-person, anyway.


message 4: by R.G. (new)

R.G. Belsky | 51 comments I agree. First person always seems more powerful and personal to me whether writing or reading a book. The advantage of multi-viewpoint is you can reveal/hide things in a mystery so that the main character doesn't know everything that's happening.


message 5: by R.G. (new)

R.G. Belsky | 51 comments One quick story on this topic. I once discussed it with Michael Connelly, whose Harry Bosch character is written in the third person. To me, it would have been logical to write him in the first person like a Marlowe or Spenser. I asked Connelly why he decided to write him in the third person. "I don't know," he basically said. "I never really thought about it." He just went with his instincts for the book and the character, which is probably why he's so successful.


message 6: by Roland (new)

Roland Nuñez | 8 comments I wrote a book series that is a mix of all of the above. The first chapter is first-person from the protagonist's point of view, the second is in an interview format, so you get dialogue from the protagonist and the person being interviewed, and then the third chapter is a 3rd person view that follows around different people throughout the chapter. Chapter 4 then repeats the cycle again for the rest of the book.

It takes some getting used to at first (at least, that's why my readers have told me), but it remains consistent throughout the whole series, so people gets used to it. It's really challenging to do, but it allows me to tell the same story from both the protagonist's perspective as well as everyone else's.


message 7: by David (new)

David Freas (quillracer) | 2220 comments The most annoying book I ever read was one written from multiple characters POV but each one done in first person.

Even though ever chapter was titled with the POV character's name, it was still disorienting.


message 8: by R.G. (new)

R.G. Belsky | 51 comments Then there's also the rarely used second person POV. Bright Lights, Big City is the one example that comes to mind. "You are not the kind of guy who would be at a place like this at this time of the morning. But here you are..." etc.


message 9: by R.G. (new)

R.G. Belsky | 51 comments That does sound really unusual, Roland. Not sure I've ever seen anything like that. But if it works, then it's all good..


message 10: by R.G. (last edited Jul 28, 2014 01:07PM) (new)

R.G. Belsky | 51 comments Multiple characters POV done in one person does sound damn annoying. I have also found it annoying when a book is in one POV for most of it, then the author without warning switches to third person or multiple POV briefly to make a point in a chapter. To me, the book should be consistent throughout with whatever POV you decide on


Saving People, Hunting Things~ The Family Business I prefer to read books in third person. It gives me the benefit of multiple perspectives of the same events and makes it more interesting when trying to figure out the reason behind them.


message 12: by Donald (new)

Donald Scott (writeondon) | 87 comments Quillracer wrote: "The most annoying book I ever read was one written from multiple characters POV but each one done in first person.

Even though ever chapter was titled with the POV character's name, it was still d..."


Really? Sorry to hear. Have never had a problem with that, long as each character's voice rang differently. Just finished Terry McMillan's 'Who Asked You?' recently, the whole book is like that and I had no problem because each character's voice was distinct. If THAT'S not working, I can totally see where it'd be disorienting as heck!


message 13: by R.G. (new)

R.G. Belsky | 51 comments There's always the unusual exception to the rule. Gillian Flynn's massive selling Gone Girl is written through two 1st person viewpoints. Each telling their own story. It works....but you can only pull this sort of thing off rarely.


message 14: by Feliks (last edited Aug 05, 2014 10:02AM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) There was a decent-sized Goodreads debate about this once, in one of my groups. Let's see if I can dig it up.

...yes! Here it is:
https://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/...


message 15: by R.G. (new)

R.G. Belsky | 51 comments Thanks, Feliks. It's something I think about a lot when I start to write a book. In the end, I generally wind up in first person because that's what I'm comfortable with - both writing and reading. But I do understand its limitations and the advantages from 3rd and multiple POVs


message 16: by R.G. (new)

R.G. Belsky | 51 comments Me too, Theresa


message 17: by Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (last edited Oct 16, 2015 06:06AM) (new)

Erin *Proud Book Hoarder* (erinpaperbackstash) I prefer first person, always have, even if this is less popular with publishers unless it's by genre. I think it works well in mysteries too, as it can lead more of mystery feel not being in other people's heads.

That said, I just enjoy a well-written book, no matter the POV used. I read plenty of third-person too

Benefit of third is you can get more perspectives, while first person can make the character feel more alive/personal since you're solely in their head

With third person you can get a larger story and more angles on it, which works great for sagas and fantasy. First person works well for keeping mystery, tension, suspense strong since so much is held back from the reader along with the character.


message 18: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Amato (authorcarmenamato) | 23 comments It depends on the author. Robert B. Parker's Spenser my series work perfectly well in first person. But I love Ken Follett's early thrillers with multiple POVs. The Key to Rebecca is still my choice for greatest thriller ever written.


message 19: by Kirsten (new)

Kirsten  (kmcripn) I agree, it depends. There was a time I absolutely refused to read any first person books and it was due to Agatha Christie. I read one of her mysteries and the murderer turned out to be the narrator! It took me years to get over that.


message 20: by VickiLee (last edited Sep 07, 2014 05:37PM) (new)

VickiLee | 251 comments For all of my years as a reader (and it is getting to be quite a few these days!) I had never considered which point of view I preferred when reading a novel. If the novel was well-written, captivating, or otherwise compelling, I liked it. If not, I tossed the book aside. Now, after reading all of your comments, I realize that some problems with novels I did not like was because of the point of view used in the novel. I don't believe I prefer one style over the other, but I do know I whatever POV is used must be effective and engaging.


message 21: by R. (new)

R. Marquez I've read and enjoyed novels with various POVs. I believe that the writer should pick the one that enhances the story the best. A skilled writer can make any of them work.


message 22: by Helena (new)

Helena Greenfield | 61 comments I honestly can enjoy all 3 depending on whether the author pulls it off or not. If I had to have a favourite I'd say 3rd person and as least fav multi-person. But like I said I can like any of them as long as it's well written.


message 23: by David (new)

David Penny | 10 comments I'm with VickiLee on this - I don't really care if it's first or third person, it's the book that counts. Having said that I am not a fan of second-person and will generally not even consider anything written that way.

I've just started Belinda Bauer's Rubbernecker and that's a mix of first and third person, but is working for me so far.

I'm sure that Harlan Coben also mixed first and third person in his Myron Bollitar books as well, and I loved every single one of those.

And noticed that Lee Child sometimes writes his Jack Reacher books in first and other times in third, although he does not mix them within the same book. I do notice that they are different, but each is as enjoyable as the others.


Maggie the Muskoka Library Mouse (mcurry1990) I totally believe it depends on the story material and the way the author writes.


message 25: by Betsy (last edited Sep 08, 2015 10:09AM) (new)

Betsy | 9144 comments Third person all the way, except for a few special books such as DAS BOOT.


message 26: by Betsy (new)

Betsy | 9144 comments I feel the same about present tense, however, one of my favorite mystery series is written in present tense so I put up with it sometimes.


message 27: by Olivia "So many books--so little time."" (last edited Sep 12, 2015 09:09AM) (new)

Olivia "So many books--so little time."" | 679 comments I enjoy both first and third person. It depends on the story. Some plots are best written in first person and others better in third.


message 28: by Lynn (new)

Lynn | 92 comments I, too have no preference, as long as the choices make sense. I get the feeling, though, that currently, first person is the trend, especially in mysteries.


message 29: by Mara (new)

Mara Pemberton (marapem) | 1477 comments I prefer 3rd person. But I really don't care as long as the book is good.


message 30: by Kim (new)

Kim (kimgm) | 3 comments I have no preference. As long as the story is compelling, it doesn't matter to me with point of view is used.


message 31: by Pamela (new)

Pamela (PamelaStAbbs) | 18 comments With third person narration there can be almost too many choices for telling the story but the first person I find too limiting.


message 32: by Jesse (new)

Jesse Broussard I wouldn't say I have a preference, but I always find it interesting to read multi-viewpoint books. I think it is interesting to read about the same situation from more than one character's perspective.


message 33: by Victoria (new)

Victoria | 8 comments I'm fine with first, third, and multiple viewpoints.

I tend to stick to one viewpoint when writing, but use fist or third depending on the story. Although, with shorter works I keep to first to build a quicker connection with the reader.


message 34: by Janet (new)

Janet Stokes | 485 comments I like reading books written in both first person only and close third person only. You can effectively follow up to 2 people in the first person, like on Gone Girl, without it getting distracting. In the third person you can follow up to 3 main characters with possibly 2 minor characters here and there without the book getting distracting or confusing.

Don't like it when they use the first person and the third person in the same book. It is jarring.


message 35: by Marion (new)

Marion Mlodynia | 573 comments I do NOT like books written in the first person. The ONLY ONES that I will read are those written by Linda Castillo. Her books are a perfect blend of mystery, murder, and romance. Great stories. I've read all her books and am waiting for her next one.


message 36: by M.A.R. (new)

M.A.R. Unger | 127 comments When I write, I use third person. I'll transition to another character after a chapter break or after a clear time break and make it clear from the outset who's POV takes over. First person is often popular with younger readers or people who use social media "the me media." Biographies are best as first person, in my opinion.


message 37: by Janet (new)

Janet Stokes | 485 comments Gone Girl is a top notch book written in the first person, with 2 alternating POVs.


message 38: by Sam (new)

Sam Waas | 3 comments Both voices are fine. It depends.

My private eye novels are all 1st person narrative. I'm aware of the difficulties of this voice because only my protagonist is able to "see" the world and you the reader must look thru his eyes. However, one side benefit of this is that a plot reveal or plot surprise comes to you just at the same time he learns it.

The difficulty of this is engaging the reader with various perspectives. This is of course done by creating vibrant characters and having them appear clear and sharp to the reader, and writing good dialogue where each character speaks and thinks in a unique way and appears realistic.

Right now I'm writing a new supernatural horror novel, totally different genre and this is 3rd person. I'm not having any real trouble writing this way, however. It's just a viewpoint.

As a writer you gain experience and become capable and hopefully proficient in either voice.


message 39: by Marion (new)

Marion Mlodynia | 573 comments I'm sorry but I really don't like books written in the First Person.


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