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First vs. Third Person...

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message 2: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1734 comments Interesting, yes. I'd heard that a lot of agents and editors were biased against first-person stories, but I never knew why.

As for the three examples (formal third person, first person, close third person), I honestly don't feel any difference between the formal and close thirds, and very little difference between either of them and the first person version. I tend to write what I guess would be a hybrid third person, using names as necessary to make sure there is no confusion as to who is talking, but using pronouns as much as possible. I also leave off attributions as much as I can.

I achieve "closeness" by picking a clear POV character for each scene and getting into their head as quickly and as strongly as possible. Indeed, that's one of the strengths of the third person narrative. You can switch POVs from time to time to get inside different characters' heads. With most first-person narratives, you're stuck in the protagonist's head for the whole story.


message 3: by Theodore (last edited Aug 10, 2018 07:00AM) (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1419 comments Dale wrote: "Interesting, yes. I'd heard that a lot of agents and editors were biased against first-person stories, but I never knew why.

As for the three examples (formal third person, first person, close th..."


I agree with you about the strength that comes with the ability to switch POV. As for first-person narratives, I tend to find them sing-song and the equivalent of selfies.

I do wonder a bit about the author's switching POV in his third-person examples, though. Take the sentence:

Raye didn’t quite get it and (sic) first and then she did and smiled.

How did the observer know? Strictly speaking, for the omniscient, all-knowing observer, the sentence should have read:

Raye didn't appear to quite get it at first, and then, she smiled.

I know...picky, picky, picky.

Or this sentence:

Again, Raye didn’t get it at first, and then she realized he must have been at the meeting she’d first gotten up and spoken at.

Quite a switch in that one! Again, this was supposed to be a third-person example.

Better:

Again, it seemed Raye didn't get it at first, but then, it appeared she realized he must have been at the meeting where she’d first gotten up and spoken.

Most readers today wouldn't even catch these, but an agent/editor at a legacy publisher would bounce these manuscripts like a rubber ball.

Whether first of third person, anyone who doesn't use an editor puts themselves at a distinct disadvantage if they have any thoughts whatsoever about reaching out to an agent.


message 4: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1734 comments I think Raye was the POV character in all versions. If so, it would be okay to say she didn't get it, because we're in her head. (And so forth.) But given that we only had snippets, it's hard to say.

But yeah, some of those sentences needed help. ;-)


message 5: by P.D.R. (new)

P.D.R. Lindsay (pdrlindsay) | 84 comments Bad writing is - surely - bad writing in any POV. As Indies we are free to experiment to do what we feel is right for the story.
AND
A lot of readers love 1st, especially in 'exciting' stories where they are so close to the action! I think of the late Dick Francis who sold millions of copies of his racing thrillers and usually used 1st POV.


message 6: by D.J. (new)

D.J. Cooper | 1028 comments Meh...

I’d never written in the first person until my third novel. In all honesty, I don’t have a preference when I’m reading except that I hate first person present tense with a vengeance. It jars and takes ages to ‘feel’ right when I’m reading it. They read like a 1980s text computer game that isn’t quite right but that’s just me.

Some of the most memorable trad books I’ve read were written in first person. They are in the minority. However, I’m not university educated and don’t read anything high-brow. I probably therefore don’t know any better. At least that’s how I feel when I read things about ‘proper’ authors and people talking about ‘the rules’. I’m the person who ignores what the film critics say because I don’t watch their kinds of films. I’m the same with books. I don’t think I’m in the same league as people who worry what publishers think about their work. If the story is told well, it’s told well. If someone is blinkered because something is unusual, so be it. It comes down to whether you’re prepared to play the game or you decide to write how you feel you should. The chances of being picked up by an agent or publisher are so damn small anyway... meh.


message 7: by P.D.R. (new)

P.D.R. Lindsay (pdrlindsay) | 84 comments For me characters come first and they tell me how to write the book. Tizzie had to be third - so I could write her story or it would be too painful. Bryce was angry and the reader had to feel it in 1st. Jacob came across as cocky and unpleasant if you weren't in his head and knew his true thoughts in 1st.
Melisande (I know dreadful name but it's hers and I can't change it!) is part 1st and looking back in 3rd.

I'm sorry you hate 1st to read D.J. . Is is because you'll be too close to the character and you need distance? I have a friend who analysed her dislike as that.


message 8: by D.J. (new)

D.J. Cooper | 1028 comments I like 1st. But I don’t like 1st person written in the present tense. I just can’t get on with it. As long as it’s written in the past tense I don’t care whose point of view it’s written from. I wrote Track in the 1st to get his attitude across.


message 9: by D.J. (new)

D.J. Cooper | 1028 comments I don’t like, ‘I walk into the room and hear the bird sing. The sun is shining and I pick up my saxophone’. It feel’s awkward. I prefer, ‘I walked into the room and heard the bird sing. The sun was shining and I picked up my saxophone.’ It just has a more natural feel as if someone is telling a story that happened rather than narrating their life as it happens.

(I don’t know what the sun shining has to do with picking up a saxophone, by the way! Probably nothing unless they’re now solar powered.)


message 10: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1419 comments D.J. wrote: "I don’t like, ‘I walk into the room and hear the bird sing. The sun is shining and I pick up my saxophone’. It feel’s awkward. I prefer, ‘I walked into the room and heard the bird sing. The sun was..."

Ah...but think about this:

"He walked into the sunlit room, sat, and picked up his saxophone, bending over to pick up the metal canister of reeds from which he picked one that he put in his mouth. Then, sitting back and closing his eyes, he thought about what truly gave him pleasure, this musician by day, this assassin by night."


message 11: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1734 comments D.J. wrote: "(I don’t know what the sun shining has to do with picking up a saxophone, by the way! Probably nothing unless they’re now solar powered.)"

The sunshine and birdsong motivated the musician to play, of course. ;-)


message 12: by Theodore (last edited Aug 14, 2018 06:48AM) (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1419 comments Dale wrote: "D.J. wrote: "(I don’t know what the sun shining has to do with picking up a saxophone, by the way! Probably nothing unless they’re now solar powered.)"

The sunshine and birdsong motivated the musi..."


But of course...they brought him joy. (;>)


message 13: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1734 comments Theodore wrote: "He walked into the sunlit room, sat, and picked up his saxophone, bending over to pick up the metal canister of reeds from which he picked one that he put in his mouth. Then, sitting back and closing his eyes, he thought about what truly gave him pleasure, this musician by day, this assassin by night."

Uh-oh, now it's like a game. Throwing it back into first person:

"I walked into the sunlit room, sat, and picked up my saxophone. Bending to select a reed from the metal canister on the floor, I took one and put it into my mouth, then leaned back, closed my eyes, and soaked up the warmth streaming through the window. I needed no inspiration this morning. The song was already flowing within me. A clean kill in the dark of midnight. A melody played in the pure light of day. Some would brand me a contradiction, this musician-assassin, but I hear the music of death, just as I hear the poetry of song, and here, now, in the brilliant morning, I played with feeling the dark deeds of the previous night."

Somebody else's turn. ;-)


message 14: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1419 comments Dale wrote: "Theodore wrote: "He walked into the sunlit room, sat, and picked up his saxophone, bending over to pick up the metal canister of reeds from which he picked one that he put in his mouth. Then, sitti..."

Ha! Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! Great opening for your next novel!


message 15: by D.J. (new)

D.J. Cooper | 1028 comments That's great, but all that is written in the past. Not the present, which grates on my nerves. That was the point I was making.


message 16: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1419 comments D.J. wrote: "That's great, but all that is written in the past. Not the present, which grates on my nerves. That was the point I was making."

And my point was, I find myself able to write more dramatically using the omniscient, all-seeing observer. A matter of taste, I guess.

[Third person omniscient is a point of view where the narrator knows all the thoughts, actions, and feelings of all characters. The author may move from character to character to show how each one contributes to the plot.]


message 17: by D.J. (new)

D.J. Cooper | 1028 comments Yes I understand that.


message 18: by Dale (last edited Aug 14, 2018 11:41AM) (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1734 comments Theodore wrote: "Ha! Brilliant! Absolutely brilliant! Great opening for your next novel!"

Maybe, but I don't want to steal your character. ;-)


message 19: by Karen (new)

Karen Eisenbrey | 18 comments Dale wrote: "Theodore wrote: "He walked into the sunlit room, sat, and picked up his saxophone, bending over to pick up the metal canister of reeds from which he picked one that he put in his mouth. Then, sitti..."

I take up the challenge to do it in present:

"Morning sunlight and birdsong fill my room, and I must play. Bending to select a reed from the metal canister on the floor, I place one into my mouth, then lean back, eyes closed, and soak up the warmth streaming through the window. I need no inspiration this morning. The song flows within me. A clean kill in the dark of midnight. A melody played in the pure light of day. Some would brand me a contradiction, this musician-assassin, but I hear the music of death, just as I hear the poetry of song, and here, now, in the brilliant morning, I play with feeling the dark deeds of the night now past."


message 20: by Theodore (new)

Theodore Cohen (theodorejeromecohen) | 1419 comments Karen wrote: "Dale wrote: "Theodore wrote: "He walked into the sunlit room, sat, and picked up his saxophone, bending over to pick up the metal canister of reeds from which he picked one that he put in his mouth..."

Wow! That is terrific! The opening of a great novel!

Who wants to do the SECOND paragraph?


message 21: by Dale (new)

Dale Lehman (dalelehman) | 1734 comments Karen wrote: "Dale wrote: "Theodore wrote: "He walked into the sunlit room, sat, and picked up his saxophone, bending over to pick up the metal canister of reeds from which he picked one that he put in his mouth..."

Nice job!


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