First Person vs. Third Person

Until I wrote the Havoc Chronicles, all the stories I had written had been in 3rd person. For those of you who are not writers, this is where the book is written with he/she/it. The narrator is typically outside of the story looking in, but may have the ability to explain the thoughts and motivations of some or all of the characters.

For example:

Jack pulled off his shoe and hurled it at the giant space cow. The shoe bounced off the cow’s enormous backside and fell harmlessly to the ground. Jack took several steps backward as the massive bovine slowly turned to see the source of the pitiful attack. When it saw Jack, the cow let out an ear-splitting  “Moooo!” and charged toward him.

First person is where the narrator is speaking about something that happened (or is currently happening) to them (I/my/me).

For example:

I pulled off my shoe and hurled it at the giant space cow. The shoe bounced off the cow’s enormous backside and fell harmlessly to the ground. I took several steps backward as the massive bovine slowly turned to see the source of the pitiful attack. When it saw me, the cow let out an ear-splitting  “Moooo!” and charged toward me.

There are a lot of books written in third person. I don’t have any statistics to back this up, but from what I see, it is by far the most common POV for books throughout history. That being said, in the YA genre, first person has become very popular. When I wrote Threads That Bind, I wanted to give first person a try.

So I did.

And I loved it!

It worked great for the Havoc Chronicles. I was able to get Madison’s voice down, and I really felt like I could connect with her character. It was much easier to hear her voice when I wrote in third person.

The down side of first person is that it is much more difficult to get information that the main character doesn’t know – what the bad guy’s motivation is, what characters are doing when the main character isn’t around, thoughts and feelings of the other characters. That kind of stuff.

So for my next book I decided to go back to 3rd person and…

…it hasn’t worked out so well for me. I’ve had a hard time connecting with the main character and getting a feel for his voice. After having written in first person, third person just felt kind of clinical and stale to me. I know it can be done well, but I really struggled with it. I found myself repeatedly slipping back to first person and having to go back and change it. So, rather than fight it any longer, I am just going to go with it and write the book in first person.

I’ve been trying that for a few days and am finding the joy in writing again. Sometime, you just have to go with you heart instead of your head.

This entry was posted in Random Musings, Writing Tips. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to First Person vs. Third Person

  1. Kelly says:

    Agreed! Just go with what works best for you, and odds are that a much better book will come of it. Personally, I also find that writing in first person is easier, and I prefer it when books are written that way. Definitely looking forward to your next book even more now 🙂

    • Brant says:

      Kelly – I’ve become a big fan of 1st person myself. I think these books will be much better since I am more comfortable in 1st person now. It would have taken me a long time to get back into the 3rd person groove. I just wasn’t having fun writing that way. And if I’m not having fun, I can’t imagine it will be fun to read.

  2. Gill says:

    Go with whatever you feel more comfortable with. If it doesn’t feel right to you how can it come across right for your readers. I am looking forward to your next book.

Leave a Reply