May 2, 2011

Posted by in Question | 10 Comments

Question – First Person or Third Person?

Quick and easy-ish question this week. 

A book written in first person narrative or third person narrative.  Do you have a preference?

There are, of course, pros and cons for each.  With a book written in first person, you usually feel a stronger connection to the main character since you are living inside their head for the duration of the book and series.  But, you may feel like you’re missing out on what some of the other characters are thinking or doing.

When it comes to third person perspectives, it’s the opposite.  Unless really well written, the connection to the lead characters can be a little washed down.  But you get to see, feel and taste what everyone is experiencing.  You might feel like you are getting a more thorough reading experience.

What do you think?

And authors, why do you write in the narrative you write in? How do you decide?

  1. I prefer third person just because that’s what I’m used too, and like you said you get both sides of the characters thoughts. Also my experience with first person has always been that’s it’s a YA or UF thing it’s never cropped up much in any other genre although saying that Jane Eyre is written in first person and I’m not a big fan of that book.

  2. Gosh that’s a hard one. Sometimes I can really tire of the 1st person POV, but if the character is really great, (think Rhiannon) then I’m sooo glad to be inside her head. But then when I think about a series like JD Robb’s in death which gives us both Roarke AND Eve’s thoughts I would be pissed to be cut down to only one POV. So, I think I’m going to say the really annoying answer “it depends on the book” 😛

  3. It depends, I like both, but it doesn’t always work

  4. It depends a lot in the character. If the character is strong and entertaining, first person POV is ok. If not, a third person is a better option.

  5. Ally – You’re right but I had never really noticed until you mentioned it. UF uses first person narrative a lot! Smarty pants.

    Jessica – It really does depend. And it would suck in certain books if you couldn’t get both characters’ points of view. Your really would miss out!

    blodeuedd – It does not always work, I agree. Can you think of a book where a different narrative would have made the story work better?

    Bookaholic Cat – The character is key. I didn’t really think about it before but for sure. If the character is weak, why would I want to spend 300 pages plus inside her head?!

  6. Third person – no doubt about it for me. Before last year I’d never read a first person book. I’d walk a mile in the other direction before I’d read one – even if it was one of my auto-buy authors.

  7. I enjoy both, but I tend to connect better with 1st person… though the 3rd person povs give us more povs, it can be confusing at times =)

    Great topic!

  8. Judi – I can’t believe you never read a first person book before last year? Do you remember which one it was? Did you enjoy it?

    Larissa – I never considered how it can get messy with a 3rd person pov sometimes. Good point!

  9. Julie: It was Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning. I caved to tweer pressure and read the entire series. While Darkfever was not necessarily my favorite, the series rocked and I’m glad I read it. I did not mind that it was told in 1st person – it seemed to work for the series. I do have lots of books told in 1st person to read – I just can’t get excited to read them.

  10. Wow Julie, sometimes your questions are tricky too. But it really just depends on the author and how well they are as a writer! If a book is mainly about one character, especially a series, then I really enjoy the first person just because that’s the one character that will for sure be consistent throughout the books and I want a strong connection with them. As for third person, if the writer can pull it off I also enjoy knowing what different characters are really thinking not just what the main character is interpreting…I hope that makes sense. So again, it just depends on my mood and the writers style.

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