Saturday, November 12, 2011

2nd Sunday Savors: 1st vs 3rd

 Above you see a starfish in the sand slowly making his way back to the ocean. As the tide rises he will get to his goal sooner than later. His journey may seem boring to the human eye watching from above, but to him it's a matter of life or death. He must have the nutrient mineral rich water or he will die. When you go down to his level and step into his suction pads you realize the urgency of his situation. From above see a beautiful purple sea creature, take a picture, and move on. But from his point of view it's "Poseidon's trident, I hope this two legged monster doesn't step on me!"

Those are two very different perspectives.

A story can be told in third person, second person, or first person. Each style gives perspective into the story. I never thought about the different styles until I joined RWA's local Portland chapter. At a meeting someone asked what I wrote. I told her 1st and she outright told me she would never read anything I wrote because she only reads in third person. I was really blown away by this. I struggled for a while. It literally affected my writing in negative ways because I started to doubt my ability to write.

I've never read a novel written in second person, so I don't have any opinions to add, but 1st and 3rd are the more poplar. For reading I prefer 1st person. I feel like I'm in the character's shoes and experiencing what is happening with all my senses. In 3rd person I feel like I'm watching a movie. If it's written well then I'm most likely to enjoy it.

I read both. I've read terrible novels in both categories and excellent as well. Harry Potter is all written in 3rd and I devoured the series. However I also love Kim Harrison's Hollows series and they are in 1st. Same goes for Jeaniene Frost.

The first novel I wrote was a YA in 3rd person. It came out contrived and terrible (part of that had to do with the fact it was my 1st book). In the rewrite I changed it to 1st and it flowed so much better. Even my husband noticed the difference. Ever since, I've chosen to write in 1st. It's my preferred style of reading.

So the point I'm trying to make is that it really doesn't matter what voice you write in as long as it's written well. Write what flows easier for you and write it well. Don't listen to people telling you this is better than that or visa versa. Everyone is different and you will never please everybody. So don't waste your time worrying about that and write what you love and makes you happy. Chances are if you enjoy writing the story someone else will enjoy reading it too.

Cheers and thanks for reading,



  1. We are fans of the unreliable narrator, like in An Instance of the Fingerpost, by Pears.

  2. Interesting. To be honest with you I had to google "unreliable narrator" only to discover I'm a big as well, I just didn't know it was called that. Ya learn something new everyday. :)