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What is most common, 1st or 3rd?

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Old 04-12-2010, 04:36 PM
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Default What is most common, 1st or 3rd?


What is the most common, and easiest, way to write? Is it easier to write in first person (I, my, we, etc...) or third person (She, *Name Here*, etc..)? How come is it easier to write in it? I usually write in 3rd person, but it sometimes makes the tense hard to write in :P

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Old 04-12-2010, 05:42 PM
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Third person is kind of the "default" for writing.
But that doesn't really mean anything, anymore than black eyes being the most common in humans really means anything. Your eyes are they color they are because of who you are.

One's no harder to write than the other. Since first person limits the narrative to one person, it can present problems in discussing anything not present at the moment or place. Which can be dealt with in various ways.

The most important thing is that the POV fit the narrative voice of the story you are telling. If it seems to be a first person story to you, you can make it work.

You see a lot of first person in mysteries. Travis McGee, Sherlock's Watson, Spenser, Mike Hammer, etc. It fits nicely with that genre because the reader doesn't know the answer, the narrator doesn't know, so you move along trying to figure it out.

But they are just two different ways of doing things, neither is superior to the other.
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Old 04-12-2010, 06:23 PM
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I personally find it more difficult to use 1st person (even though I still do, anyway), but that's just my personal opinion. Just do whatever suits your tastes best!
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Old 04-14-2010, 02:59 AM
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3rd person is the most common and is a kind of default in fiction writing. But whatever is easiest depends on so many things. It mainly depends on the peson who is writing it, and what kind of story they're trying to tell.
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Old 04-14-2010, 04:34 AM
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I noticed that recently in the modern era that there are lots and lots of 1st person books out there. On my personal book shelf I was looking for a good '3rd person' book to reference too and huge amount were written in 1st person. But 3rd person is still found and written about just as intensely.

I think people pick the POV that best fits their novel. I once wrote a story in 1st person and then rewrote it in 3rd person to see what it would sound like. Sometimes writing a small scene to see what is better helps too.

Some people find 1st person easy some people find 3rd person easy. when I write 1st person I have to take on a role, my whole thoughts etc. actively change. This same thing happens in 3rd person except it's different and not as intense.
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Old 04-14-2010, 03:30 PM
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I like writing in first person
best for:
mysteries
realistic fiction
sometimes horror?
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Old 04-14-2010, 04:23 PM
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This is what i'm looking for, but I'm going to narrow down what the topic is haha.

What would sound the best or work the best with a fantasy fiction novel?
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Old 04-14-2010, 04:43 PM
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What everybody is telling you, man, is that there isn't a "sound the best".
Deal with it.
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Old 04-14-2010, 10:39 PM
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Originally Posted by pivotraze View Post
This is what i'm looking for, but I'm going to narrow down what the topic is haha.

What would sound the best or work the best with a fantasy fiction novel?
Take a look at the fantasy books in your local bookstore. They probably have a wide selection. What point of view are they written in? Are they all the same or is there variation? Of the fantasy books you've read, what point of view were they written in? Did it work well for you, as the reader?
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:26 PM
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haha okay, ill try to get used to the idea that there IS no best :P
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Old 04-15-2010, 04:40 PM
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Actually, it's: there is no worse.
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Old 04-15-2010, 10:50 PM
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I think POV has a great deal to do with genres and the actual story line. Sometimes third person doesn't suit a literary work with a sensitive subject because it can create too much distance between the work and the reader.

So ask yourself, what's the genre, the setting and the purpose. I had a mystery work that I had initially written in third person but I'm now writing it in first person and from the feedback it's more engaging in first which is something I wouldnt' have guessed. I took on the rewrite into first and had planned to do the next edit back into third. Now I'm going to keep it first person.

So to make a long story short, write what suits the purpose of your work best.
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Old 04-16-2010, 04:03 AM
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Sometimes third person doesn't suit a literary work with a sensitivesubject because it can create too much distance between the work andthe reader.
This "distance" thing is one of the many, many myths of POV.
Writers are better off not even THINKING of POV. And especially not buying into all the claptrap that gets hung on it by people who babble about "head-hopping" and "reliability spectra" and "distance".
There is nothing proprietary to first person about "closeness" to the reader. By any stretch of the imagination. That's a matter of style and skill. And mostly something critics talk about but writers don't think about.
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Old 04-17-2010, 07:30 AM
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One can rail against the tide of prevailing opinions, try to set a new standard in how writing is accomplished, ignore that head-hopping can be extremely distracting to the reader, and forget that how we write within a POV can draw our readers in or not; but in the end, you use the POV that fits the story.

You do what works, while remembering that if getting published is your aim, you still have to consider all those elements that agents and publishers are looking for and that is good solid creative storytelling.
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:17 AM
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Yes I suppose one could rail, and I suppose one could discuss "how writing is accomplished", but nobody here was doing either one.

Agents and publishers aren't out there looking for the right POV or enthused about a book but suddenly throwing it across the room in horror screaming, "Oh, NO... he broke the limitations of his Third Person."
Or... "Egad, we would have signed this book, but it head-hopped."

Again... "POV" is not a writing tool nor "how writing is accomplished" nor anything a writer really has to think about. He's to busy figuring out who's telling the story and what the narrative voice is.
POV and protagonist and such are CRITICAL terms, dreamed up by non-writers or commentators to discuss the writing of others. Writers don't come up with that stuff, or think that way. Unless they've been conned into it by English teachers or the usual internet rumor mill or wannabes pretending they can write because they've learned a lot of jargon.

I have never, ever, once in my life heard a reader say, "I got distracted by the head-hopping." It's an invention by the same bunch I just mentioned.

The idea that there is a "tide of opinions" that POV is a big deal that a writer needs to obssess over, and has "rules" that determine if it qualifies for "third person omnipotent" or some such category is absurd.

There is NO such drift of opinion among professional fiction writers. That's just not how the writing process works. You see "paint by the number" kits, but you don't really see a lot of books written by the numbers.

I say that getting concerned with this critical jargon is of no help to a writer (and nobody has ever shown me one single way it helps anybody write) but can fuck up their heads (and I daily see writers asking things like this one or "Can I have two protagonists without angering the Gods" or whatever.

My advice to young writers would be never to even think of the terms POV, protagonist, passive voice. It just messes you up and hurts your ability to write.
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Old 04-17-2010, 10:54 AM
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Originally Posted by Lin View Post
My advice to young writers would be never to even think of the terms POV, protagonist, passive voice. It just messes you up and hurts your ability to write.
Every writer should take this piece of advice and nail it above the door of their workshop.
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Old 04-17-2010, 12:26 PM
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And I think it's reckless to suggest that those things don't matter. If we are talking about a first draft, by all means, forget all that and just write but when it comes to submitting for publishing, it needs to be ready.
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Old 04-17-2010, 01:37 PM
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There is absolutely nothing reckless about ignoring whatever labels observers from outside place on writing. And can cause trouble... as is pretty plain to see, like, right here.
The "needs to be ready" is obvious. But begs the question of whether obsessing with POV and protags and "headhopping" and all that horseshit is necessary to get it ready. Or really, at any point for... and let me say this again since it's apparently not clear... for THE WRITER.
Not the English teacher or critical structurist or other kibbitzer. Has NOTHING to do with the creative process.

(Oh, I forgot to toss "theme" into that basket... another totally worthless concept to the writer, but you see kibbitzers just going anal all over it.)
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Old 04-17-2010, 02:24 PM
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btw, Lin..what is "reliability spectra"?
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Old 04-17-2010, 02:32 PM
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Hard to tell exactly what that crap really means--I'm kind of pointing out here that it means NOTHING to the act of creating writing--but kind of indicates the degree to which a narrator is reliable or unreliable.
Very handy in creating ever more hyphenated categories with which to pigeonhole literature. Somebody mentions an "unreliable narrator", which means there are "reliable narrators", of course. But how about ones who are only partly reliable? Obvious a spectrum is implied and some grad student will do a paper on it.

Then some wannabe will find it and post it, and the internet rumor mill of third hand advice will start enshrining it as something to kvetch over.
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Old 04-18-2010, 02:36 PM
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I don't think one way is easier than the other, some writers will write in first, other will not; it's personal choice.

However there are advantages and disadvantages to both. First person allows for excellent introspection and you can really tell a story from an "intense" POV. Third is harder in this regard but it allows you to switch POV and the writer can take the place of the narrator, allowing for a less limited use of words.

My choice is always third. I find it so much easier to tell a story as I am, in effect, an observer to it myself. Third, to me, simply feels like the writer is telling me the story whilst first can feel more like a diary. Just my preference of course.

What I have seen, and I do think is very cool, is a book that is primarily written in third but into which is woven short first person segments. The best example off the top of my head would be Dune.
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Old 04-19-2010, 08:09 AM
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Originally Posted by Ravenius View Post
when I write 1st person I have to take on a role, my whole thoughts etc. actively change. This same thing happens in 3rd person except it's different and not as intense.
Yes, same for me. My experience is that if a story suggests itself to me by plot, I usually write it in third person. My strongest plots seem to need that versatility. If a story suggests itself to me by character, I usually write in first person. They want to tell their own stories.

Right now I'm working on a third person story, but I'm trying to make it grow from the perspective of one character. So I use phrases that sound like he'd say them, avoid vocab he wouldn't use, etc. I don't know if there's a literary name for that; I just know that it seems right for that story.
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