How do you decide what perspective to use in a novel?

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Post by Guest »

Silly question. How do you decide what perspective to use in a novel? I have one I've been playing with and have written it in 3rd person, but now am considering 1st person. What do you think are the benefits of each and which do you prefer?


Post by J.E. »

There is a really well written, powerful, and incredibly useful book, titled "The power of Point of view." I'm not using this suggestion to avoid answering your question, which I'll do in a bit, but if you are considering your viewpoint, then having a work that reviews the various types, including the various levels of third person limited, would be very useful for you.

Post by Pamela »

It depends on the MC. Some characters want to tell their own story, while others are content to sit back and let someone else tell it. Try a scene from both perspectives and see which feels more natural.

Post by Stacey »

So not a silly question. It’s a struggle. I am often changing tense in my second drafts. First person is far more intimate, but apparently the rules are that nothing can happen in the book that the narrator doesn’t witness or know about. This makes me, well, tense.
So I usually opt for third person. But it’s harder to develop characters that way for me. I always admired the way Stephen King, for one, could write characters in third person that were as real as first person. And the way John Irving nailed first person.
If your first person narrator is going to run the whole book, then first person works. Lots of characters and events your main character might not be privy to? Third person.
But the best advice is to trust your instincts. Write a chapter both ways and see how you feel. Good luck! It’s not an easy decision.

Post by Bübs »

I always preferred reading in third person so it's what I always try to write in (even though first person comes to me more naturally)

But sometimes a book has a plot that simply requires first person, and I think that's due in part to the essence of mystery it gives the other characters. In first person you don't get to peek into the thought process of each character, so you never know who is plotting what. In third person it becomes a little sus if you hear everyone's thoughts except for whoever is gonna spring a plot twist at the end, so there are definitely challenges to focusing on them only in context that doesn't give anything away

Post by Benny »

It very much depends on your story and how you want to tell it. If it’s centred around one character then first person works well. For more complex stories with multiple characters you should use 3rd person. Also remember there are different versions of third person that are more personal and focused. George RR Martin writes in third person but each chapter is written from a particular person’s perspective. Let your story guide you to your decision.

Post by Julianna »

I always write in first person. If I try and write it in third, it just feels weird and stilted and I always slip up and blend back into first.
What I like to do though if I need the story to be the focus, not the main character, is I'll do alternating first person. So every chapter or so goes between first person from a different character. That way you get a complete well rounded story, several perspectives and several inner monologues. Win win.

Post by Earl »

Third person allows you to have multiple views. You can view the antagonist. You can view the henchmen. You can view the protagonist. You can view all their friends and allies.
In first person the narrator MUST be there in person or get information second hand. All you see is the narrators point of view.

Last bumped by Anonymous on Fri Aug 26, 2022 3:52 pm.
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