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Third Person vs First Person

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Third Person vs First Person

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  • #48471
    Princess Foo
    @princess-foo

    So, I normally write in first person but for my latest WIP I’ve decided to write in deep limited third person, because I wanted to switch between two POVs and I thought it fitted the tone I was going for better. Because it’s limited third, I’m thinking it’s basically the same as first person, just changing all the pronouns. Is it?

    Are there differences between deep third person and first person besides the pronouns?

    The cake is a lie. acaylor.com

    #48480
    Daeus Lamb
    @daeus-lamb

    @princess-foo Pretty much. Deep third feels more “in the present” because a first-person narrator is assumed to have already experienced all the events. With deep third, you also have less wiggle room with telling since there’s no narrator voice. Showing is very important.

    Basically though, the differences are minor.

    πŸ˜€
    πŸ‘•πŸ‘
    πŸ‘– 🐒🐒🐒🐒🐒

    #48496
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @princess-fooΒ @daeus-lamb

    Though I would add on and say that there is a freedom in third person which makes makes it easier to lay a scene out. Third person has a more flexible view.

    Orson Scott Card does an amazing job with it in Ender’s Game.

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #48502
    Princess Foo
    @princess-foo

    @daeus-lamb Thanks! That’s really helpful.


    @wordsmith
    I love Ender’s Game! What do you mean third person has a more flexible view? I’ve heard that but I don’t really understand it. Could you give an example?

    The cake is a lie. acaylor.com

    #48504
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @princess-foo

    Yes, in first person you are limited to the MC’s perspective. The reader won’t see, hear, smell, taste, or feel, anything the MC’s doesn’t. The MC’s is the translator of everything going on.

    In third person, your narrator can see things that MC can’t. He can hear, smell, taste, and feel things the MC can’t. He can show the reader things that MC can’t see. He can give background info that MC can’t.

    That is how third person is more flexible.

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #48505
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    For example…

    “I reach my hand out… the door knob looks cold. Just as I touch it a hot sweaty hand clamps over my mouth, and iron muscles jerk me back.” (first person)

    “Daeus reaches his hand out toward the gleaming knob. It’s cold shining surface hold his attention as a hot sweaty hand slowly extends from the shadows, ready to strike and clamp down on the young man’s mouth.” (third person)

    (Thanks @daeus-lamb for letting me use you as an example)

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #48506
    Princess Foo
    @princess-foo

    @wordsmith Oh… that makes sense. I figured I couldn’t do that since I was using deep third.

    The cake is a lie. acaylor.com

    #48509
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @princess-foo

    That’s a tough call…

    I would say in deep third you can step outside side of the character POV… to tell a story or give background, maybe even switch POV briefly, but you you are right that staying close to MC is important. I think if you are unsure of anything, look in Ender’s Game and see if Card does it. Because I think even he has a more relaxed perception than first person.

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #48530
    Rachel Rogers
    @scribbles

    @wordsmith @princess-foo

    Actually, limited third person POV is always just that…limited. Everything in limited third person is told through the eyes of only one particular character. Showing anything else would involve changing the POV to omniscient third person, with an outside narrator who knows and sees everything.

    A couple of other things to note:

    You can change POV from one character to another if it is vitally important to the story to see something from multiple perspectives without having an omniscient narrator, but I would stick with limited third person POV for each character in that case.

    “Person” refers to the pronouns used. Oversimplified, this means: First person=I/we, second person=you, and third person=he/she/they. There are other pronouns as well, of course, but the aforementioned are the core pronouns for each person.

    “Point of View (POV)” refers to the perspective from which the story is being told…namely, who’s narrating. POV can be limited (only seen through the eyes of one character) or omniscient (seen through the eyes of a narrator who knows everything, including what every single character knows/sees/feels/does).

    Person and POV are related, but they are not the same thing.

    Hope this helps!

    Ambiverted INFP. Scribbles all the words. Names the plant friends. Secretly Edna the Piguirrel.

    #48538
    Parker Hankins
    @parker

    I always say third person is the best!! It’s like what Daeus Lamb said.

    Living in a world of mystery and dangerous predicaments while working with the AWESOME Meraki's.

    #48544
    Buddy J.
    @wordsmith

    @scribbles

    Oh! I hadn’t realized that… I am very glad you clarified. I personally prefer to writeΒ omniscient, so I guess I’d tend to be more relaxed. Thank you πŸ™‚

    Published author, student in writing, works with HazelGracePress.com

    #48549
    Princess Foo
    @princess-foo

    @scribblesΒ @wordsmith Thanks for your help!

    The cake is a lie. acaylor.com

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