In writing, we can be anyone we want: a Starlord, a dog, a boy from Afghanistan, a girl from America, even an inanimate object. But something that all of these things have in common when you choose your narrator is the point of view it’s coming from.
You can go with first person, which would tell us exactly what’s happening as they go about their day to day business, but only theirs.
You can go with second person, which would let the reader imagine exactly what is happening, as it’s as if it’s instructing you. That sentence was written in second person.
You can go with third person, which could give more information about surrounded scenarios and other characters.
But which one would be best? Well, that depends on what affect you would like to have on the audience.
The differences between the ‘persons’ are the pronouns they use. Other things come into affect, of course (such as other information and how much you give away), but today I’m going to talk about the basics of the different ‘persons’ as well as their pros and cons.
First Person – uses ‘I’, ‘me’, ‘my’, ‘us’ and ‘we’.
- Can offer insight into the main character (MC)’s thoughts and feelings.
- Can help the reader to identify and relate to the MC.
- Easier to portray the world around them (eg in The Hunger Games) and other character’s personalities – but, this is only from the MC’s point of view, so they could be biased.
- If something happens elsewhere, when the MC is not present, then another character will have to narrate it to them, which can become tedious.
- Along with the tediousness, ‘I’ can become repetitive.
- If the character is not interesting and varied enough – or without character development – then the reader can get bored.
Second person – uses ‘you’, ‘your’ and ‘yours’.
- Puts the reader completely in the story.
- Can make them feel incredibly involved.
- Can be good for those ‘choose your own destiny’ stories (they are totally not my guilty pleasure… especially the Doctor Who ones…)
- Can constantly remind the reader they’re in a story, which is exactly what you don’t want.
- Can be difficult to write.
Third person – uses ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’ and the plurals, as well as ‘they’.
- Gives the writer (you!) the greatest flexibility; any character can be the ‘main’.
- You can swap between characters more easily than first person.
- Dramatic Irony.
- Multiple characters POV’s can get confusing, very quickly.
- It can restrict ‘seeing’ inside the characters’ heads. You’ll have to work really hard so that the reader knows what they’re thinking (unless the affect is that they don’t).
- Each character must have a different voice, and this can be difficult to do.
Of course, in third person you can stick to one character, like most of the Harry Potter series. Or you can switch persons (difficultly, but it can be done), such as Game of Thrones.
Ultimately, just do whatever you think is right for your novel. A post I read said that most beginning writers write from the third person, but my current novel is in 1st; additionally, another (or the same, I can’t remember) post said that lots of thriller books are in 3rd person, but mine’s in 1st. A great thing about being a writer is that you don’t have to break the rules; they bend to your will.
Have fun, and if it doesn’t work, remember that you can always rewrite it!
Questions, comments, thoughts? Shoot! 😀
PS – sorry this was a day late. I went to Scouts and then had an accident (I’m a Young Leader, I shouldn’t be doing anything anyway!) and had a bit of a headache last night, so I went for the easy thing of writing my novel instead. 🙂