First Person vs. Third Person

I thought I would talk a little about viewpoint in today’s post. I know it’s a topic that’s frequently discussed across the internet, but I wanted to share my own experiences with viewpoints with you all. Who knows, one of you might find it helpful!

First, a list of pros and cons:

First Person

Pros

  • Easy to get inside the character’s head from the start.
  • Easy to develop a distinctive voice, as the character ‘talks’ to the reader.
  • More immediate and personal.

Cons

  • Very limited in its scope (difficult to follow more than one character).
  • The writer’s voice can become lost amongst the character’s thoughts.
  • Can often feel ‘reflective’ and difficult to speculate on future events.
  • No danger – the character survives or they would not be telling the story.

Third Person

Pros

  • Perfect vehicle for putting across the author/writer’s voice.
  • Preferred style for many works of fiction. Readers sometimes put off by 1st person.
  • Great for covering a wide-ranging, epic story as multiple characters can be used as viewpoints.
  • Can become as personal as 1st person if the writing is good (close 3rd person).

Cons

  • Can be more difficult to use for inexperienced writers.
  • Requires hard work and solid writing to get readers connecting to characters.
  • Can become too ‘loose’ and detached if the writer isn’t careful.

My Thoughts

I personally prefer the use of third person when writing. I tend to write in a close-ish third person as I enjoy being inside the character’s head as much as possible. Sometimes, I’ll take a wider view of the world for the story’s purposes, but never for very long. I have written a couple of stories in first person and I remember particularly enjoying writing one of them. Overall, though, I found it restrictive for the sort of writing that I like to do. Maybe my style is just not suited to first person. Maybe I just need to learn a few more tricks.

Your Thoughts

It’s open to the floor now. What do you think?

~ James

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8 thoughts on “First Person vs. Third Person

  1. tmso 06-Mar-2012 / 20:11

    I like to write in third person and generally do not like first (for reading or writing). But when first is done well, it can be very good. I think either works as long as you have a good grasp of what you are doing.

    • Rosie 25-Mar-2017 / 16:19

      What a plaseure to meet someone who thinks so clearly

  2. trixycae 06-Mar-2012 / 20:29

    I usually write in the third person but I am attempting a first person novella at the moment and it is pretty difficult to stop myself from making third person statements in the protagonist’s voice. Will see how it turns out.

  3. Pissant Partisan 06-Mar-2012 / 20:46

    I switch usually, because I think First Person can be very intense.

    Has anyone tried Second Person? Sounds like a challenge to me…

    • James 06-Mar-2012 / 20:49

      Ah, yes, I did mean to put something above about 2nd person. I personally have never tried it and imagine it’s quite a challenge. Still, I’d love to read something by a fantasy author if they could pull it off.

  4. Sandra 22-May-2012 / 13:57

    This was quite helpful, actually. My friend and I decided to write a story using semi-similar kind of story but it’s completely different. While she’s doing hers in third person and more futuristic, I’m doing mine in first person and destructive. We both LOVE writing and we’re thinking of maybe publishing it after. We got into a heated discussion about third person vs first person so I researched it and found this site. I enjoy writing in both first and third person, but my preferred viewpoint is to use first person because you can get the main characters feeling across strongly, which adds affects to certain scenes whether they are touching or depressing. Those are my thoughts though. I really enjoy writing. 🙂

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