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Third person stories

Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
19
Just takes it out of me and I can't get into the them. When I read, I wanna feel as if I'm in the character's shoes and not as if I'm on the outside looking in. Does anyone else feel the same? And I think becsuse of this, I miss out on some pretty decent writing .

It goes without saying that I think first person narratives are the best
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
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I'm comfortable with a close third person narrative - but I can definitely see an increasing appeal to using first person.
 

Robert Zwilling

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Jun 12, 2018
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I don't stick to one particular type of format. If it has words and looks interesting or informative I'll try reading it. The genre would be more of a factor for me and definitely a factor when purchasing books unless it's a yard sale. By using genre as a personal filter I am missing plenty of stuff.
 

HareBrain

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I'm mostly the opposite, and I've sometimes tried (without much success) to figure out why. It might be that I'm not really that interested in being in most characters' heads: I'm more interested in being with them when they do stuff. And possibly characters feel more real that way. After all, in real life, we only ever experience other people from the outside. We don't even experience our own inner life in a way that's anything like a first-person narrative.
 

L.L.Lotte

The Anime King
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A Land Down Under
Just takes it out of me and I can't get into the them. When I read, I wanna feel as if I'm in the character's shoes and not as if I'm on the outside looking in. Does anyone else feel the same? And I think becsuse of this, I miss out on some pretty decent writing .

It goes without saying that I think first person narratives are the best
I never used to like reading first person at all. I found it too limiting being stuck inside just one person's head. But that was because I grew up reading 99% 3rd person Epic Fantasy. It wasn't until the last 10 years or so that I started to appreciate 1st person more, and I suspect that is because I started to read more and more Urban Fantasy as it has become very popular and taken over the market. Urban Fantasy is far closer to Literary than other genre novels, and as such suits being written in 1st. (On another note: Young Adult has been greatly influenced by Urban Fantasy, which comes back to Jo's post above mine ;) ). What we are used to reading influences our preference on this matter.

Chasing a rabbit here (Not the one that frequents this place, I swear :p )... But regardless of that. Recently, my opinion has changed to believe that Narrative Distance is completely separate to Writing Perspective. It doesn't matter whether the author writes in 1st or 3rd, they can make it just as close to the character or just as distant. It all comes down to the ability of the author...

I'm case in point. When I showed up here, I was writing in 1st PoV and immediately started getting feedback that it was very distant from the character. The narrative distance in my current 3rd PoV work is more in the character's head than the original 1st ever was... If you check out my threads in the critiques forum you can see exactly what I'm talking about.

And another thought, some books don't suit being 1st. I recently changed to Deep 3rd on mine because I found that I needed to write the story from multiple PoV characters, not one. While you can do multiple 1st, 3rd person is far better suited for the job. And this is why 3rd is still more popular in adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. The stories tend to deal with many more character PoVs than say literary novels do, especially if we are talking about Epic Fantasy. I can see the benefit of writing say a detective novel in 1st, but could you imagine George R.R. Martin writing A Song of Ice and Fire in 1st? I don't think it would really work. He chose to go with 3rd instead, which far more suited the huge scope of the story. I'd hate to think how difficult to read Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen would be in 1st. :eek:


TL;DR different stories suit different writing styles, and it is up to the author to write them well regardless of the style chosen.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Jun 18, 2019
Messages
19
I never used to like reading first person at all. I found it too limiting being stuck inside just one person's head. But that was because I grew up reading 99% 3rd person Epic Fantasy. It wasn't until the last 10 years or so that I started to appreciate 1st person more, and I suspect that is because I started to read more and more Urban Fantasy as it has become very popular and taken over the market. Urban Fantasy is far closer to Literary than other genre novels, and as such suits being written in 1st. (On another note: Young Adult has been greatly influenced by Urban Fantasy, which comes back to Jo's post above mine ;) ). What we are used to reading influences our preference on this matter.

Chasing a rabbit here (Not the one that frequents this place, I swear :p )... But regardless of that. Recently, my opinion has changed to believe that Narrative Distance is completely separate to Writing Perspective. It doesn't matter whether the author writes in 1st or 3rd, they can make it just as close to the character or just as distant. It all comes down to the ability of the author...

I'm case in point. When I showed up here, I was writing in 1st PoV and immediately started getting feedback that it was very distant from the character. The narrative distance in my current 3rd PoV work is more in the character's head than the original 1st ever was... If you check out my threads in the critiques forum you can see exactly what I'm talking about.

And another thought, some books don't suit being 1st. I recently changed to Deep 3rd on mine because I found that I needed to write the story from multiple PoV characters, not one. While you can do multiple 1st, 3rd person is far better suited for the job. And this is why 3rd is still more popular in adult Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. The stories tend to deal with many more character PoVs than say literary novels do, especially if we are talking about Epic Fantasy. I can see the benefit of writing say a detective novel in 1st, but could you imagine George R.R. Martin writing A Song of Ice and Fire in 1st? I don't think it would really work. He chose to go with 3rd instead, which far more suited the huge scope of the story. I'd hate to think how difficult to read Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen would be in 1st. :eek:


TL;DR different stories suit different writing styles, and it is up to the author to write them well regardless of the style chosen.
I haven't read any of those books. I'm not really big on fantasy like that. I'm more contemporary fiction. Lord of the rings, Star Wars, game of thrones books, and even Harry Potter never latched onto me.

I love the pendragon series by DJ MacHale. That's what my writing softly mimics.

But I understand third person does work better for most series and stuff like that. I just can't get into it. Like the mortal instruments book did not do it for me. Every time the main character's name was mentioned , it broke my immersion
 

Jo Zebedee

Aliens vs Belfast.
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blah - flags. So many flags.
Well I'm 28...is that Young? Lol
Young enough for my purposes (although could you lie and be 5 yrs younger...)... which is this.

When YA books emerged they were primarily written in 1st/present as opposed to the previously more traditional 3rd/past. Now a new generation of writers (yes I’m old enough to say that!) have 1st/present in their natural storytelling vibe. And 3rd now feels too distant to them.
 

-K2-

mƎ know duM!
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Regarding 'writing,' I only write in the first person typically when it is very dark subject matter. Most often only regarding my own past experiences. So for me, first person 'when writing,' generates becomes a little too personal for myself and definitely too intense for the average reader. More so, since I ALWAYS insert myself into the character in some form or another (often taking some stage of my personality and life as the model), it simply amplifies that result.

So, I tend to write in 3-O. I still place myself into the position of most characters, but, it keeps it a little more detached, not quite as nakedly raw, toning it all down to an almost human level.

As far as reading goes, I'm the opposite. Thus far, most first person texts come off as pale to me. I'm NOT an accomplished writer, yet when 'I' don't get a sense of depth out of a first-person presented character, it turns me right off, not feeling genuine.

K2
 

Randy M.

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Mar 7, 2012
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1,337
Young enough for my purposes (although could you lie and be 5 yrs younger...)... which is this.

When YA books emerged they were primarily written in 1st/present as opposed to the previously more traditional 3rd/past. Now a new generation of writers (yes I’m old enough to say that!) have 1st/present in their natural storytelling vibe. And 3rd now feels too distant to them.
I think that's a reasonable premise, Jo.

I think I'm comfortable with 1st or 3rd person because I read both growing up. At that time YA reading mostly consisted of older works written for the adults of its era, but since considered tame enough for childhood consumption. Oddly that included Steinbeck, Hemingway and Poe. The Joan Kahn edited anthologies I read (and I really think parents and teachers should direct young readers to short stories for a broad array of styles and approaches) that were put out for children contained some very sophisticated writers and stories, including Edith Wharton, Henry James, Evelyn Waugh and H. G. Wells, among others.

Randy M.
 

tegeus-Cromis

a better poet than swordsman
Joined
May 17, 2019
Messages
193
I think that's a reasonable premise, Jo.

I think I'm comfortable with 1st or 3rd person because I read both growing up. At that time YA reading mostly consisted of older works written for the adults of its era, but since considered tame enough for childhood consumption. Oddly that included Steinbeck, Hemingway and Poe. The Joan Kahn edited anthologies I read (and I really think parents and teachers should direct young readers to short stories for a broad array of styles and approaches) that were put out for children contained some very sophisticated writers and stories, including Edith Wharton, Henry James, Evelyn Waugh and H. G. Wells, among others.

Randy M.
I remember reading a lot of Steinbeck when I was twelve. On my dad's recommendation. I think that summer I read maybe seven of his novels in a row.
 

Randy M.

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I remember reading a lot of Steinbeck when I was twelve. On my dad's recommendation. I think that summer I read maybe seven of his novels in a row.
I read him for class, The Pearl, The Red Pony, Of Mice and Men, and "Johnny Bear," a terrific short story. On my own I later reread Of Mice and Men, The Grapes of Wrath and Cannery Row. This summer I'm finally -- I think -- going to read Travels with Charley. He's one of the writers I was introduced to in school that I've returned to and will probably continue to return to.

Randy M.
 

tegeus-Cromis

a better poet than swordsman
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Funny, Travels with Charley was the first one I read. Because it was about a dog!
 

hitmouse

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Jul 3, 2011
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Love Travels with Charley. I would also recommend The Log From The Sea Of Cortez.
 

dgackst

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May 7, 2019
Messages
10
I lean towards favoring the third person point of view when reading a book. I have read first person stories before and enjoyed them, but they were mostly short stories.

My reasoning for favoring the third person mostly deals with setting the scene--it flows better for me that way. With first person, the usual problem for me in setting the scene is the POV character often describes/ points out stuff in a scene that either I would never notice myself, or I have no idea what it is they point out. When that stuff happens I usually get removed from the story.

With that being said, though, first person narratives can be really intense during action scenes, which I very much like.

Does anyone else feel the same way?
 
Joined
Jan 28, 2019
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Standish, Michigan
I love third person views! First person can be great too, but, if the character is one I find annoying, I really don't want to be in their head. I agree with @dgackst. I like the narrative flow of third person better when it comes to setting and description. I'll read/write either of them though.
 

ctg

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My books are mostly written in first person. Only in the new stuff I have moved to write in third person. The only problem with the third person I have is if the piece is written in the present tense. It can drive me nuts to try to make sense of it. Past tense, no problem.
 

Randy M.

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Mar 7, 2012
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First person, present tense seems to offer a challenge. How can the narrator type and do something relevant to the story at the same time? And if s/he isn't typing (scrawling, printing, whatever-ing) in the moment while living in the moment, then present tense becomes a lie, an artificial narrative strategy that undermines the reason for using present tense and so the rest of the narrative feels artificial and less credible.

The logic of present tense eludes me, though I'm somewhat more comfortable reading it than I was a few years ago. I admit the possibility I'm being a bit narrow minded on this, though.

Randy M.
 
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