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Writer's Block:
First-Person or Third?
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Total posts: [7]
1

First-Person or Third?:

Dr. JŠn Ĩtor
I find myself at a point where I can't move forward with what I'm writing. I've written two similar passages in first-person and third-person, respectfully. Try as I might, I just can't decide which one is objectively better. Compounded onto this is that there's a serious difference in tone between the two pieces. In first-person, the tone is much more humorous, bordering on silly at times, where third-person comes off with much more gravity.

Honestly, I feel like I'm not good enough as a writer to tackle a third-person perspective for the simple fact that I get lost trying to describe the moment-to-moment minutia of different environments and physical movements. In first-person, I can't help but feel that the writing comes off as amateurish in spots, as I just can't seem to add weight and seriousness to the situation while I'm juggling the humor that pervades any attempt at first-person.

Anyone care to smack me around with the wisdom stick?

edited 20th Jan '13 8:19:48 PM by monthefratellis

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
 2 nrjxll, Sun, 20th Jan '13 8:28:34 PM Relationship Status: Not war
You seem to be conflating third-person omniscient and third-person limited here.

Dapper Gentleman
Well, I don't know that either perspective could be said to be objectively better; instead, it depends on what sort of tone you're going for. I know exactly none of your work's details, but deciding if a breezier or more serious tone would suit it better should help point you in the right direction. As for description in the third person, it needn't be a continual flow of information. Just do your best to avoid the Featureless Plane of Disembodied Dialogue and give the reader a sense of place.
"And every life is a special story of its own." —The Stargazer, Mass Effect 3
Dapper Gentleman
Oh, and nrjxll is right about that. It's possible to have third-person centered around the protagonist and still show their thoughts directly at times; the difference is largely a matter of pronouns in that case.
"And every life is a special story of its own." —The Stargazer, Mass Effect 3
 5 drunkscriblerian, Sun, 20th Jan '13 8:33:32 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
OP: I've tackled this problem in my own writing...I started out wanting to write my story from third-person and ended up doing it first-person at the last minute. Reason; it felt much more natural and it suited the genre I was writing in (detective fiction).

My take; if you are even asking this question, go first-person. Also; if the story seems to want to be humorous, work with that...don't fight it. If it feels amateurish, that might be a character voice rather than a flaw. If it is consistent people might like it. Write it out and see.

Example from my own work; I chose to write a noir novel from the perspective of a female private investigator. I would come to places where I could not think of an evocative way to describe what was happening...so I just put some bare bones in with the idea of fixing it later. This approached ended up netting a no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is narrative beta readers found fresh and interesting.

Granted, it took a few chapters to settle out that way but by the end I had it working.

Short answer is write it out and see, and don't fight your inspiration.

(Note: third-person narrative does have its merits, but I've found that by nature it is more dry and distant. Whereas first-person is up close and personal...if and only if your character is well-developed enough to keep the reader coming back for more.)

edited 20th Jan '13 8:33:52 PM by drunkscriblerian

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
Dr. JŠn Ĩtor
[up][up]Yes, my third-person omniscient does this, but it's nowhere on the level of the actual first-person version.

I find the first-person version keeps coming off to me like The Dresden Files, which is something that wouldn't lend it itself to being written in third-person.

[up]I do get the most out of first-person, so I'm probably going to be sticking with it. Still ...

edited 20th Jan '13 8:45:31 PM by monthefratellis

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.
 7 drunkscriblerian, Sun, 20th Jan '13 9:28:13 PM from Castle Geekhaven Relationship Status: In season
Street Writing Man
I find the first-person version keeps coming off to me like The Dresden Files

That's okay. Remember; Jim Butcher did not invent First-Person Smartass-style narrative, he just popularized it with geeks. Some Dresden fans don't realize that such narrative has been popular for a while in genres other than the ones they read. It's basically the spiritual successor to the Private Eye Monologue, which has been parodied so many times it's all but impossible to do seriously anymore.

If I were to write some of the strange things that come under my eyes they would not be believed.

~Cora M. Strayer~
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Total posts: 7
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