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Perspective: First Person vs. Third Person:

First person present tense also has the problem of the narrator not realizing the significance or comprehension of events immediately. Say a landmine goes off in front of the narrator. He wouldn't tell the reader "a landmine blows up in front of me, " he'd say "WHAT THE HELL WAS THAT?!" and find out later that it was a landmine. Use that throughout the whole story, it might get confusing or annoying.

The Hunger Games is hugely popular so it must not be that too many people mind the first-person present tense. I didn't even think about it at the time, but maybe that was part of why I was sucked in.

That reminds me, also the first person narration should match the personality and traits of the narrator. If the narrator is not good with big words and refers to things as things, then his narration should use that.

[up] Definately true that.

I always use the third person past, because it's what I generally read, and it's what I'm comfortable writing. I could use the first person on this latest project, but eh, it works in the end.

At least I hope it does, we'll see.
...can still bite
I have talked to someone who said the the first-person present tense of The Hunger Games made it bad for her. I think it helps to pull the reader into the story. Surely it was done on purpose for that reason.

The Hunger Games is hugely popular so it must not be that too many people mind the first-person present tense. I didn't even think about it at the time, but maybe that was part of why I was sucked in.

The one thing I hated about the first-person POV for that book is that it's too limited. By having only one narrator, it reduces dramatic tension because you already know she's going to live and places some of the action off-screen. I think it would have been better if at least four or maybe even eight of the tributes were narrators, developing their character and history equally to the point that you don't know who the main character is. That way it would increase the dramatic tension, not decrease it.

edited 26th May '13 8:01:22 AM by shiro_okami

 31 Wolf 1066, Sun, 26th May '13 4:29:29 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
Multiple PO Vs, regardless of whether it's first- or third-person, does enable a lot more to be covered.

I find third-person omniscient extremely hard to write, but having multiple POV characters in third-person limited (with sensible and clear changes between them) enables different points of view to be covered, and action that is not witnessed by one character to be revealed through another.

Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 32 Jimmy T Malice, Tue, 28th May '13 6:36:15 AM from Top lane Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
[up][up] But then it would be even more like Battle Royale.

  • has not read Battle Royale*
"Steel wins battles. Gold wins wars."
hm. what about second person? what are its advantages? or does this derail the thread.
so much to do, and yet... here, it feels like one cannot do anything but lie here and sleep forever.
 34 Jimmy T Malice, Wed, 29th May '13 6:31:48 AM from Top lane Relationship Status: THIS CONCEPT OF 'WUV' CONFUSES AND INFURIATES US!
Second person is silly. It only really works for choose-your-own-adventures stories where you explicitly are the protagonist.
"Steel wins battles. Gold wins wars."
are you sure? i mean, can't it be used for more than just silly things like V Ns and CYOA books?

i mean, using it seriously can work, can't it?
so much to do, and yet... here, it feels like one cannot do anything but lie here and sleep forever.
 36 Ars Thaumaturgis, Wed, 29th May '13 8:22:27 AM Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
I wonder: might it work for a story that purports to tell you what you're going to do or that ostensibly describes things that one did, but does not remember, in either case perhaps as a form of existential horror? It seems likely that it would only work properly once for a given reader, especially in the "future" case, and it feels perhaps a little gimmicky, but it might work.

 37 nrjxll, Wed, 29th May '13 12:55:22 PM Relationship Status: Not war
"Gimmicky" is the word I believe usually applies to second-person no matter what the situation.

 38 Wolf 1066, Wed, 29th May '13 2:04:55 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
You could use it for a book that starts off saying something like "These are the events that happened to you last week, that your mind has suppressed..." or finishes along the lines of "you were captured, tortured, raped then mind-wiped and given a false set of memories to account for the last few days."

It'd still be gimmicky, but it'd also be a hell of a lot of fun to give to someone who's especially gullible or paranoid...
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 39 JHM, Wed, 29th May '13 2:59:34 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
There are circumstances in which the second person can be non-gimmicky, but they almost always require the understanding that the "you" in question is not the reader, but a separate character. But that is difficult to convey, and pretty rare to boot. I have used that device in small doses myself, but even I recognise that it is a gamble as to whether the tone is appropriately conveyed or accepted.

But that's experimental fiction in a nutshell. You succeed and you earn the distinction of being "clever" or "effective;" you fail and you come off as "gimmicky" or "pretentious." So it goes. Fun but risky.
 40 nrjxll, Wed, 29th May '13 5:22:22 PM Relationship Status: Not war
At least as far as my use of the term goes, it doesn't stop being gimmicky just because it's been pulled off well.

 41 JHM, Wed, 29th May '13 5:40:50 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
The way I see it, a gimmick is a device or trope that is used as the primary "draw" of a piece of writing in and of itself sans relation to quality. Second person is usually used as a gimmick, but I do not think that it is always a gimmick.
 42 De Marquis, Wed, 29th May '13 5:44:56 PM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
"Imagine that you are walking down an unpaved path. It appears to be a normal road, at twilight, the ground soggy from a recent rain. You have no particular thoughts in mind during this evening stroll, beyond the sound of insects, of dripping leaves, and a mild heaviness at having just left your lover."

It can be made to work in a serious way, but it's not easy.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 43 JHM, Wed, 29th May '13 5:51:56 PM from Neither Here Nor There Relationship Status: I know
Thunder, Perfect Mind
[up] Technically that's an implied first person, given that you are making requests of the "you" in this scenario.
Second-person isn't always silly. As The Other Wiki says, Bright Lights Big City is one of the few well-known English-language novels written in the second person, and its main character is unnamed. It's film, Bright Lights Big City is more well-known on this wiki.

edited 29th May '13 10:55:06 PM by lexicon

Uh weighing into the second person argument. I personally use it from time to time, but only for a particular character. The reason I do it with that character is that they have really negative thoughts about themself that tend to be in the second person anyways. "You suck, you're stupid, nobody likes you", things like that. It's actually really gimmicky now that I think about it. Good thing I do it rarely.

But yeah I guess what I was trying to say is that you need a really good reason to do second person?

Elvenking
I reckon third person is easier and allows you to do more (multiple PO Vs etc.), but how about another thread derail into third person omniscient ve limited?
 47 Ars Thaumaturgis, Thu, 30th May '13 7:10:47 AM Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
[up][up] By your description, I'd think that your example is more one of a third-person narration that includes a character addressing him- or her- self; in short, second-person dialogue, but not second-person writing.

[up] I believe that we have another thread in which that might better fit.

 48 demarquis, Thu, 30th May '13 8:43:42 AM from Hell, USA Relationship Status: Buried in snow, waiting for spring
Who Am I?
@JHM: Hm. Isn't all use of second person an implied third person, in the sense that the person who is narrating isn't "You" but someone else? "You walk into a room" implies that someone else is telling you that you have walked into a room.
“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”
 49 Ars Thaumaturgis, Thu, 30th May '13 9:52:13 AM Relationship Status: I've been dreaming of True Love's Kiss
I think that one could argue that all narrative points of view are relative: third-person limited is first-person to the person being described, for example.

Which is a slightly longer way of saying "I agree with you", I suppose. ^^;

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