Thursday, October 28, 2021

First Person versus Third Person Narrative.

I belong to a lot of book groups on Facebook, mostly to promote my books. In one group, someone asked what was better to write in: first person or third person. And that got me thinking. Which is better? Or are they the same?

Of my thirteen published novels, all but two are in first person. Of my three current WIPs, one is in first person and two are in third person.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both.

In first person, you're deep in the head of your narrator. So you (and your reader) are seeing the world and the story from his/hers/its/zers/etc. perspective. The narrator can comment on the situations and you know their reactions to things. I find writing in first person more fun than third person. The disadvantage is, you only get one person's perspective, the narrator's. If you want to know what someone else is thinking, they have to say it to your narrator. All the action of the book has to take place in front of and involving the narrator. And you can't kill your main character (unless they aren't the narrator). In my novel Book of Death, I did kill my first-person narrator. No spoilers about how I got out of that.

In third person you can write each scene in someone else's head. You can kill whomever you wish. You can have scenes wherever you wish. They could be lightyears and hundreds of years apart. You can see the world though more than one character's eyes (but not in the same scene, please). It's not as intimate as first person. But it's more versatile. You have to be careful not to "head hop" (tell the story from different points of view in one scene) or have one character know something they shouldn't that another character does know.

So which to use? Depends on what you want to write. 

How do you write? First or third person? Which do you prefer to read. Let me know in the comments below.

My first-person narrated books are:

Adept Series (urban fantasy):

Hammer of Thor

Agent of Artifice

Book of Death

Gods of Strife

The Terror of Tombstone

Treasures of Space Series (science fiction):

Treasure of the Black Hole

Treasure of the Pirate Planet

Treasure of the Rogue Moon

Chumba of the Intelligence Corps Series (science fiction):

Smugglers of Mars

The Three Species War

The Urlotian Spheres

My third person narrative books are (all science fiction):

Rock Killer


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