Should I write in first or third person?

by Marissa

Question: I've been having a lot of trouble with this lately I'm trying to write a book and I wanted it to be in first person but then I think about scenes that I want to happen and it seems like they should happen in third person but it's only a couple of scenes and I'm sure I could find away to make them first person so should I write in first or third person? Which one seems better and if it's first person then I would have two or three characters telling the story not just one?

Answer: Because every story is different, I can't really give you a definitive answer. It depends how you use your chosen method and how well it fits the story you are writing.

However, I'm guessing your reason for wanting a few scenes in third person, or told from a different point of view, is to create dramatic irony (where the reader learns about something that the main character does not). This is a common enough device.

One of the limitations of first person is that it's not always convenient to have main character present for every event in the story. So whether you are writing in first or third person, you may have to change points of view at times. The alternative is to have the main character and the reader learn what happened through some other device such as hearing a report, deducing what happened from evidence, eavesdropping, etc.

Of course, you can tell a story from multiple points of view. Bear in mind that if you write from a secondary character's point of view for more than just one or two scenes, they start to take on more than just a walk-on role. You may find they need their own storyline, their own character arc. This will take some of the focus away from your main character's story. Sometimes that's okay. It's just something you need to consider and decide on.

If you're having a hard time deciding, you might try writing two versions of the same scene or chapter - using a different style of narration for each. Then consider which one seems more effective. You could show both versions of the manuscript to someone whose opinion you trust and get their feedback.

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