which person to write in

by Monica L. Stephens-Logan
(South. Charleston, OH)


The book is in second person but there are times when the heroine is telling a story about herself and family member. When she is telling about a family member is it correct to go back to second person? Example...

A.Maurice and Thmondi were anything but your stereotypical couple.

B.“Oh goodness,” Thmondi chuckled, a little nervous at the thought of digging up memories from her childhood. “I don’t even know what is behind all of my mood swings.


C.Squinting against the brazen sun Stephen flashed Rebecca a wickedly charming grin, “Woman, I know what you’re up to.

Response: I hate to break it to you, but all three of those examples you provided are written in third person. (In second person, you would be addressing the reader as "You." It's a very difficult way to write, and I don't recommend it.)

Now, if you have a character in your novel speaking, with their words in quotation, then that character will speak in first person, referring to themselves as "I." However, that does not change the fact that the book is still third person. Phrases like "she said" identify it so.

A novel written in first person would read like a letter to the reader, written by the main character. In other words, the narrator would refer to herself as "I" (without quotation marks).

I don't usually recommend Wikipedia, but in this case, its description of first, second, and third person narration may help you. Read the examples given.


Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

which person to write in question 2

by Monica L. Stephens-Logan
(South. Charleston, OH)

Thanks for responding Glen, I gave the wrong examples. A portion of my novel is in first person when the heroine is telling her childhood experiences.

Example:We were waiting not so patiently for Mom and Daddy to come in from their heated discussion in the bed room. No one was supposed to be talking because Daddy had hollered a booming, “Sit still and be quiet until me and your mother come to the table!”

Along with those relating her own past she relates her parent's past,for example:

Stephen changed from his work clothes in silence, he half expected Rebecca to protest, he needed her to ask him to stay but she only suppressed her thoughts.

Even though this passage is in third person: the heroine is telling this about her father. It seems like the first sentence should read Daddy changed....Mom to protest. Because the heroine was not there in every situation I thought third person would be best but What is the correct person to tell Stephen's story in if his daughter is telling Stephen's story to someone else?

If that makes any sense lol.

Answer: Okay, this question makes more sense.

If your heroine is relating this story, then she is still the POV character. So I think your instinct to stay with terms like "Daddy" is correct.

The problem I have is that, if your heroine was not present for these events, how does she know enough about them to relate such intimate details? Are they stories that were told to her? How can she know what her father's thoughts/feelings were, or that her mother "suppressed her thoughts"? (Maybe you have an explanation worked out. I ask just in case you don't.) These details do not seem to fit with a child's perspective.

Even if her mother and father told her the story years later, if she is doing the telling, then it's still her POV and I would think she wouldn't be quite so certain about their inner thoughts.

I think what you're doing is mixing a little omniscient narration in with your limited POV - which is a no-no because it confuses the reader.

Of course, you could change POV characters and describe these events from the mother or father's perspective. Or you could decide to have an omniscient narrator throughout (at the cost of losing intimacy with the main character).

Or you could just stay out of the mother and father's heads and only describe what the main character perceives. (This would be my preference, but I don't know your story.)

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

which person to write in question 3

by Monica L. Stephens-Logan
(South. Charleston, OH)

Question: Again I thank you for your response, and yes, you've nailed my dilemma. My strong desire is to tell it from the parent's pov it reads more powerful that way but am at a lost how to do it correctly. Their story is from the past. One thing I did do was name their portion of the story after them but there is not enough substance for them to have a complete chapter name Rebecca and Stephen, or does that matter? Again thank you.

Answer: Of course, I don't know your story or how important this scene is to it, but it sounds like the kind of scene some people put in a prologue, where it can be told from a different POV.

Of course, some people don't like prologues (those who prefer to meet the main character ASAP), and prologues usually only work if they are describing the inciting incident or initial driver of the main plot.

However, you can find many successful books with prologues.

If this scene is not so important or is not the inciting incident, you have to ask yourself if the facts of it can be told in passing via exposition or if it can be cut altogether.

Again, I don't know your story well enough to give more definite advice. This is one of those painful choices writers have to make.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook

NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles

"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards

"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero