Tink...tink...tink...anyone out there? Hi! I'm Barbara Donlon Bradley - Author - editor and slightly crazy - ask anyone in my family. I hope to use this blog to talk about writing, editing and whatever pops in my head. Hope you enjoy.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Writing Down the Bones: First Person Vs Third Person

When you start your manuscript you need to ask yourself if you want to write in first person or third person. Although most fiction works are written in third there are a few exceptions. Murder mysteries are well known for being in first person.

There isn't a steadfast rule that says you must write in third person. I think most of us do it because it is easier to switch between your main characters when you want to switch the point of view.

But if you're going to write in first person you have to stick with it throughout the scene (and most stick to the one character through the whole book) you're working on. Writing it all in first person then suddenly switching to third will confuse your reader.

I have noticed if you decide to write in first person you will learn point of view very quickly. You can only convey what is going on through the eyes of your character and no one else in that scene. POV purists will tell you that you have to do that with third person as well, but I have seen authors switch in the middle of a scene - in fact I'm guilty of it myself - if there was something I wanted to convey and it only takes one line I will switch POV's for that moment. It's a lot more jarring when you switch from first person to third person.

I know, you've read books by very famous authors who head hop all the time. Big name authors can break the rules, but those of us who are just starting out shouldn't. Publishers want a clean manuscript. They don't have the time to teach an author the art of writing and if your story is good but needs a lot of editing and there is another manuscript that is good but doesn't have to be cleaned up that much guess which one the editor is going to buy?

The decision to write in first or third is up to the author. It depends on how you want to convey the story. Once you decide though stick to it. Don't confuse your readers, your editor or yourself by switching back and forth.




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