Wednesday, March 4, 2015
IWSG: do you usually write in first person or third?
This is a monthly event started by the awesome Alex J. Cavanaugh and organized by the Insecure Writer's Support Group. Click here to find out more about the group and sign up for the next event.
Let's talk about writing POV. I have written books both in first and third person. Second person is something I will not consider, though if you are curious, there are books out there. I've only read Halting States, by Charles Stross, and I admire the author for having the guts to write in second person. But it is hard to follow. So let's focus on third and first only for now.
I love first person because it allows me to get deep into the character's head and for me it is often the only way I can get his or her voice out. When you write a book you are not just telling a story, you are presenting a person to your readers. If you think of all the books you've loved they all had one thing in common: you could identify with the characters. You need a strong voice to do that a voice that's real and has personality. You need time to get to know your own characters so that their voice slowly comes out and for me the best way to do that is using first person.
Unfortunately, I've noticed many drawbacks of using first person. The most common one is that you are too immerse in the character's head and you risk saying too much. We don't need to know every thought, every bat of the eyelashes, every heartbeat of the character. So, often, zooming out and looking at things from the outside helps. I do that with third person.
In third person I am able to zoom out and parse better actions and thoughts so not to overwhelm the reader with "inner junk." However, in third person I have a harder time getting the voice out. So my strategy lately has been to start in first person to get the voice for the first draft and then switch to third in the second draft. Not efficient, but I'm liking the result so far.
What about you? Do you have a preference between first and third? Do you have a strategy?