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Old 01-29-2013, 08:22 PM   #1
Ravenheart
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1st Person vs Third and POV Question

Ok, so I'm writing an urban fantasy/paranormal romance. The prologue is written in first person. The majority of the book is written in third person with the exception of character thoughts or telepathy with is written in first person in italic text. For a particular scene in the book which is a rather long one, possibly even an entire chapter, I want to switch to first person. Is there a hard fast rule against this? Looking for opinions and advice. I typically prefer third person but first person puts the reader in the shoes of the character which is my aim for this sequence. First person can be useful because characters can be so unreliable.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:28 PM   #2
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There are no rules to writing, only suggested guidelines.

Personally, I would feel cheated to open a book and read first person, and then it switches over to third for the rest. And, I would find it abrupt to have it change to first for no good reason.
I don't like multiple 1st, and always suggest to keep in 3rd throughout.

A deep third can match a first if done right. And to create a unreliable third, you just have to tweak your narration to lie to the reader (I do it all the time and no one notices).
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:42 PM   #3
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I agree, as a reader it would be hard for me to go from reading first, to switch abruptly to third. In saying that though, I haven't read it so maybe the transition is smoother than I am imagining.
Is there a reason you are doing it that way?
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:44 PM   #4
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Thanks! Hmmmm... Thinking about re-writing the prologue but I'm curious to see the input I get on it along with the first chapter in SYW (once I'm allowed to post there). I think you're right... Sticking to third since the rest is written that way is the right thing to do. I'll just confuse readers otherwise. I'll just have to look at it a little differently to go with an unreliable approach. Thank you so much for your help!
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:45 PM   #5
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I agree with WillSauger, switching from first to third and back again will most likely throw people off if not completely turn them off. You can accomplish almost everything you can do in first person with a close third person, so I really don't know why you would need to change. That being said, it's your novel and ultimately up to you. If you think it is needed and you want to do, all the power to you, just be aware that it may throw some people off.
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Old 01-29-2013, 08:48 PM   #6
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Talking

Yes... The prologue actually skips ahead several months in the story chronologically and I wanted to mess with readers heads a little bit using POV. Then chapter one goes back to tell readers the beginning to the story of how it all starts.

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Originally Posted by teeta6404 View Post
I agree, as a reader it would be hard for me to go from reading first, to switch abruptly to third. In saying that though, I haven't read it so maybe the transition is smoother than I am imagining.
Is there a reason you are doing it that way?
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:04 PM   #7
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Nothing will throw the reader off if you do it right.

In this case that means, having a clear reason for wanting two chapters out of entire novel to be in 1st instead of 3rd. And being able to handle both PsOV. Some writers are naturally better at 3rd, than they are at 1st or vice versa. If you have both in the same book any shortcomings between the 1st/3rd will be more obvious.

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Old 01-29-2013, 09:29 PM   #8
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I think the rule is, if you do something, do it well. Without reading it, my guess is it would be jarring. But when you can post in SYW, post it and see how it works for your specific novel.
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Old 01-29-2013, 09:48 PM   #9
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Thanks!

It's nice having some place to ask questions without feeling like an idiot.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:23 PM   #10
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Without actually reading it, I’ll say it would throw me off to go from first to third after the prologue. Then, after I’m thinking that it will be third forever, you switch to first and then back again! Most likely, I would just ask myself, “What?”

Personally, I would stick with third all the way through. Third can accomplish the same thing as first; it is entirely possible to get the reader into the character’s head with third.
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Old 01-29-2013, 10:31 PM   #11
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I just wanted to add that there's no reason third person can't be just as intimate as first person; that seems to be a common misconception. You can use third and still be fully inside a character's head, experiencing every little thing that they're experiencing and knowing all their thoughts. It's all a matter of how you write it.

And yes, although I'm sure there's always an exception that works, it's probably better when you want to use multiple POV's to write them all in third person.
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Old 01-29-2013, 11:32 PM   #12
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I'm a little jarred when such the point of view shifts dramatically, but none of us here are typical readers.

It's like all the writing rules: you're allowed to break them if you don't get caught.
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Old 01-30-2013, 12:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ravenheart View Post
I typically prefer third person but first person puts the reader in the shoes of the character which is my aim for this sequence. First person can be useful because characters can be so unreliable.
As a reader, I would find this arbitrary and annoying, both the prologue in first-person (why?) and the one scene (again, why?).

You can put the reader into the head and shoes of a character in third-person, too. To suddenly switch to first because it's easier strikes me as the lazy way out. Sorry.
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Old 01-30-2013, 02:57 AM   #14
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There are no hard and fast rules about anything in writing.

But I think when you switch from first to third person, you draw attention to how it's written in a way that switching between different POVs in third person doesn't do, and it may pull the reader out of the story.

I've read exactly two such books. And yet every week or two someone posts a question on AW asking if they can use first and third person in a single novel. It's not wrong, but it's a very unusual choice in published books and needs to be done for a good reason.
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