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Old 02-01-2013, 12:36 AM   #1
DizScare
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Question How to deal with a "third person" person.

Having a character speak in third person. Is it a bad idea?
I thought about having a shy, awkward girl who refers to herself in such a way,
but I've begun to think it might make for confusing and/or redundant dialouge.
For example:

"'Amy doesn't know,' said Amy" or "'Amy doesn't know,' she said"
Should I just drop the idea of a third person character entirely?
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:41 AM   #2
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I actually know someone who does this, but reading it may get kind of annoying after a while. Would it be something she does constantly or just at certain times? Is she the main character or someone who only appears occasionally?
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:41 AM   #3
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It is an affectation that most people would find very odd. IMHO you would need a good reason for it.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:48 AM   #4
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Well to answer your questions, she'd be a minor character and she would stop after
she gained a little confidence.
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Old 02-01-2013, 12:52 AM   #5
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Hmmmm.... I'm an MTS reader so would immediately assume she has some sort of personality disorder.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:00 AM   #6
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DizScare.

A character speaking in third person about herself indicates a deep disconnection with self. It seems to me that this type of character cannot just stop talking this way after gaining some confidence.

If she's minor, it will not matter why she stopped because readers are generally not interested in minor characters. Sure. they advance the story, add color, etc., but their changes are irrelevant. We care about the characters who actually carry the story.

I would agree with Vienglory that you must have a good reason to have a character refer to herself in third person. In my opinion, a minor character with lack of confidence is not enough.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:06 AM   #7
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Personally, I would be extremely annoyed if I had to read that for too many pages. However, it wouldn't be so bad if there’s a good in-story reason for it. I don’t think just being shy is a good enough reason for her to speak like that.

The dialogue tags will be redundant if you do them like your first example. You probably won’t need the “...said Amy” after you’ve established with the reader that Amy talks like that. Trust in the intelligence of your readers !
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:13 AM   #8
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I think I get it. If DizScare has a character who spoke in third person, then that character
would need a logical excuse for it. Not only that but that person would need to be involved more to have that excuse explained. I think I'll just drop the idea. I'm sure I'll come up with something else.
Thank you for your help.

...he said.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:48 AM   #9
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While what you want to do is a challenge, one of the useful benefits is that once it's established that she talks in 3rd person, you don't have to do the "she said" or "Amy said" because she says so in the dialogue. You won't need to many markers.

You don't need to say "Amy is hungry," Amy said. You can just say "Amy is hungry."

I think what you want to do is a challenge, and might be hard to pull off without it becoming annoying, but that doesn't mean that it can't be done creatively. It can come to good effects.
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Old 02-01-2013, 03:21 AM   #10
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I dunno. I have a self-aggrandizing pimp/drug lord character who often refers to himself in third person. But, you know, he's a self-aggrandizing pimp/drug lord. It would be kind of weird if he didn't go third-person once in a while.

But for the type of character you're talking about...yeah, that's a real self-disconnect. I'm not sure "shy" is really a good explanation for that, once a character has advanced past about age five. JMO; I have no expert knowledge in this subject, but I'd be worried about and maybe a little creeped out by a teenage girl who refers to herself this way.

(Actually, it reminds me a tad of SUDDENLY, LAST SUMMER, where the heroine, Catharine, begins to write her diaries/refer to herself as "she," as in "She slept well last night," after witnessing her cousin being cannibalized by starving local teenagers he was attempting to lure into his bed. It's a one-act play but they made an absolutely spellbinding movie out of it, starring Elizabeth Taylor and Katharine Hepburn. I highly recommend it.)
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Old 02-01-2013, 08:02 AM   #11
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I watch way too much TV .

Your situation/question immediatly reminded me of that Seinfeld episode with Jimmy the guy who endlessly talks about himself in the third person. Hillarious episode, but in a book, personally, I would probably get tired of it very very quickly. But, obviouslly that is a matter of personal taste, as other than that one Seinfeld episode I can't stand characters/people who talk this way in life and entertainment

(and even Jimmy got annoying pretty quickly...but I guess that was the point)
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:44 AM   #12
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It would probably bother me. Then again, I've read two of Stacia's books, and the character she mentioned has never bothered me by doing this.
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Old 02-01-2013, 09:59 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mirandashell View Post
Hmmmm.... I'm an MTS reader so would immediately assume she has some sort of personality disorder.
Interesting. I immediately wondered if the character had a personality disorder as well. My work with at risk kids certainly clouds my judgement. In fact, it is often helpful to speak to a child with attachment disorder in the third person, because speaking directly to them can further upset them.

To Jane: "I think Jane might want to make a more positive choice right now, because Jane is really looking forward to going on the outing."

It makes me feel like a ninny to talk that way, but it helps.

The people in my life who were merely shy or lacking confidence is some way simply avoided situations where they had to speak, and had nervous physical and vocal behaviors when they could not avoid it.

That does not mean to say that OP can't make it work. Clever writing can make anything work.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:33 PM   #14
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I'd think you'd have to have a deep reason for it, not just a bit of a character quirk, because it's going to be just as irritating in a character as it is in real life (unless played for laughs and even then it's a combination of funny and annoying if it goes on for a while.)

That's not a reason not to do it though. People do it in real life. And characters do irritating things all the time, but if the character is interesting enough the reader still reads on anyway.
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Old 02-01-2013, 01:39 PM   #15
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Former Presidential candidate Bob Dole was fond of using this fetish.

It didn't help him get elected.

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Old 02-01-2013, 02:48 PM   #16
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I think it's okay as long as it's a minor character who only makes a few appearances and you have the other characters react to it. In my WIP, I have a loan shark who does this sometimes, and my MC secretly judges her for it. I don't think an explanation is necessary unless you want to give one.
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Old 02-01-2013, 04:58 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blacbird View Post
Former Presidential candidate Bob Dole was fond of using this fetish.

It didn't help him get elected.

caw

And that says it all.


And to add: there was this terrorist murderer, Colin Ferguson, I think it was, who was defending himself during his trial and he would always talk about himself in 3rd person. I watched the reports and he was getting on my nerves, so I had to turn off the TV. I listened to a song I hate, "Chumbawomba," and for the first time ever, I loved the song. Exactly. Like in order to justify this your character has to have some sort of mental illness or something because people always use first person when talking about themselves.
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Old 02-01-2013, 05:14 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JulianneQJohnson View Post
Interesting. I immediately wondered if the character had a personality disorder as well. My work with at risk kids certainly clouds my judgement.
I am often aware of how much what I read colours my view. I read a lot of MTS so, when meeting a character, I class them as killer-victim-hero-sidekick almost automatically. And I love it when I'm proven wrong!
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