Friday Fun – It’s all in the perspective

Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, writing-related question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.

QUESTIONWe’ve all familiar with different points of view – 1st person “I”, 2nd person “you”, and 3rd person “he” or “she”. Which do you prefer when you’re reading? Do you like to know what the character is thinking/feeling as it happens (1st person)? Do you want the author to pull you into the conversation (2nd person)? Or do you find yourself liking to be on a character’s shoulder (3rd person)? Why?

Lisa J Jackson writerLisa Jackson: For most reading, I enjoy 3rd person so I can know more about the characters and setting involved than what I get from a 1st person story. Second person is great for instructional material or something that is targeted to me personally, i.e. business-related. I’m not a fan of omniscient view point – that voice that knows all and tells all in a story, I always feel like I’m standing under a waterfall when I read omni POV – just way too much information flowing!

Head shot of Lee LaughlinLee Laughlin Hate to be a ditto head, but I agree with Lisa.  Third person allows me to take in the whole of the story.  First persoon can be good especially if the character structure of the story lends itself to confusion.

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Deborah Lee Luskin: It all depends on the story. There are narrative limitations inherent to first-person narration, but also an opportunity for establishing a clear and informative voice; the limitation is that the narrator must be present in every scene in order to report it. Third-person omniscient is at the other end of the spectrum, and very useful for direct and authoritative story-telling. And then there’s third-person internal, where the author speaks from inside the character’s head. I don’t require an author to use one over the other or prefer one method over another. Rather, I want to read the story and understand why the author made the choices she did. If she’s successful, then the point-of-view is an integral part of the telling.

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Wendy Thomas: It’s no secret that I’m a memoir junkie. Love to read first person and I love to write first person.  This, of course, doesn’t mean that I shun all other perspectives, not at all, give me a good third person and I’m there. It’s just that I feel most at home both reading and writing in first person.
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Susan Nye: I like them all. I am much more interested in the author’s mastery of language, tone and rhythm than who does the telling. I want a story that holds my attention and holds together from start to finish. As long as the story works, I’m happy with whatever perspective the author chooses.

11 thoughts on “Friday Fun – It’s all in the perspective

  1. I would actually prefer 1st person – It’s always nice to know what the narrater feels like . Besides , it even leaves you guessing about what the other characters are thinking ….

  2. I think this post will have lots of “dittoheads” – like me!
    I don’t have a preference and like Deborah, just want a good story and if the writing is outstanding, no matter what POV, I will be sucked in and feel satisfied.
    One of my favorite books of all time – A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – is written in third person narrative.
    POV is very difficult for me to decide as a writer. I’m still struggling with trying to decide on first or third for my creative writing. I have doubts either way I choose to tackle a story. Often, this comes through in my drafts too, and I find myself switching. It’s all very unconscious. I’m moving along and then I’m in my character’s skin, and then I’m back, and when I review my work later and see this I cringe. It’s a wretched weakness.
    Someone needs to write a post about that – but please don’t mention having a multiple personality disorder or you might get in trouble! haha

  3. I enjoy reading 3rd person, but I like to write in 1st person. I’ve also started experimenting with 2nd person. I think 2nd person is a little harder to write, but a lot more personal for a reader.

    Great questions and answers, ladies!

    🙂

  4. I have a preference for first person because it can be more challenging to write from the point of view of one character who may not have access to other parts of the story, hence the reader only discovering things as the narrator does. It seems like a natural way to add suspense and mystery. I also feel more connected to the character, albeit only one of them. There the saying, less is more. When telling a story in third person there may the temptation to give away too much information. With first person you have that restriction and extra care must be taken to tell the story well. Therefore, as a reader (without taking away from the efforts gone into third person stories) I can appreciate the skill and effort that’s gone into a story told in first person more than third person.

  5. I was writing in 1st person for a long time; and have since switched to 3rd. i like describing what is happening similtaneously with everyone, including the weather. i think 3rd person is what you see with your eyes closed regarding fiction.

  6. I haven’t thought too much about this and love the question. I think I prefer 1st person because it feels like you can really get to know that one character well…thanks for making me think! 🙂

  7. i like to write in third person as i write about quite emotional things and it gives me a little distance which is more comfortable, but i like reading books where the point of view can change from chapter to chapter.

  8. It depends on the story. If the author’s perspective is better told as if the author is talking to you, first-person does well. But the overwhelming majority of third-person stories speaks a lot for its virtue.

  9. Pingback: This blog received the Inspiring Blog Award ! « Up High Lullaby

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