The Problem with Third-Person Writing

My entire life, I’ve always disliked stories written in third person. However, if it’s fantasy, I dislike the writing in first. I’ve always been very picky with books.

The majority of books I read are contemporary coming-of-age/literary. Very few of them are written in third person, therefore I feel as if the genre doesn’t work with that particular point-of-view. So all my previous novels (I have them as drafts saved somewhere on my computer, and I will never retrieve them) are written in first person.

With my current project, The City Is Silent, I decided to break that little rule of writing in first person. It was easy. It was effortless. Most of all, you didn’t need to use words like, “Articulate,” Bigot” or “Ubiquitous.”

Something I noticed is the main characters don’t get my sympathy if they’re whining about their problems. When something’s written in first person, they kind of do whine. You have to, or else they seem detached so we don’t care either. If you make them whine too much, however, it’s a negative effect.

So I decided to experiment with third-person. None of that whining in first person, was the perspective the majority of classics are written in, and seemed like good practice for my description.  It was my own law I broke.

And it went quite well at first. Then I realised that, by not writing in first person, I didn’t observe Grace, my main character. I know everybody’s personality, everybody’s reaction like the back of my hand.

Grace, however, remains a mystery. I have to constantly ask myself what she’d do/how she’d react to certain areas of the story. It’s frustrating. Oh, and in my opinion, it’s difficult to “show” in third-person. First-person was so much easier.

So was it a success? Well, I tried a new type of writing-technique I wasn’t comfortable with at all. That must be some sort of achievement, right? But I think I’ll plan out Grace’s entire personality before placing a word more on paper.

Ah, writer problems are the worst. :P

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4 thoughts on “The Problem with Third-Person Writing

  1. I’ve experienced the exact opposite. Most of my books have been written in third-person. I write crime from multiple POV so third fits nicely with the style and the stories.

    When writing short stories, I prefer to use first-person. Last year I wrote my first book exclusively in first-person and I liked it. I think it’s good you experimented. I’m sure your writing will have benefited from exercise.

    Happy writing :)

    • Oh, you’re too lucky! :)
      Although I can see how mystery/crime works well with third person. It’s difficult with more contemporary “boring” genres, where the only distinctive thing is the voice of the protagonist.
      *sighs*

      Happy writing to you too! :D

  2. Pingback: Daily Prompt: Breaking the Rules | My Blog

  3. I think it’s great you’re experimenting with what works and what doesn’t. I ended up making a mess of things when I decided to change my POV from first person to third person. I wish I had thought over what would work best!

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