Friday, April 18, 2014

3rd Person? 1st Person? Which Way Is Best? - Question from a Writer

Can changing from third person pov to first person pov help improve voice? Recently I wrote in first person and feedback was great voice. The manuscript I am trying to get agented and published is in third person. In your opinion will changing the tense help the voice? 

This is a great question and one I am sure a lot of writers deal with. Of course, like everything else in publishing, there really isn't one right answer. 

Personally, I am of the opinion that first person is really a difficult voice to write in. I know a lot of authors take this approach, but I think it is simply because they can hear the voices of the characters better. Essentially when you take that first person approach, you are working with dialogue. But here is the real struggle. By writing in first person, you are eliminating all of that narration and world building that you would see in third person. You have to rely on the characters telling us what is going on and all of that back story. the hard part here is making it sound natural and nor forced.

The shift from first to third doesn't really help the voice of the story, it just brings in more of that narration and introspection. This approach just gives the reader a clearer sense of who the character is and what the character is thinking. 

I think the real answer here is not whether or not it will add more to the voice or enhance the voice. The real answer is what works best for the actual story. Remember that the story and the plot dictate the approach you take. You don't start off saying you are going to write in first person and then figure out the story. 

I would also add that publishers and agents are not going to reject a story because it is in first or third person. The story will be looked at for the merit of the writing and the concept. Of course, with that said, you should really examine the line, the publisher, the editor and/or the agent to see what their likes and dislikes are. For example, I am not against first person, but I do believe it is harder to write. that would determine if your story has the strength in premise, voice and style for what I am looking for. 

Hope that helps?

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