Point of view

thoughts

1st person versus 3rd person.  Everyone has a different opinion on which is better with some going so far as not reading books written in a certain point of view.

In the past (as a child and into the teen years) I never really noticed the difference/paid much attention to the point of view the novel I was reading used to tell its story.  Potentially it could be my teachers didn’t really do a good job at pointing out the differences when I learned to read and analyse books.  Or perhaps the majority of the books I read were of one point of view so I didn’t get exposed to the other type as often.  Either way, it wasn’t until the past year or so I really started to notice the difference and form an opinion outside of classroom or familiar influences on which point of view I prefer to read and continued on my reading way.  

What got me thinking about this topic again was a comment I saw recently on YouTube by the user PixieTonic: “I think, in practice, a book is always more magical if we’re viewing it from above and not from the inside”.  In other words, 3rd person ‘from above’ is the better point of view to write in than from within the character’s mind or 1st person.  I found myself agreeing with them as 3rd person point of view stories have become my preference.

However, to be completely honest, there is to right point of view as certain stories need a certain point of view to be conveyed properly: some are better as 1st person, others as 3rd person.  It really depends on what the story is trying to portray and what themes and lessons the author want the impart on the reader.  1st person novels are good for a more personal story, say an autobiography or similar story, or to emphasize the inner workings, thoughts and discussions of the character.  3rd person is often better for fast paced books or ones that follow multiple characters.  Many stories can be told through either or both points of view.  In the end it’s a stylistic choice the author as well as the editor/publishing company have to make.  

Complicating this ‘issue’ of which point of view is the best to use is that some authors are better at writing in one point of view then another.  The reason why I am more likely to dislike a novel if it’s written in 1st person is because the novel isn’t written well and the struggle to coup with the writing style of the author takes away from the story they are trying to portray.  I feel as though 3rd person is more forgiving to writers whereas 1st person is amazing when written well but flops when it’s not and more often then not it flops.  

All-in-all I don’t refuse to read a book written in 1st person instead of my preferred 3rd person.  A few of my favourite novels are in 1st person and it would be sad to have missed the opportunity to read them based on the dislike of a stylistic choice of the author.  Yet, I have found myself resistant to start books or continue on with them after the first chapter or so when they are in 1st person and that is something I need to work on.  Don’t judge a book by it’s cover or the point of view it’s written in.  

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2 thoughts on “Point of view

  1. I used to write almost exclusively in first person, but in the past few years I’ve found myself preferring third person. I like that it gives me more freedom to explore different characters and aspects of the story; of course, one can write in multiple first-person POV, but I generally find that annoying. I agree, I think it’s more difficult to pull off a good first-person narrative––plus it limits your exploration of the story, since you can’t reveal anything your narrator doesn’t know/see.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Another good point! I never really touched on the fact that you – the author – are limited to what the character knows in 1st person. This can be great for stories with a mystery component where the author wants to hide things until the reveal but for fantasy (my favourite genera) there is often so much going on with or without a mystery in the plot that needs to be talked about so often 3rd person is the better choice.

      Liked by 1 person

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