First Person, Third Person or Multi-vision?

What do you have to do first when you start a story? Decide what point of view you’re going to use of course! Some writers have it easy and know immediately their desired point of view. While others have it a little harder.

The default point of view is usually first person, because we live in a first person world. That’s what comes naturally, right? But that doesn’t mean it always works or is the best choice.

I had a lot of trouble deciding on what point of view I wanted to write in, but with a lot of research, reading of books, and time — a lot of time — I figured it out. I’ve attempted to put all my research together for others. I really hope it helps!

The three most common points of view, especially in YA novels, are first person, third person, (unlimited and limited) and first person multi-vision.

First Person( The I, we, me, my and us world.)

The following of one character throughout the story.

Example:

The Elite(second book of the Selection series)

For the first time in awhile, I felt a true shot of enthusiasm course through me, there was a project that would allow me to show off one thing that separated me from the others. I was determined to pour myself into this and hopefully produce something that might genuinely make a difference.

Pros:

  • You are limited to one mind, the narrator’s, and therefore can concentrate more on one perspective.
  • Feelings are usually deeper and more precise.
  • There’s more attachment to the main character.

Cons:

  • You are limited to what the narrator sees. There are many challenges to this, like for instance happening to stumble on the antagonists evil plan. This is common in many books and is considered bad writing.
  • The narrator must constantly be in the picture.
  • You can’t go into the minds or points of views of other characters.

 

Third Person( He, she, it, they, and them world)

In third person, there’s both unlimited and limited.

Third Person Unlimited:

The author or reader, can bounce from the mind of any character, giving them the ability to be in any setting.

Example:

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

In the protagonist’s head.

Running up the lane, Arthur had nearly reached his house. He didn’t notice how cold it had suddenly become, he didn’t notice the wind, he didn’t notice the squall of rain. He didn’t notice anything but the caterpillar bulldozers crawling over the rubble that had been his home.

And then bouncing to one of the other main character’s head, (well, heads because this character has two heads. It’s The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, don’t ask.)

Today was the day; today was the day when they would realize what Zaphod had been up to. Today was what Zaphod Beeblebrox’s presidency was all about. Today was also his two-hundredth birthday, but that was just another meaningless coincidence.

Pros:

  • You’re not as limited and can broaden your settings and points of view.
  • You can have different contrasting points of view that can be refreshing to you as the author and your readers.
  • More freedom and more objective.

Cons:

  • It’s easy to accidentally narrate as the author instead of as your characters.
  • You can confuse yourself and the reader unless each voice is distinctive.
  • You can mess with the story’s flow by switching point of view too often.

 

Third Person Limited:

The narrator only knows the thoughts and feelings of one character.

Example:

The Maze Runner

For several seconds, Thomas felt like the world had frozen in place. A thick silence followed the thunderous rumble of the Door closing, and a veil of darkness seemed to cover the sky, as if even the sun had been frightened away by what lurked in the Maze.

Pros:

  •  You can concentrate more on your main characters and your minor characters.
  • Without having to jump heads constantly there’s is less to keep up with.
  • You have more of an open, free world.
  • It’s easier to describe things without being monotonous.

Cons:

  • Follows one character like first person but you don’t get as much intimacy with the character.
  • Limited to the settings the main protagonist sees. (a lot like first person)
  • You’re limited to following one character

Multi-vision:

Okay, this one is very tricky and debated. Some writers don’t even consider this one as an option, but I’ve read books that pull it off really well and are very successful. Basically, multi-vision is like first and third person mashed up into one. You have multiple main characters that share their side of the story (like third person unlimited) but they tell it in first person.

This style of writing is not suggested for beginners because it can be difficult. And if it is used it’s suggested by many that you keep to two protagonists that switch off chapter-by-chapter telling the story. It’s quite common in romance novels but I’ve also seen it done in an action dystopian novel.

Example:

Legend

Day (the boy’s side of the story)

Suddenly I twist, and for a split second I’m free. Before he can react, I whirl, yank the gun out of his holster, and point it straight at him. The other two guards fix their rifles on me, but they don’t fire. They can’t do it without hitting the first soldier.

June (the girl’s side of the story)

Now I can’t help looking at his face. This is a boy who must’ve barely passed his Trial. But that doesn’t make sense. He doesn’t act like a desperate street kid. He has so many sides to him that I wonder if he has always lived in these poor sectors.

It doesn’t always have to be one boy and one girl telling the story but in this point of view, it’s very common.

Pros:

  • You can jump heads.
  • You get the intimacy of first person.
  • You get the open world of third person.
  • The relationships with your characters are more defined and feel more real.

Cons:

  • Each voice must be distinctive and different and this can be a bit more difficult.
  • The planning for your novel is more challenging.
  • You have to learn when and how to switch viewpoints.
  • You must always make it very obvious which voice is speaking so as not to confuse the reader.
  • There’s more to keep up with for the author and reader.

 

You know, many suggest trying both third person and first person versions of your novel. If this doesn’t help, try a chapter of your novel in both third and first person. Whatever feels natural and comfortable, go for!

It depends so largely on the story and characters you’re writing. Whether first person, third or a mixture of both(multi-vision) write what your story calls for.

 

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