Thursday, November 8, 2012

Guest Post: Third Person vs. First Person

Please welcome Emi Gayle, author of the great young adult paranormal romance, After Dark. Take it away, Emi!

Third person vs. 1st person ... that is the question.

Does it really have to be one or the other?

Sure, in the real world, a single book is written in a single person - either 1st, 2nd or 3rd, though 2nd is not used nearly as much as 1st or 3rd.

And by reader-base, there seems to be a mix. I’ve seen crime novels in 1st, YA books in 3rd and romance in both. Some have said romance should always be 3rd, but who are they to say?

In reality, a writer writes what they are comfortable with ... what they engage with themselves. I love 3rd person books. I read them, so I write them. But I also love 1st person books ... I read them so I write them too.

From a marketing perspective, though, I’m told that readers don’t like it when a writer they come to love shifts person ... so someone who typically writers 3rd, writing 1st is ‘just plain weird’. Vice versa applies, too.

How then can someone who loves both fulfill both needs and preferences?

Well, like me! I write 1st person for the YA crowd and my atler-ego writes 3rd person for the adult crowd. Yep, the best of both worlds. This is why After Dark is writting in 1st person - because it’s for the YA crowd.

Though the switch back and forth is not easy. The nuances of writing each are very different -- almost taxing a part of the brain some of us would rather not do.

Like in 3rd person, I can switch to another person’s perspective to show off part of the story. In 1st person, I have to stick to the one person who’s telling the story. In 3rd, there’s omniscient opportunities (though I personally don’t like these) where as in 1st, the reader can only know what the speaking character knows. See? Nuances.

That, though, makes the challenge of writing a good book even more fun. If you’re competitive like me, this is the perfect way to stretch those mental muscles and learn to write in multiple ways.

Try it sometime. You might find that you like writing in both and that depending on the story, the ‘person’ really fits.

Book details:
What eighteen year old Mac Thorne doesn’t know will probably kill her.

In exactly eight months, five days, three hours and thirteen minutes, Mac has to choose what she’ll be for the rest of her life.

She has no choice but to pick. As a Changeling, it’s her birthright. To Mac, it’s a birthchore. Like going to school with humans, interacting with humans, and pretending to be human during the pesky daylight hours.

Once darkness descends, Mac can change into any supernatural form that exists — which makes her as happy as she can be. That is, until Winn Thomas, the biggest geek in her senior class figures out there’s more to what hides in the dark than most are willing to acknowledge.

In this first of the 19th Year Trilogy, Winn might know more about Mac than even she does, and that knowledge could end their lives, unless Mac ensures the powers-that-be have no choice but to keep him around.

Winn and Mac were perfect for each other in every way possible. It was like two magnets finally finding each other and connecting.” — Good Choice Reading

Awesome beyond awesome! For lovers of YA Paranormal, this is a MUST READ!!!” — Romancing the Book

Talk about can't put down...I accidentally opened this one instead of the book I was scheduled to read. Made the mistake of reading the first paragraph -- and I have not been able to put my iPad down since!” — Parajunkee


Buy links:
Barnes and Noble

Author details:
Emi Gayle just wants to be young again. She lives vicariously through her youthful characters, while simultaneously acting as chief-Mom to her teenaged son and searching for a way to keep her two daughters from ever reaching the dreaded teen years.

Ironically, those years were some of Emi's favorite times. She met the man of her dreams at 14, was engaged to him at 19, married him at 20 and she's still in love with him to this day. She'll never forget what it was like to fall in love at such a young age — emotions she wants everyone to feel.



  1. I have no problem with 1st person even for adults, but I hear it's frowned on as being amateurish, but what the heck! I don't like 3rd omnisicent as it ends up being a worse head hop than 3rd limited.

  2. Well met, Emi! Excellent points too; I tend to lean towards 3rd-person for epic fantasy, but I find that urban and contemporary fantasy does better in a 1st person setting.


  3. As a reader I totally prefer one person's point of view throughout but of course there are always exceptions! Take care

  4. Most of what I read is third person (limited) and that's what I write. First person would be weird for me as I don't want to be that much in my character's head! (I am definitely not my main character, Byron.)

  5. I generally write third limited but occasionally I write first. I've never paid attention to the genres though. I just write how the character talks to me.

  6. greetings to Emi and congrats on her book

  7. Reader expectations in POV is a great point! I love close third, but I also love 1st. And I'm about to switch it up, yet again, as I move on to the new WIP, so now I'm off to put on the thinking cap.

    Great post! Thanks so much for sharing,


  8. After Dark sounds awesome! As for POV, I love 1st, and generally read and write in it as much as possible. I like the connection with the characters in it. There have been plenty of books I've loved in 3rd, but I must admit my hearts on 1st :)

  9. I read a book in which the author, who had written in first person a novel I really enjoyed, wrote a book from two pov's -- one first, one third. It wasn't my favorite by any stretch, but the narrative was engaging enough that I got to the place where I overlooked it. It was an interesting creative choice.

  10. Sounds like a fascinating read! I'd definitely read that. :)

    I always was a staunch 3rd person writer, though DEEP 1st person so I could include the thoughts. That was until my agent asked me to rewrite my novel in 1st. Now...I am a staunch 1st person writer! (I was masquerading as a 3rd person writer all along.) :)

  11. I usually write in third because that's what I enjoy reading but at some point I'll probably write a story in first just to see if I enjoy it.


  12. Great post, Emi! I'm more comfortable writing in 3rd, because it makes it easier to describe the action and move the plot along. I'll have to challenge myself with writing in first person one of these days.

  13. I usually write 3rd person limited, but have tried shorts as 1st person and will probably write a future series in 1st. I think it's OK to switch in different series. But I wouldn't during a series.

  14. I find it difficult to write 1st well - I always sound phony. Maybe with practice!

    I love the phrase 'birthchore' - so expressive!

  15. I've always liked to write in third, but after reading this, am thinking I need to mix it up a bit. Nice to meet you, Emi! Linda, thanks for hosting!

  16. Nice to learn about Emi's book and hear her POV on POV. I've written in many POVs. Each manuscript comes out the way it wants to. Hopefully that won't become a problem later.

  17. I must admit I'm going through this dilemma right now and I'm not much clearer on what to do. Writing first seems to appeal to the YA crowd, but I love third. Oh, bother. Thanks very much for sharing your reasoning with us. Maybe I'll take a whack at first...

    1. I've seen plenty of YA books written in third person. So I think it depends, in this case, on what the story calls for.

  18. I really have no preference when it comes to reading. I enjoy both. But not in the same novel. For some reason I find that somewhat jarring.

  19. I've used all the persons except for 2nd. I also like to use different tenses. I think challenge is a good thing in a writer's arsenal. Thanks for a great post, Emi. Hi, Lynda!

  20. Thanks for introducing us to Emi and best wishes for After Dark. And I prefer Third Person, but First Person is okay.

  21. Great post. :)

    1st doesn't have to be limited to only 1st. I read a crime novel in which the detective (MC) was written in 1st and the criminal (or any chapter not including the detective) was in 3rd. It worked because the author separated it by chapter.

    Romance is usually in 3rd so we can get in to both the hero's and heroine's heads (which I definitely prefer), but I've also seen one done in 1st from two perspectives, also dividing it by chapter, in this case alternating from one to the other.

    It doesn't matter to me as long as the author makes the switch clear and sticks to a predictable pattern.

    What I DON'T like is omniscient, even a smidge. I prefer close 3rd or 1st. If you make a 'she didn't know it but...' statement, you'll pull me out of the story and make me grit my teeth.

  22. I write MG in third person limited and YA in first. I enjoy both. They both have their benefits. I'm not a fan of third omniscient. It can be confusing if not done right.

  23. Great advice, Emi. I write MG in third person. The YA book I started is in first person. I am enjoying both the styles. Hope I will do justice to them.

  24. Sometimes it's hard to choose which voice to write in. In my current manuscript, I wrote the first draft in third person. My critique group suggested I try first person, and it worked so much better. It really brought the protagonists to life!

  25. I enjoy writing in both first and third POV. Great post. Love the cover of Emi's book.

  26. I've written in both first and third, and read both too-- I enjoy reading and writing both, too. I think it depends on the book which works best.

  27. Really? Because Game of Thrones constantly shifts between character views and people still love the books.

  28. I like to write in both, but must say the majority is in 1st. Most of my "bonus material" is in third to show a different perspective from a unique character in the book.

  29. Interesting thoughts on writing in 1st POV for YA and 3rd for adult. Good luck with the book, Emi.

  30. I enjoyed reading this. Most of the books I read are written in third person and I write in third person. Many of the thrillers I read are written in third person except for the chapters written in the villain's POV which is written in first. I like reading books written this way, but have not attempted to write this way.

  31. After Dark sounds wonderful. I switch it up on the POVs depending on the story. I think my fave is closed 3rd.


I'd love to hear your opinion. Thanks for leaving a comment.