[Discussion] First-Person vs. Third-Person

Today I wanted to discuss a little about the difference between first- and third-person, and why I think they both have their advantages/disadvantages.

On the one hand, I’ve been a first-person lover for a long, long time. We wrote our fantasy series, THE PENDANT TRILOGY, in first person. For example, there are lines like this:

“I continued to smile graciously. I knew she sold amazing houses, but her tea was bitter and watery. I gulped it down before I could spit it out, and then set it down on the living room table.” – pg. 28 of THE GEMSTONE, copyright 2012

Here, the main character, Arica Miller, is reflecting upon her aunt’s “bitter” and “watery” tea. Immediately, we get a sense of judgement from the main character. Perhaps to her aunt, the tea tastes fine, but from Arica, it tastes terrible. That’s a sort of judgement that goes along with the first POV.

On the other hand, we’ve been reading more and more books lately in the third POV. Some of our favourites include the FALLING KINGDOMS series, WOLF BY WOLF (review here!), and THE WRATH AND THE DAWN. (All reviews have been linked.)

As we’ve been reading more and more books in the third point of view, we’ve realized how many more liberties you can take with the narrative. For example, you can have a book with multiple narrators (not that you can’t do that with first person, but it’s perhaps seen done more often in the third), surprise narrators (i.e., books like A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC or THE CROWN’S GAME), and more.

We’ve been more and more interested in writing in the third person, too. Our latest finished manuscript was written using the third person. And we find that, sometimes, we prefer books by the same author that are written in the third person vs. the first person. I.e., Sarah J. Maas’ THRONE OF GLASS series is written in 3rd POV. Meanwhile, ACOTAR is written in first. I vastly prefer Maas’ writing style in the third vs. the first, but that’s just my opinion. Especially when it comes to high fantasy, I find that working in the third person can come across a bit more formal and fitting for such a different world. Again, nothing bad against first-person (we still love it!), but we’ve been exploring third POV more and more, and found that it’s really quite unique once you dig into the characters’ motives and begin to unravel the story.

So, which do you prefer? First or third? First can probably come across as easier to connect with in the end, though we think we’re leaning more toward third at the moment. However, both are amazing, and whichever way you decide to go with your upcoming WIP is up to you!

Until next time

-S&S

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8 thoughts on “[Discussion] First-Person vs. Third-Person

  1. Kourtni @ Kourtni Reads says:

    I tend to connect better with characters when the book is written in first person but I think there are definitely some advantages to third person. I think the biggest advantage is that readers can know things that the characters don’t and that can add a lot to the story.

  2. uptilmidnight says:

    I prefer first person point of view. Although, I don’t mind third person point of view. I believe I connect better when the story is written from a first person point of view. Sometimes it’s nice to switch it up though!

  3. DrAwkto says:

    I like both narratives, however, I do not like it when there’s a switch between characters. It kills my flow and takes a while for me to get used to the switch of character POV. I’ll still attempt to read the novel, but it’ll take me a while to get into the novel that’s all. I remember when I started Game of Thrones, the bounce back between characters bothered me, but it was so well written and the plot intrigued me so much I kept on. I’m glad I was able to finish it off.

  4. Ali @ Arctic Books says:

    I definitely think there are pros and cons to 1st and 3rd person points of view. For first person, it’s easier to understand the main character and be more invested in the world, while for third person, I feel like the author can take more liberty in changing points of view between different characters, which I also like. Great post!

    • The Writing Duo says:

      Thank you, Ali!! I totally agree. But nowadays I’m paying more attention to how writers connect to their main characters in 3rd person (such as Harry Potter, Throne of Glass, etc.) thanks for stopping by!

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