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