Wednesday, January 29, 2014

1st or 3rd Person?

I read an interesting article on Nathan Bransford’s Blog the other day.  For those of you who didn’t read it, the link is right here.

He talked about how some critics have decided that first person narrative isn’t ‘serious.’  I’m not sure what makes it less serious, though to be honest, I occasionally find it a bit exhausting.  I don’t enjoy being so deep in someone’s head for so long.

Probably one of the biggest reasons why I’m not a big fan of first person narrative is that it’s been a long time since I’ve seen it done well.  Well, that’s not true.  I read a fantastic book a few weeks ago that did it well.  (Now that I think about it).  But I stick with what I said before.  There are very few books that I’ve read that makes me actually sympathize with the character rather than get annoyed.  (I’m not saying that I’m the leading expert on this, it’s just my opinion.)

Maybe it’s the genre that I tend to read.  I’m always drawn toward YA fantasy, and for some reason, there are quite a lot of books out there with very narcissistic main characters.  Characters who are ‘wronged’ and then spend pages with internal monologues about how hard the world is or how mean everyone is to them.  It gets tedious, and usually, I toss the book aside before I get to some kind of a resolution, which I hope ends with them thinking about something beyond themselves.

I’m not saying anything about first person, and if you’re planning on writing in first person, I applaud you.  It’s a voice that I don’t know that I’ll ever master.

When I first started writing my White WIP, it was all in first person.  And it was terrible.  Years later, when I came back to it and started working on revisions, I realized that it just didn’t feel natural to me.  I changed the entire story to third person limited and it was like the story unfolded out in front of me.  All of my stories since have been in 3rd person.  Mostly because that’s what feels more natural to me.  It gives me a chance to take a step back when I need to and to look at the big picture, rather than what’s in their heads all the time.

But that’s just me.  How do you feel about it?  1st or 3rd person?  Does it even matter?  And if anyone has suggestions for a 1st person novel written well, I’d love to hear it!