First vs. third person

Use this forum to discuss the April 2019 Book of the month, "Adrift" by Charlie Sheldon
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evraealtana
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First vs. third person

Post by evraealtana » 02 Apr 2019, 11:00

Anyone have ideas as to why some characters were written in the first person, while others were written in third? I could see if one character - maybe Steve? - were the "main character" and the whole story was written from his perspective, with third-person portrayals of other characters as needed to carry the storyline. But then why was Myra also written in first person? And if it's to do with likability, connection to the story, etc, then why weren't William and Louise written in first? What distinguishes a "first person" character from a "third person" one?

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Post by TuyetMai » 02 Apr 2019, 23:14

Thanks so much for asking this question, this inconsistency confuses me as well. To me, first-person is characterized by the use of “I,” and third-person is characterized by the use of “He,” “She,” or “They.” Therefore, Myra's narration is the only one written in first-person, while the rest is written in third-person. I assumed it was an editing mistake when I was reading, but I'd love to hear what other people think of this.

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Post by Charlyt » 03 Apr 2019, 08:33

Perhaps using the third person gives readers a broader area of perspective (of the surroundings, circumstance, other characters) by using the main character of the chapter. And maybe using the first person allows the reader a more intimate insight of the character and what they are thinking. Like, maybe, it was important that the reader knows what Myra was thinking and feeling that it had to be delivered in the first person. I hope that made sense.
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Post by Kibetious » 03 Apr 2019, 08:37

I think Louise, Myra and William were also able to narrate in first person. Only the secondary characters were in the third person. This is my take not unless I have not gotten the question quite well.
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Post by vishu » 03 Apr 2019, 12:26

Personally, I like this kind of writing style. While writing in the first person provides you some much needed insights, writing in third person makes it possible for the writer to direct the flow of the story.

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Post by Brandy C » 03 Apr 2019, 14:30

The switch between writing styles usually confuses me. Personally, I enjoy reading in the third person. I tend to ditch the books written in the first person. In this case, I assumed it was written this way to make the characters more relatable. I'm not entirely sure about Myra but maybe it was essential for the readers to know what she felt. I usually characterize the first person with the use of ”I, me” and the third person with the use of ”he, she, they”. The author’s usage was easy to understand and it didn't take away from the story.
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Post by evraealtana » 03 Apr 2019, 18:20

TuyetMai wrote:
02 Apr 2019, 23:14
Thanks so much for asking this question, this inconsistency confuses me as well. To me, first-person is characterized by the use of “I,” and third-person is characterized by the use of “He,” “She,” or “They.” Therefore, Myra's narration is the only one written in first-person, while the rest is written in third-person. I assumed it was an editing mistake when I was reading, but I'd love to hear what other people think of this.
Steve was also written in the first person. That's what confused me - that it was two of them. One would have been easier to explain, but TWO?!

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Post by evraealtana » 03 Apr 2019, 18:23

Charlyt wrote:
03 Apr 2019, 08:33
Perhaps using the third person gives readers a broader area of perspective (of the surroundings, circumstance, other characters) by using the main character of the chapter. And maybe using the first person allows the reader a more intimate insight of the character and what they are thinking. Like, maybe, it was important that the reader knows what Myra was thinking and feeling that it had to be delivered in the first person. I hope that made sense.
I hear what you're saying. But the parts written in third person were omniscient; we hear what Louise, William, and Travis are thinking and feeling, even though it's written as "Louise was angry", "William thought of his grandmother", etc. I didn't see a need for some characters to be speaking themselves (1st) while others could be merely spoken about (3rd), since we get the same information either way. So confusing!

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Post by unamilagra » 03 Apr 2019, 23:20

I also wasn't sure why two characters were in first-person but the rest were in third. I didn't read Strong Heart - was Myra's character a first-person narrative in that book? In that case, maybe Myra was continuing to be first-person from that book, and then Steve, since Adrift is "his" story with his boat, is also added to the first-person narrative?

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Post by briellejee » 04 Apr 2019, 03:03

It also confused me as I like reading in first person. But, I think the author wanted to provide a variety of perspectives in the story. To be honest, I would have liked it if each character could have somehow contributed as a first person. I also agree in some people here that writing it in third person made the author take control of the story.
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Post by Prisallen » 04 Apr 2019, 16:55

I don't think I have read a book before in which some of the characters speak in first person and some of the story is told in third person. I wondered why he did this, at the beginning. It could have been confusing, but, the fact that he started each chapter with the person's name helped to keep straight who was talking in first person this time, and who the chapter was about. I thought it was very well written and was impressed by the unusual style, by the end.

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Post by briellejee » 05 Apr 2019, 04:24

Prisallen wrote:
04 Apr 2019, 16:55
the fact that he started each chapter with the person's name helped to keep straight who was talking in first person this time, and who the chapter was about.
Yes, I agree that the style was a bit confusing at first but then this aspect of the book was helpful while reading it. It certainly took a while before getting used to it though.
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Post by Prisallen » 05 Apr 2019, 07:05

briellejee wrote:
05 Apr 2019, 04:24
Prisallen wrote:
04 Apr 2019, 16:55
the fact that he started each chapter with the person's name helped to keep straight who was talking in first person this time, and who the chapter was about.
Yes, I agree that the style was a bit confusing at first but then this aspect of the book was helpful while reading it. It certainly took a while before getting used to it though.
Yes it did. I wonder if his previous books were written in the same style.

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Post by NL Hartje » 05 Apr 2019, 09:15

I think this stylistic choice must have been because he wanted to highlight the thoughts of certain characters. Aside from third person omnipotent, secondary characters thoughts are generally masked. Perhaps he just really wanted us to hear what they were thinking?
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Post by CatInTheHat » 05 Apr 2019, 09:48

Even though I usually find this kind of thing confusing, I really didn't in Adrift. I felt like the story still flowed well and that the first-person perspectives added dimension to the story.
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