First vs. third person

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

Post by Monet_va »

It always irritates me when an author switches between the third and first person in a novel without there being a clear reason. Switching between the different styles just pulls me out of the stories, and as you say, I wish there was more of a clear reason why the author did this.

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Post by bluegreenmarina »

In general I prefer books written in the third person, just because we are typically able to get a more well-rounded perspective on the events that way. I would find it particularly challenging to read one with alternating perspectives throughout.

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Post by eastandalchemy »

Books that have shifting POVs definitely keep me on my toes when I'm reading. In this case, I felt as if the switch to first person added depth and necessary character development that would have been otherwise missing.

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Post by Rachel Lea »

I noticed that as well while I was reading Adrift and I was quite confused by it. It didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story, but I do wonder why the author made the decision to tell Steve and Myra's chapters in first person and everyone else's in third.
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Post by timd »

Personally, I prefer books written in the third-person style of narrative, but it can be effective to write in the first person narrative at times. Switching over to the third-person can be useful when a broader perspective is required for the detail behind the plot line. In this case I did find the changes slightly confusing, however.

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Post by iced_sunshine »

I think it depends greatly on how much information the author wants to reveal to the reader. First person is very limited and characters can only know what they experience first hand or what other characters tell them. With the third person, it's easy to explore other scenes and learn new information.

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Post by CambaReviewer »

I have read a book where two characters were written in the first person. When I first started reading, it was confusing and I had to keep going back to the beginning of the chapter to check whose narrative I was reading! Perhaps the author was experimenting with this writing style. I connect better with first-person narratives but for most books, it is usually one character that is written in the first person.

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Post by TalonFox »

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.
This is a really interesting perspective to what I also assumed was an error. I feel like on a personal level I feel like I would have found this frustrating in a book, but after thinking about it in a newer perspective I will go ahead and give it a go.
Thanks!

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Post by Helen_Combe »

First person gives a more intimate knowledge if a character while the third person feels removed. I would assume it’s a device to make the reader relate more closely to some characters than others.
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Post by Nadine Forsberg »

Maybe the writer felt that it was important for the readers to know what those characters were all about so you would not get the wrong idea of who they really are?

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Post by Scarlet Nicoll »

NL Hartje wrote:
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?
Couldn't agree more! But I wonder if its attention span affects, which does, the reader's focus may shift or probably break throughout the process?

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Post by Scarlet Nicoll »

At times, I hate the shift between them because they cause utter confusion with the flow of the story, but I do understand that when the author wishes to exaggerate a character's thoughts and perspectives its a better approach.

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Post by Robyn_original »

I agree, this was pretty confusing for me. It threw me off a bit, because I would get used to reading in the first person, then have to shift my perspective. Maybe it was deliberate, but I don't think I've come across it before and it was a bit distracting.

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Post by Harley-Panda »

I found it a little confusing, but as the story progressed I think I got 'used to' that style of writing. Generally, I prefer reading books that use either first or third (either the main character as first person and others as third person, or all characters as third person) not a mix of the two.

First person is great to explore the character's feelings and the links/friendship between the characters, but then you lose the ability to properly implore the inner emotions and thoughts of other characters - so I can understand why Charlie Sheldon may have wanted to have more characters in the first person.
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Post by Drmplant »

As the writer was omniscient with all the characters, the jump over to first person was unnecessary. I found it confusing and it broke up the flow of the story.

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