I naturally (and easily) write in first person; however am I cutting myself off from giving other characters "the mic" as it were? I'm experimenting with 3rd person and it's awkward at best. Are there any benefits to writing in 3rd?
I think the most obvious benefit of using 3rd person is that the reader more easily feels he/she can identify himself/herself with your characters. I also sense that editors/publishers regard the use of 3rd person more professional. And having said that I think that it depends on the story. Some stories work in 1st person and some in 3rd person. I use both and in my collection of short stories where there are 8 short stories (I think) - 3 of them are in 1st person and 5 of them are in the 3rd. Keywords are intensity and flow.
J.K Rowling has made billions of dollars writing in 1st person, also Deanna Raybourn writes her Lady Julia Grey novels in first person and I find them witty and refreshing and I don't feel cheated of anything in my experience with the novels. I think as far as your writing you should do what you are most comfortable doing it will show in your tone and prose if you are awkward with 3rd person. If you invision your stories being told in 1st person then write it. It will be genuine and most likely have better flow. Go with your gut I find that's the best policy. I write in 3rd person because I see the story being told that way, but I love to read novels in first person.
Have you read the Harry Potter books? Because they're in third person. What they call "limited POV," because most of the time, it's from Harry's perspective, plus some "omnipotent" type background scenes and narration. Just FYI. Unless there's another billionaire JK Rowling? ;)
Otherwise, I'm in total agreement, it's what works for the writer and the story. :)
Diana Gabaldon (historical romance-NYT Bestselling Author) writes in first person, too. But she will switch in some chapters to 3rd. It works well. I've heard writing in first allows a reader to experience all of the action, thoughts, feelings from the POV of the hero/heroine and makes them feel closer to the action/experiences. I think it works that way when I'm reading from 3rd person as well. I like to know what the other characters are feeling from that POV. In my novels, I write in first person, but have found it necessary to include a chapter or two in third to give a reader a more rounded perspective of the characters when my heroine is not in the scene. I do agree with what Krista says below, to go with your gut and write what flows most naturally for you in your writing.
I think we expand our skills when we learn to write in different perspectives.
I wrote my first novel in first person. It was natural for me and for the character, and it served the story. Yet it definitely limited me as to how I could convey information to the reader, because I could only tell them what my main character could know.
I'm working on a second novel now, and third person suits the story better.
Everyone here is correct. What serves the story is key.
It really depends on the work, I think. After 40 years, I realized that the reason my epic historical romance wasn't working was because I was limiting the viewpoint to my heroine. When I said, "What would Tolstoy do?" I realized that he was in everyone's heads! I didn't go that far, but I did go into the heads of my major characters when they were in her presence. This filled out her personality and theirs and was the magic fix. Try making an arc for the characters you are writing in 3rd person on notecards, scene by scene and you will become more familiar with them. Third person can become as intimate as first person if you have inner dialogue occasionally.
Thanks Ladies!! I think I know the direction I want to go in possibly with 2/3 voices the heroine, her sis who and partner in crime solving and the victim who as of right now is alive :)
I've written in 3rd person, but it was a long time ago, and it was only a short story. My readers said that it felt like I was still writing in 1st person. I guess I was doing it wrong. I still haven't gotten out of my 1st person comfort zone...yet.
Great Blog! Thanks for sharing!!
I have always written in the 1st person for some reason, it has always just felt natural to me. Writing in the 3rd person has always felt stilted and forced and the writing never flows. I do understand the limitations of 1st person narration though, maybe that is why I have never managed a full-length novel.