Before I get into my personal preference, let’s touch on the different “persons” you can write from and make sure we’re all on the same page.
1st person stories are written from a single point of view–that of the protagonist. The reader gets to float around inside that persons head seeing all their thoughts and every experience from their lens. The easiest way to identify 1st person is by the pronouns. Everything is I, me, we.
2nd person tends to be reserved more for manuals than fiction, but on the rare occasion this point of view can be used. 2nd person is about making the reader the protagonist in their head. Identify 2nd person again by the pronouns. Everything is directed at “you.”
3rd person is all about the person being talked about in that scene. This allows the reader to experience scenes from a less person, more “fly on the wall” type of perspective but still through the lens of individual character or characters. The identifiable pronouns in 3rd person are he, she, it, they.
Okay, now that we have that down, I’ll share. While I’ve written all 3, I am definitely a 3rd Person fan as both an author and a reader. Here’s why…
Not a Manual
My degree was in Technical Writing–essentially writing instructions an manuals. After having written many, I don’t think I could ever write fiction from this POV. It would be too much like writing a manual.
Not Breaking the 4th Wall
I actually LOVE when a character breaks the 4th wall and talks directly to the audience in TV or movies (think Deadpool or House of Cards). However, it’s much easier to pull off in a visual medium. Readers do not like short, jerky POV switches, which makes this technique dang hard to pull off in written fiction. Not my cup of tea.
Heroine & Hero POV
I write romance. Therefore, I want, nay, I NEED to see both the hero and the heroine’s points of view. I love to see what they are both thinking and experiencing as they move through their character arcs. This can absolutely be done in 1st, but I find it more difficult. Maybe if each chapter is dedicated, but I find it comes off feeling…odd. Much easier from 3rd.
Insight into Multiple Characters
Same as with the above, I actually love to get scenes in secondary character POVs. Doable in 1st, but better in 3rd.
Less Angsty Internal Thoughts
This might be the Gen-Xer in me, but I find most of the fiction written in 1st Person POV these days is just…self-centered and whiny. All we hear are the character’s internal angsty thoughts and it’s very, me, me, me just by nature. I find 3rd person allows the reader to distance themselves from an overabundance of internal dialogue.
Now don’t get me wrong. I read plenty of books in 1st person and love them. 3rd just happens to be my preference. And yes, it probably dates me, but I’m okay with that. Lol. What about you? What’s your preference?
I am participating in MFRW’s 52-week blog challenge, and it’s a blog hop! If you want to see how other authors approach this topic, stroll on over to the other authors participating and find out how they deal with character profiles. Each author does it differently.
all good points. I never thought that my preference of third was due to my background which also includes technical writing.
I didn’t consider it until thinking through this blog post. But yeah, after writing manuals, I don’t think I could read fiction in 2nd.
I completely agree with you on the overabundance of angst and self-centeredness in first person POV.
My preference in both reading AND writing is definitely 3rd. Having said that, I have found a few books in 1st person that I love, but they are rare finds.