Friday, August 06, 2010

POV: Why you should write in the Third Person.

POV is an interesting topic, especially since so many people have widely different ideas on why a writer should use one perspective over another. As writers, I'm certain you've heard all of the arguments, and if you've taken ANY writing classes, I can assume that you know the various levels of third-person narrative. I'm not going to talk about all of the artistic purposes of third-person POV today, I'm simply going to tell you why I think you should pick third-person over first-person in your novel.

Third-person offers many advantages over first, regardless of how close you stick to the protagonist. My personal favorite is that, if the story calls for it, the author can switch to a new perspective.

There are several examples that can be made, such as Butcher's CODEX ALERA where he follows three or four protagonists (depending on the novel) and gives the reader brief flashes of the characters' thoughts. At times, he'll even step back to give the reader an view of the scene from an eagle's eyes.

Third-person can make it easier to draft a story, too. At least in my opinion. I've found that when I write in first-person, I need to keep myself in the protagonist's brain the entire way through the story. But in third-person, I have no trouble writing scenes the way I want them to be written. Going through and editing/revising is easier because I only have to tweak a few things before it's finished, rather than making sure that the protagonist's opinions and past experiences color the scene for the reader.

There are probably hundreds of other reasons to write in third-person, and I would LOVE to hear them. Please feel free to comment.

Some time next week we'll discuss first-person.

Have a good weekend!


  1. I've only done first person, and I get nervous at the idea of third person! But I see why for so many reasons it's a great POV. I'm kind of waiting for someone to smack me and say, "this must be 3rd person. Time to change!"

  2. I think it depends on the story you're trying to tell. There are times when something as limited and myopic as a first person view point is appropriate. However, I do think it's a lot harder to pull off correctly, and if one's in doubt, they should probably go with third person.

  3. Ariana, it's definitely subjective! And I wouldn't be fair if I didn't devote a post to first person and why to write in that POV :) Look for it later this week!