Saturday, August 22, 2009

Tip of the Day: Choosing first or third person...

Choosing first or third person...
By Brenna Lyons
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There are many rumors about why third person is a better choice, but what is the truth?

Myth #1: Editors don’t want to see first person, so don’t bother. You won’t sell it anyway.

Fact: Some editors say they won’t take first and mean it. Some mean they won’t take badly-written first person, so they weed out the crop by saying they won’t take it. Editors of mystery, chick lit, erotica, sci fi, fantasy, or horror are more likely to take first person than editors of romance subgenres.

Myth #2: First person is limiting, when compared to third person.

Fact: Well-written first person is no more limiting than deep third is. In either case, you are limited by what the character experiences and believes or knows, as well as personal filters. In fact, you should be able to convert first into third and back without losing anything. A talented author can switch first-person tellings or first with third to create a tapestry.

Myth #3: First person is lazy writing and not up to snuff.

Truth: First person is only as good as the author is skilled at writing. It’s just as easy to fall into the I, I, me, and then I trap (ignoring the sensory input and the surrounding world) in first person as it is to do so in third. In either case, focusing entirely on the character in a vacuum is poor writing.

At the same time, first person lends well to certain scenarios: he said/she said situations, the only witness to something, the only living witness to it, unique perspective, and a more palpable unreliable witness (though all characters, first or third, are potentially unreliable).

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