Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#1
Hello there! I started working on a small fantasy-tech series called </NecroCoder>. I've always heard 3rd person perspective is superior to 1st person when it comes to writing, so I decided to go with that.

My issue is that, with English being my second language, I find it hard to not keep repeating various pronouns ( he/she , his/her ) or calling the characters in bland fashion, based on a certain trait ( the young man, the teenager, the assistant, the tall man etc).

Could you provide me some insight on how to mend this issue? Is a 1st person perspective easier to depict? Since I've only written several chapters, should I revise them all in 1st person?

Thank you!
Link:
[url=https://www.royalroad.com/fiction/33220/necrocoder][/url]

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#2
I don't think switching to 1st person will help you with that particular issue, and 1st person has its own problems (e.g., using "I" all the time).

As for cutting down on repetitive pronouns, I'd recommend using google to look for ideas. There are a lot of suggestions out there (too much to list here) that may or may not work in different scenarios.

Some quick examples:
1. Combine sentences so you don't repeat the same pronoun in both.

2. Sometimes, you can reword the sentence to not require the pronoun. Try to leave some time in between drafts, so that when you come back for your second draft, you're looking at it with fresh eyes. (This will obviously be harder if English isn't your first language.)

3. Eliminate filter words. e.g., "He saw Joe enter the room." This should just be "Joe entered the room," at least if "He" is your point-of-view character. If you're writing in third-person limited, you can assume that anything that's perceived in the scene is perceived by your POV character for that scene. There are a few times when you might want to use a filter word, but only when it's important to emphasize that action. You might want to google "filter words" too, for a more in-depth look at them.

I hope this helps.

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#3
To increase your vocabulary, read English books. I personally learned a lot from Terry Pratchett. As an author he seemed to have enjoyed finding strange, unused words in the hidden corners of the English language in order to dust them off and show them to you, such as 'susurrus' (spellcheck doesn't even recognize it). Books aimed primarily at children and teenagers tend to have simpler language and yes, I absolutely count the Harry Potter series among those. It doesn't make them bad, they just won't help much to develop your language beyond what you already have - your grasp on the language is fine.

A bit easier to do may be a simple challenge to yourself - Try rephrasing any sentence several times, just as practice

lastly, here is a page with all kinds of words to describe things:
https://www.words-to-use.com/
From the weather to your eyes, a person or a building. Maybe it will help

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#4
Thank you for the tips, much appreciated! It seems like there's still a lot to learn when it comes to writing. From the reader's perspective, it always looks so easy :)

One more question: Could one combine 3rd person perspective with impersonal interjections ( something like: " As he got out of the carriage, his feet landed in soft snow. It was freezing outside!"

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#5
Firstly,

"With whatever viewpoint and voice you choose, you should exploit the possibilities of the viewpoint and voice you have chosen rather than feel constrained by its limitations."

Just like the words of Frey above, any of the two is fine. However, third person's view is more flexible to write with. 

Secondly,

Impersonal verbs are perfectly fine in third person writing.

"As he got out of the carriage, his feet landed in soft snow. It was freezing outside!"

Here, you used impersonal pronoun(it) and impersonal/weather verb(freezing), which connects well to the first sentence through (snow).

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#6
As a non-native writer myself, who is making his first serious (sort of) attempt in first person, I feel your pain.

I don't think the choice of first versus third person, or the choice of past versus present tense would make writing easier. There may be stylistic reasons to pick one over the other, but I wouldn't say any of these is easier to work on than the other. So, pick the one you feel most comfortable with, and stick to it.

To add some variation I've adapted the following approach, which might help:

1. Write a chapter the way you want it. Try to avoid repetition, but accept there will be some.

2. Now go back to the start (of that chapter, or perhaps go back two or three chapters) and look for typical mistakes.

In my case, for example, I screen for:

- Zpelling Erruers. Always a bad thing.

- Tense shifts. I hate those. Pick past or present tense, pick first or third person, and stick to it!

- Logical mistakes. For me, after spelling and tense shifts, this is major let down in many stories.

- Repetition of words and sentence constructions. Every time I find such a problem I look for synonyms.

- Stupid Dunglish / dutchisms, where my brain failed to spot something which made sense in Dutch, but not in English

- Punctuation. English punctuation is a bit of a mess, as the commas are placed following 20-odd rules, and you're allowed to deviate for clarity or style. They don't always reflect the pauses in spoken English. Grammarly spots quite a few, but don't rely entirely on it.

So yeah, although it's probably better to write the whole book first, then do a re-edit, I'm more or less forced to rewrite every chapter at least once, because I'm not a native English speaker.

One trick that helps is use a TTS tool (I use Voice Aloud on my android phone) whilst doing something else, like household chores, or when stuck in a traffic jam. You may spot mistakes you'd never find when 'reading your own work', simply because you're too familiar with it to spot the mistakes.

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#7
I think with pronouns overuse isn't necessarily a problem. While editing and reading your own writing, you'll be going through looking at each sentence in a way that highlights these repetitions. Readers tend not to read like that.

For example when reading a novel, words like 'he', she', and 'said', 'and', 'the', etc. tend to blur into the structure of the prose. These words will show up a lot in any piece of writing and I don't think it makes sense to worry about them too much.

Also, I agree with Ivy's part about removing filter words too.

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#8

SimpleCode Wrote: One more question: Could one combine 3rd person perspective with impersonal interjections ( something like: " As he got out of the carriage, his feet landed in soft snow. It was freezing outside!"



When writing in third-person, you can certainly include the character's thoughts. However, in the pattern you show here, you wouldn't typically include an exclamation point. That would be more common in first-person, but it's a little too close to the action for third-person thoughts when they're expressed through the narrative.

There are two ways to include the character's thoughts in third-person.

1. As part of the narrative, where you describe what he's thinking in line with the rest of the text. It's not necessarily the exact words he's thinking, but instead is written in a way to fit with the rest of narrative: As he got out of the carriage, his feet landed in soft snow. It was freezing outside.

However, note that this is an example of a pronoun that can be eliminated. Telling us what "his feet" are doing isn't necessary. Plus, "out" and "outside" are repetitive. Modified example: He stepped out of the carriage, landing in soft snow. The air was freezing.

(Although if this is a horse carriage, I'd wonder why he didn't notice the cold until he was outside. If this is a train carriage, that's not a problem.)


2. As internal monologue, where you include his exact thoughts. This should be italicized. In this case, you could potentially use an exclamation point, but that's still not super common. There would have to be a good reason for it. Internal dialogue can be set off with "dialogue" tags or not. If you choose to include "dialogue" tags with it, then format it like you would when someone's talking, but with italics rather than quotation marks.

Example with "dialogue" tags: He stepped out of the carriage, landing in soft snow. Bloody hell, it's cold out here! he thought.  (Note: this one is included only as an example. You shouldn't actually use the dialogue tag here because you've already got an action beat.)

Example without the "dialogue" tag: He stepped out of the carriage, landing in soft snow. Bloody hell, it's cold out here!

Note 1: Internal monologue isn't as common as expressing a character's thoughts within the narrative. I don't know if there are rules about limiting the amount of internal monologue, but you definitely don't want to go overboard with it. Try to only use it when you have to...such as when following the thoughts through the narrative just doesn't give you the same meaning or impact. This particular example probably doesn't need the extra emphasis of internal monologue.

Note 2: Notice that it shifts to present tense. When you're including your character's actual thoughts, it has to be the thoughts he's thinking at that precise moment.

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#9

SimpleCode Wrote: Thank you for the tips, much appreciated! It seems like there's still a lot to learn when it comes to writing. From the reader's perspective, it always looks so easy :)

One more question: Could one combine 3rd person perspective with impersonal interjections ( something like: " As he got out of the carriage, his feet landed in soft snow. It was freezing outside!"



I don't see why you can't use the interjections. I personally use them in my current work since the story is very character driven and I find that the interjections bring some personal elements to the perspective of the story-teller.

Here a short example from my current work:

"Noah felt a bit nervous, like a father sending his son off to battle for the first time. Up to now, Jessup was the prime example of a perfectly dignified young master. There was no grinning, no jokes, no bubbly chats. The boy stood there with a solemn face and eyes facing straight. Just as Noah was about to praise him, Jessup’s jaw dropped comically. By the Gods! Was it so hard to stay serious for half a day?! He opened his mouth to scold him, but realized that Jessup wasn’t the only one gaping. It was a universal reaction amongst all the squires."

    
As long as it merges naturally with the narrative there should be no problem, but that is just my humble opinion as a non-native speaker. 

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#10

IvyVeritas Wrote:
SimpleCode Wrote: One more question: Could one combine 3rd person perspective with impersonal interjections ( something like: " As he got out of the carriage, his feet landed in soft snow. It was freezing outside!"



When writing in third-person, you can certainly include the character's thoughts. However, in the pattern you show here, you wouldn't typically include an exclamation point. That would be more common in first-person, but it's a little too close to the action for third-person thoughts when they're expressed through the narrative.

There are two ways to include the character's thoughts in third-person.

1. As part of the narrative, where you describe what he's thinking in line with the rest of the text. It's not necessarily the exact words he's thinking, but instead is written in a way to fit with the rest of narrative: As he got out of the carriage, his feet landed in soft snow. It was freezing outside.

However, note that this is an example of a pronoun that can be eliminated. Telling us what "his feet" are doing isn't necessary. Plus, "out" and "outside" are repetitive. Modified example: He stepped out of the carriage, landing in soft snow. The air was freezing.

(Although if this is a horse carriage, I'd wonder why he didn't notice the cold until he was outside. If this is a train carriage, that's not a problem.)


2. As internal monologue, where you include his exact thoughts. This should be italicized. In this case, you could potentially use an exclamation point, but that's still not super common. There would have to be a good reason for it. Internal dialogue can be set off with "dialogue" tags or not. If you choose to include "dialogue" tags with it, then format it like you would when someone's talking, but with italics rather than quotation marks.

Example with "dialogue" tags: He stepped out of the carriage, landing in soft snow. Bloody hell, it's cold out here! he thought.  (Note: this one is included only as an example. You shouldn't actually use the dialogue tag here because you've already got an action beat.)

Example without the "dialogue" tag: He stepped out of the carriage, landing in soft snow. Bloody hell, it's cold out here!

Note 1: Internal monologue isn't as common as expressing a character's thoughts within the narrative. I don't know if there are rules about limiting the amount of internal monologue, but you definitely don't want to go overboard with it. Try to only use it when you have to...such as when following the thoughts through the narrative just doesn't give you the same meaning or impact. This particular example probably doesn't need the extra emphasis of internal monologue.

Note 2: Notice that it shifts to present tense. When you're including your character's actual thoughts, it has to be the thoughts he's thinking at that precise moment.

That's the point. He could rewrite it like you did and it would have been more better. However, it wouldn't be impersonal anymore. 

If he loves using impersonal verbs which ride with impersonal pronouns, then I believe he's also right. He can do away with the exclamation, of course. 

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#11

SimpleCode Wrote: I've always heard 3rd person perspective is superior to 1st person when it comes to writing, so I decided to go with that.


That's a fundamentally wrong view and a lack of understanding of POVs. No POV is superior to the other. Each of them has their own quirks, advantages and disadvantages. 3rd person is generally considered easier to write, but there are plenty of established authors that write in the first person. Heck, there are even people who write in the second person and do an awfully good job of it. However, before going into a POV, it's always better to do research and learn what to do and what not to do in a POV...

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#12

I Wrote:
SimpleCode Wrote: I've always heard 3rd person perspective is superior to 1st person when it comes to writing, so I decided to go with that.


That's a fundamentally wrong view and a lack of understanding of POVs. No POV is superior to the other. Each of them has their own quirks, advantages and disadvantages. 3rd person is generally considered easier to write, but there are plenty of established authors that write in the first person. Heck, there are even people who write in the second person and do an awfully good job of it. However, before going into a POV, it's always better to do research and learn what to do and what not to do in a POV...



Now that's a new one to me. Can you give me an example of a 2nd person perspective? Otherwise I totally agree that there is no superrior perspective. I personally feel a bit... uneasy with 1st person, but that is just my personal preference ;).

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#13

Oomtown Wrote: every first person novel i've read, i've had to drop in the middle of to get by brain back.

its rought.. hard to follow and mostly a bad idea. imho.

There are some EXCELLENT books of the genre type.. but ultimately its very hard to keep into a prospective that doesn't sound over narrated.



I'm not entirely sure I entirely disagree with you, but still Ido somewhat :-)

In fact, I prefer first person past tense over anything else, but then again I am one of those weirdos who loooooooves a good voiceover in a film noir, so it could be just me :-)

I think the worst to get into is first person present tense, which pretty much IS narration and nothing else. I can't stand it.

So I decided to write my very first novel in exactly that: first person present tense :-)

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#15

Nine Wrote:
Oomtown Wrote: every first person novel i've read, i've had to drop in the middle of to get by brain back.

its rought.. hard to follow and mostly a bad idea. imho.

There are some EXCELLENT books of the genre type.. but ultimately its very hard to keep into a prospective that doesn't sound over narrated.



I'm not entirely sure I entirely disagree with you, but still Ido somewhat :-)

In fact, I prefer first person past tense over anything else, but then again I am one of those weirdos who loooooooves a good voiceover in a film noir, so it could be just me :-)

I think the worst to get into is first person present tense, which pretty much IS narration and nothing else. I can't stand it.

So I decided to write my very first novel in exactly that: first person present tense :-)



Whoops, started my first novel in first person present tense, mostly as a challenge to myself, as my normal style has always been 3rd person past tense. Currently, the MC doesn't actually speak, so I figured it would be heavily narrated regardless, but I'll absolutely keep what you're both saying in mind. I actually picked it because the MC is confused etc and I felt it a nice challenge to see if I could put that sensation into a written form. For that, 1st person present tense is very well suited.

Re: Question: 3rd or 1st person?

#16

SimpleCode Wrote: I find it hard to not keep repeating various pronouns ( he/she , his/her ) or calling the characters in bland fashion, based on a certain trait ( the young man, the teenager, the assistant, the tall man etc).

Could you provide me some insight on how to mend this issue? Is a 1st person perspective easier to depict?



I don't think the person is your issue here, I think you're not sure which kind of narrator you want:

- Is it a a person in the universe of the story or a meta voice?

- Is it all-knowing or does he only know stuff up to the point the story is at?

- Does he know everything or only what one character knows?

- Does he know what's happening inside peoples' heads?

- Is he truthful or does he lie to the reader?

The classic "generic" narrator would be "meta, all-knowing, everything, yes, truthful". A "movie camera" narrator would be "meta, n/a, everything, no, truthful". Typical first-person narrators would be "in story, up to now, only one, only his own, in-between" or "in story, knows the future, only one plus what he might learn in the future, only his own, in-between".

If you have to call characters by their visible attributes, you have a narrator that doesn't "know everything". Otherwise he would just use their names, even if the protagonist doesn't know them. Some people say that a narrator that only knows what the protagonist knows should be 1st person, but that's personal preference---it doesn't change anything about the text except the pronouns.