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Choosing Your Narrative Voice: First Person vs. Third Person

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Narrative voice plays a significant role in shaping the reading experience of a novel. As an aspiring author, deciding between writing in first person or third person can have a profound impact on how your story unfolds. In this post, we will explore the pros and cons of both perspectives, empowering you to make an informed choice when crafting your next story.

First Person Perspective:

Writing a novel in the first person allows readers to experience the story through the eyes of the protagonist. This perspective creates an immediate and intimate connection between the reader and the main character. Readers gain access to the protagonist’s thoughts, emotions, and personal journey, fostering a deep sense of empathy and investment in their story.

First person narratives provide an opportunity to develop a distinct and authentic voice for the protagonist. Through the protagonist’s unique perspectives, slang, and idiosyncrasies, the readers can develop a deeper understanding of their character, making them more relatable and memorable.

A potential drawback of the first person perspective is its limitation to the protagonist’s point of view. Readers only see and know what the protagonist experiences and observes, which can restrict the storytelling to a narrower scope. This limitation may require creative strategies to convey events and information that occur outside of the protagonist’s awareness.

Third Person Perspective:

Writing a novel in the third person allows for broader world-building and exploration. The narrative is not confined to a single character’s perspective, enabling the author to showcase multiple characters, settings, and plotlines. This perspective is ideal for epic fantasy tales with intricate political landscapes, complex magic systems, and interwoven storylines.

The third person perspective provides a more objective viewpoint, allowing readers to see the bigger picture. It enables the author to create suspense, dramatic irony, and surprise by revealing information that the protagonist might not be aware of. This narrative distance can offer a broader understanding of the story’s intricate threads and character motivations.

While the third person perspective allows for a larger cast of characters, it may pose challenges in developing a deep emotional connection with the protagonists. However, skilled authors can still craft well-rounded and relatable characters by utilizing interior monologues and character-driven scenes to delve into their thoughts, emotions, and motivations.

Choosing between first person and third person perspectives is a decision that should align with your storytelling goals and the nature of your narrative. If you desire an immersive and intimate experience with a strong emotional connection to the protagonist, the first person perspective may be the ideal choice. On the other hand, if you aspire to create a grand and expansive world with multiple characters and complex plotlines, the third person perspective may provide the necessary scope and objectivity.

Ultimately, both perspectives have their strengths and weaknesses. It’s important to consider your story’s themes, plot structure, character dynamics, and the type of reading experience you wish to offer your audience. Whichever perspective you choose, embrace it fully and let your imagination soar as you embark on the enchanting journey of writing your novel.

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