This is my second post to Bookish Temptations and my first as a monthly contributor. I am very excited to begin and my goal with these continued submissions is to explore the things that matter to us as readers and writers. To that end I have chosen as my first topic of the new year:
1st person vs. 3rd person
Some writers like to tell stories from a more personal point of view, while others like to introduce details and insights that a single person might not notice or record in their narrative.
Readers likewise have habits and desires concerning how stories are told to them. For some the narrative style is mandatory, for others it is barely noticed. I will therefore referee three rounds between the two most commonly used styles.
Before I begin I would like to share my methodology with you; I regularly write in both 1st and 3rd person and although I studied literature at Portland State University, I will mostly be using research and interviews I’ve done for this project alone. (I wanted to make sure that current trends were accurately represented and PSU was a looooong time ago).
Round One: Definition
Even if you already know the definition of the three types of literary narrative styles, please indulge me as I frame it up.
1st Person storytelling speaks from the “I” point of view, as in, “I grabbed the monkey bars and wondered if my small hands would hold me, let alone carry me across the imaginary lava pit I had installed just that morning.”
3rd person storytelling speaks from the “he/she” point of view, (omniscient if you will) as in, “She held his face to the gravel with her unlaced boot. His smirk was now painted on the rocks in a bloody tribute to her rebellion.”
There is of course a 2nd person storytelling style and that is speaking directly to “you”, as in, “If you want to get the best tasting watermelons, choose ones with a yellow bellies; This insures that you have chosen melons that have not been disturbed as they ripened.” As you can see this
style of writing is seldom useful outside of toy assembly instructions and the hokey pokey. Interestingly enough, these “Wordslingers” submissions tend to lapse into the 2nd person style from time to time. (Reread the first sentence under Round One header, it starts with 2nd person and ends with 1st person yet it is a completely acceptable sentence structure).
By definition alone, 3rd person storytelling allows the writer more avenues to explore and therefore puts the them in the best position creativity. This is merely a matter of access to information that can be shared with the reader. So, while the fight is not over, round one goes to 3rd person.