Monday, May 24, 2010

First-Person or Third-Person?

I've written books both ways, and never heard any negative feedback about using either approach. Here's what I've been pondering.

Writing from my heroine's POV for the entire book really gave me a great perspective on her views. I loved being in her head the whole time. I could watch the story unfold, and share her assessments of others, including the hero. I felt every reaction she had and commiserated with her when heartache hit.

However, there are some publishers who won't accept first-person manuscripts. Years ago, I ghostwrote a nonfiction memoir in third person. An agent was intrigued, but asked that I rewrite it in first-person. Doing such a rewrite isn't just changing every "Jane" to "I" or "her" to "my". I had to carefully edit each sentence to only reflect "Jane's" POV.

It was a major undertaking, but in the end, I thought the book "read" better in first-person and sent it to the agent. She, however, rejected it and returned it to me within days. I somehow feel that she never checked it! Anyway, I published it as an ebook in 1999.

I've got two other books I'm working on, and have tried writing them both ways. While I like the first-person versions, I'm leaning towards doing third person. I understand when people comment about wanting to "get a feel" for both the hero and heroine...and maybe a first-person POV doesn't give enough for the reader to "bond" with the hero.

My book, "Gone to the Dogs" by Marianne Stephens, was the fastest one I wrote...and I think it was because I was in Katie's head and wrote it in first-person. The words and actions just flowed, and I really connected with her. Here's a sample from the book:

"In mere seconds we climaxed as we passionately clung to each other while soothing drops of water flowed down our bodies. This was sheer heaven. We’d both enjoyed our rendezvous once we crossed that line from arguing with each other to channeling our energy in a more passionate direction.

As my breathing tried to return to normal I knew in my heart that one encounter with sexy Mike wouldn’t be enough. Like eating potato chips I wouldn’t be able to stop at one. No chance I’d be able to dry off, thank him for a lovely evening and be on my merry way. No. Mike had taken up residence under my skin and I’d need much more of him to satisfy my craving for additional intimate contact.

I moved my head closer to his ear and whispered, “Round two in bed?” Subtleness with my new sex partner would take a hike. A woman with a mission and eagerness to lead the way transformed me into a she-cat.

Katie-cat was on the prowl."

 I can feel her every emotion, reaction, and desire...and urge to never let those sensations end.

 Do you enjoy reading/writing in first-person?

"Gone to the Dogs" is available in print and as an ebook at many sites, including Amazon and at:


  1. The timing of this post is eerie. I started self-edits on my romantic comedy yesterday. I wrote it in 1st person and I'm converting it to 3rd. Its a lot of work, but I feel it will make the story stronger.

  2. I've had to convert a first person ms to 3rd and I can sympathize with the amount of work and creative attention involved in such a task. No doubt 1st person is an excellent format and has it's rightful place in literature but I'm partial to reading and writing 3rd person. I feel 3rd person allows the reader to be an involved witness to an exciting story without the burden of "Being" the story. I like being invited or pulled into the story against my better judgement. lol
    3rd person allows the reader to draw their own conclusions and chose their own reactions. It's more interactive.
    XXOO Kat

  3. I have read first person but never written it.
    As a reader I enjoy both first person and third person.

    I can hardly wait to read my copy of Gone to the Dogs. It sounds great.

  4. I enjoy both - probably third person a bit more because many authors find first person difficult. I'm working on a first person narrative right now and I have to remind myself that my heroine can only see things from her point of view.

  5. I greatly admire authors who successfully write in the first person. I tried it once (very briefly) and gave up when I realized I couldn't effectively disconnect myself from the character.

  6. Thanks for the comments! was hard to separate myself from Katie in Gone to the Dogs...I got so immersed in her character I kept thinking like she would!
    Loved writing that book, though.


Thanks for leaving a comment.