Friday, 19 November 2010

First or third?

Person that is. Forget second, to me it just reads like one of those old Fighting Fantasy books, not that there was anything wrong with them back in the day. But, what makes you decide whether to write in first or third?

I've always been a third person kind of guy. One of my earliest short stories was first, a meeting of two young people, written from the view of both of them, one after the other. Obviously, it involved pies as everything from that era seemed to. But apart form that, everything's been third person since. Until recently.

I suppose my interpretation of writing comedy chose that way. Most of the jokes come from the narrator who keeps butting in. Some people scream, you can't do that, but it never hurt Douglas Adams (not that I can compare myself in anyway to him.)

Recently though, about march I guess, I started a little story about a Private Detective. It was hard work writing it in third person, like most PI's most of the action goes on in his messed up head. I gave up on it, but it keeps coming back to me, a little voice in my mind saying, 'write me, write me.'

My fairly recent discovery of the masses of excellent first person crime stuff out there made me have a go myself. Got to admit, I love it. Written about six little stories now, some work some don't

So is it horses for courses? Does the story dictate whether it's first or third. Or, is it the genre? Or even the main character? How messed up and complex does the character need to be before it needs writing in first?

Now that I've finished writing Too big to fail. I'm at a loss. For the past three months I've written a few thousand words each day, and just stopping dead is leaving a big hole. A couple of short stories have been written, but I'm looking more towards the next book.

The failed-newbie-contract-killer-come-wideboy-grifter book was started back in the summer. I got to about 35,000 words then put it on hold. I'm starting to wonder now if it would be better in first instead of third?

It seems a waste to dump nearly half a book and start again from scratch. But, then again, first person let's you get closer to his head, his thoughts without having to use those annoying He thought tags or italics all the time. Third person though, lets the reader see things the character doesn't. You can give little hints to the reader the character's unaware of.

Dunno is the answer. Maybe I'll re-write the start of it in first person and compare them?


Jaxbee said...

Charlie, two things spring to mind: as you so ably pointed out, first and third person allow you to do different things but I do think it's largely a personal taste thing. I just prefer to read novels written in third person, I like the multi voices, and so that influences me to write like that. And secondly, I think you should go ahead and try to re-write the failed-newbie-contract-killer. I reckon you'll realise early on whether or not it's going to work in first person and as someone's who's re-writing her first person novel into third, I can tell you it's quick. You know the story so it just all flows out in a rush, the ultimate writer's rush. Plus you're the speediest writer I know anyway... good luck!

Charlie Wade said...

Thanks Jaxbee. I think you've talked me into having a go (not that I needed much persuasion)

Charlie Wade said...
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