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Sunday 9 December 2007

First Person or Third Person

Some of the greatest classics are written in the 1st person - Dickens' 'David Copperfield' and Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre' spring to mind immediately.
Writing in the first person makes the thoughts, emotions and motivation of a character more immediate and accessible but there are many disadvantages to it. The central character has to be in every scene so unless the story is character-led rather than plot-led it could slow the pace of the novel. It is difficult to portray the admiration or love others feel for the central character without having him/her sounding arrogant and consequently becoming unattractive. Of course, through dialogue it is possible to overcome some of these difficulties and also, through flashbacks to switch scenes for variety. Perhaps one way to create the immediacy felt in a novel written in the third person, is to original write each scene in the first person from the viewpoint of one of the characters and then to rewrite it in the third person.

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