Wednesday, March 6, 2013

It's A Fiction Reader's Poll...

First and third person?

Confession:  I'm disappointed when I settle in for a great fiction read, crack the cover and read first person. Sigh.....

I've asked myself--why is this? And I've only come up with a few reasons:

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First, I'm in my own head all the time. I want to be in someone else's. I already know my own thoughts and somehow reading in the "I" format just keeps yanking me back to my own head.

Second, I think it's because I prefer to read historical which implies everything already happened in the past. Thus, the telling of the story from a third person allows the reader to join in the story without being too thick in narrative, or telling. First person just feels more present tense to me. JMHO.

Third, it's a flow issue for me. <Squirrel!>  It just feels more jerky to read. Maybe since I'm like an ADD reader, I need all the interruptions eliminated!  It feels to telling--"I did this, I did that, we went here, we went there, I saw that." Maybe it's just my weird brain matter makeup?

But mostly, it's just personal preference. There is no right or wrong.

So, it's a poll: 
What's your preference as a reader--1st vs. 3rd person?
Can you give some examples of your favorite 1st or 3rd person works?
What are your reasons for preference?
Do you think there is a place in the market for both?

16 comments:

  1. Third person! Same reasons you mention. I did write a manuscript in 1st person once, and enjoyed the process, there have been some 1st person books that I really liked, but generally I, too, feel more comfortable launching into a 3rd person read.

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  2. Third unless the author is really, really good at first person. It's all the "I"s that start driving me a little crazy.

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  3. I think there have to be more "I's" in first person than she's, her's , his, etc. But at least in third person you can substitute the persons first name for a change.

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  4. I'm a fan of third person, but I have read first persons that I've enjoyed very much. Christa Allan writes first person and she's so good it isn't funny and I enjoyed the Southern Fried Sushi series and it was first person.

    But my vote goes to 3rd.

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  5. 3rd. I rarely find a 1st that grabs me. And a hist/fic in 1st just doesn't ring true unless it's inner dialogue. I mean, I could be wrong again, there was that one time last year, so it's not like I'm NEVER wrong.
    And your 3 reasons are exactly why I like 3rd.

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  6. Strangely enough, I enjoy 1st person in CHICK LIT genres. Probably because there's so much sarcastic wit that I relate to it. Outside of that genre, 1st person loses me faster than my daughter can spit out her vitamin!

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  7. Third person. Today's 1st person can become narcissistic.

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    1. I agree with Jaime that I can handle 1st person in contemporary, and might even enjoy it if it's humorous sarcasm--but not if it's just negative or narcissistic--agree with you there.

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  8. Third person. I am a Historical Fiction reader primarily and agree, you are telling about happenings/events in the past that your current protagonist is in. An example I can give of both, is Lady in Waiting by Susan Meissner. I love the current Jane's story, interwoven into Lady Jane's story retold by her "lady in waiting" Miss Lucy. The two Janes, in today and yesteryear, as they both triumph and hold true to their values. So seamlessly did you go back and forth that it was unnoticed moving between tenses.
    First person, is a person telling about their now and their thoughts and feelings. Easier to tell or read "about" someone or a situation.
    The reason I prefer Christian Historical Fiction is because of the research the authors do to place their characters within the happenings and events of the time period. Way beyond what we learned in school and I find the stories very intriguing and interesting. A life already lived, guided by God. Hopefully, present day is too!
    Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House

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    1. Kathleen, I did read Susan's Lady in Waiting. Of all the historical fiction in first person that I've read, I agree that she used it to jump back and forth between present and past. I'm not sure it would have worked in 3rd person.

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  9. I used to be a first, but am now definitely a third person. With a few exceptions like the super talented Susan Meissner!

    I had never thought about it before but I am similar to Jaime - definitely find it easier to read first in contemporary than in historical. I'm reading a historical at the moment with two POVs, both in first, and am finding it quite hard going even though I have previously enjoyed the authors books.

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    1. Hi Kara! Thanks for dropping your two cents here. I think 3rd person is definitely winning out on our poll today.

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  10. I agree with your reasons for preferring third person, Anne. They're mine too. I'm fine with 1st in contemporary fiction if it's well done, but in historicals, it just feels forced and is jarring.

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    1. Jarring--that's the word I was looking for.

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  11. I saw Anne's post on Facebook this morning and commented to her that I had been thinking of this very thing this morning. I have a book idea started and a prologue written in first person. Then I got to thinking if I really want to write the book this way. This poll and readers' comments have really helped this author decide. It will be in third, like my other novels.
    Thanks,
    Rita Gerlach
    http://ritagerlach.blogspot.com

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    1. Great Rita! Blessings on your project! :)

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