I’ve recently began a new WIP. It’s a fantasy story and I’ve been working on the backstory, worldbuilding, and characters, for nearly a month now. One of my endeavors with this new story is to try and write a story in third person again.
All my first stories were in third person, merely because that’s what I was used to, but back in 2008, I wrote a story in first person POV, and happily carried on like so — until now.
Back in my youth when I wrote in third person, I never gave much thought to the different states of omniscience, personal third, limited, etc., until I began reading writing how-to books in my early 20s. It was intimidating, until I told myself to stop analyzing and just write. I began writing in first person then on a whim, and it was the greatest thing ever. Writing in first person just feels so much more natural to me.
The major difference for me between writing in first vs third is that writing in third feels like I’m simultaneously the actor and the director. I feel compelled to describe things from a bigger lens, that I must strategically place the characters and set up each scene just so. And then tell every relevant action or thought of certain characters that the MC isn’t necessarily experiencing.
Writing in first is where I’m strictly the actor. Writing as the protagonist places me directly into the story. It’s a retelling, more than a telling. So, if that makes any sense, writing in first person feels more of a story experience rather than watching a story unfold. Becoming the character and showing their thoughts and actions makes more sense to me than writing about characters and their feelings and observations beyond their purview. It may seem limited, in the literary sense, but it just feels right.
In this new WIP, I want to try and write in third person again, if only just to see if I could still pull it off. I was scared, anxious, and thoroughly nervous. After gathering sufficient courage, I wrote chapter one of the WIP in third. It wasn’t as awful as I thought it’d be, but I wasn’t thrilled with the result. It just felt too shallow. The characters felt too distant to me. It felt too restrictive.
One would think, just write the story in first person. No one’s forcing you to write in third. I know I’d have no problem writing this new WIP in first person, it’s just that I feel I’d lose the grandeur of the story experience. Not that the setting is the focal point, but I do want it to have an impact. I want to be able to describe the setting… without the MC being a tour guide. Scenes need to unfold without the MC being there.
I will be rewriting chapter one in first person POV to compare the difference, and perhaps write a followup post about the differences.
A curious note: all my fantasy stories are written in third person. All my urban fantasy stories are written in first person. I wonder if the genre and setting have anything to do my hangups?