1st vs. 3rd Person POV

Point of view. It’s a pretty important decision when you’ve decided to write something. Both 1st person and 3rd person have their respective advantages and disadvantages, just like anything else, but how do you decide what’s right for the story you’re working on?

For me, it’s something about the feeling of the story. Obviously, there are genre conventions – urban fantasy is probably 90% 1st-person, whereas epic fantasy is probably 90% 3rd-person. I think romance is usually 3rd, and science fiction can go either way depending on the preference of the author and how the story flows, but probably a majority is 3rd-person.

All three of my published works to date are 3rd-person past tense, because that’s what I spend the most time reading and it’s what I’m most comfortable with as a writer. Plus, it works best with the particular feeling of those stories – Elegy and The Corpse King, as tales of the Arbiters, tend to require a certain distance from the characters’ thoughts. They also are more serious characters, and their internal thoughts wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if delivered in 1st-person.

The short story that I’m working on now, called Sorcerer’s Code, is also set in Eisengoth and is a tale of the Arbiters, but I decided to work from a different character’s point of view – in this case, one of the supporting characters from Elegy‘s sequel (currently entitled Prophecy). This particular character is shrewd and dangerous but also somewhat cowardly, and due to the setting I chose for this adventure, it has more of an urban fantasy flair, despite firmly being an Eisengoth story.

One of the beautiful things about self-publishing is the ability to experiment. I don’t know if Sorcerer’s Code will be as well-received as Elegy (4.5 stars on Amazon & Goodreads) and The Corpse King (5 stars so far) have been, but I certainly hope that the people who have come to appreciate my work will enjoy the 1st-person perspective of this particular character, and also a look at the Arbiters from a different angle.

Any other writers out there? How do you decide whether to write in 1st or 3rd person? Do you ever use present tense instead of past? (I haven’t done it yet.) Inquiring minds want to know!


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