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Discussion Starter #1
Happy Saturday!

Some of you may recall that I was trying to decide between writing a sequel to my first novel or starting something altogether different. I went back and forth for a while but decided to write the sequel; the story has just been brewing in my head and I can't stop thinking about it, plus the reader feedback from my first novel has been amazing (with many asking for a sequel), so it was the natural choice.

My first novel was entirely written in the third person. I've started writing the sequel in both 1st and 3rd person -- the POV of one main character is told in first, while the rest are in third, and it only switches with new chapters.

Two questions:

1. Does anyone have objections to reading a book that has both 1st and 3rd?

2. Can anyone name other books that use this technique, both successfully and poorly, so I can have a look?

I'm going fishing for a few hours so talk amongst yourselves until I return.  :)

Thanks!
 

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I don't like it. It throws me out of the story, so I have to 'shift gear' each time the POV changes. I've mostly seen it done in suspense, James Patterson, Lisa Gardner, a few of their books do it, though I don't remember which ones. It's usually the killer that is in a different POV.
 

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I loathe this technique. Absolutely loathe it. I've only read a couple of books that used this technique. One was a chick lit book from Red Dress Ink, a while back. I don't recall the title, but I do remember hating the constantly switching POVs, which pulled me out of the book with every new chapter. It was distracting and irritating.

I do like first person in some cases, and I even like first person from various POVs, as in Heinlein's Number of the Beast. But books written in both first and third person are on my personal avoid-at-all-costs lists. I guess I can see why it would work in a suspense novel, but otherwise... well, what is the point? Why do you want the reader to see the story through one person's eyes and from the third person as well? If there is a really good reason, I suppose it could work. I wouldn't do it unless I had a really good writing reason, though.
 

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I like 1st/3rd combo as opposed to 1st POV of everyone in the book. I usually see the 1st/3rd together in chick lit or urban fantasy. I read one book in everyone's 1st POV and I hated it. Each chapter was a different person with "I" starting the chapter. ::shudder::
 

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Many Waters said:
Happy Saturday!

Some of you may recall that I was trying to decide between writing a sequel to my first novel or starting something altogether different. I went back and forth for a while but decided to write the sequel; the story has just been brewing in my head and I can't stop thinking about it, plus the reader feedback from my first novel has been amazing (with many asking for a sequel), so it was the natural choice.

My first novel was entirely written in the third person. I've started writing the sequel in both 1st and 3rd person -- the POV of one main character is told in first, while the rest are in third, and it only switches with new chapters.

Two questions:

1. Does anyone have objections to reading a book that has both 1st and 3rd?

2. Can anyone name other books that use this technique, both successfully and poorly, so I can have a look?

I'm going fishing for a few hours so talk amongst yourselves until I return. :)

Thanks!
I don't mind if the book starts in 1st ( i.e Prologue ) and then it switches to 3rd for the rest and ends on 1st. I have seen that done a few times by authors ( Kind of like bookends)

But if it's switching back and forth continually, no. I would say stick with one or the other.
 

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If I recall correctly, Sara Douglass did it in her Troy Game series. One character was 1st person, the rest were 3rd. I think it worked well.
 

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I do it in Badwater. It's primarily 1st for the protagonist but occasionally switches to 3rd for one of the bad guys. All switches are new chapters. I've gotten three complaints about it, but have also gotten several comments saying the bad-guy POV deepened his character and increased the overall tension. I think it's a case of YMMV. Some will hate it; some will love it; most won't care if it's done well.

James Lee Burke uses this technique very skillfully.

If your readers are demanding a sequel (congrats!) I'd think they'll come along for the ride, whatever the POVs.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I haven't hit the water yet. Getting my tackle ready and reading the replies.

Some interesting feedback here. I could definitely see how a constant switching between 1st and 3rd would be jarring. If done poorly, it would be a difficult read. For some reason I feel like I can do it in such a way that would enhance the story, not detract from it. Kind of a gut feeling I guess.

What I was envisioning, though, would be to write this novel from the POVs of probably three different characters. The backbone of the story would be the character whose POV I would tell in first person, mainly to delve deeper into her thoughts and feelings, because hers is as much an inner journey as it is an outer one.

The chapters would go in a sort of cadence: 1st person Character 1, 3rd person Character 2, 3rd Person Character 3, and then circle back to 1st person Character 1 and repeat the cycle.

I would rather do it this way than all 3rd person, I think, and I definitely wouldn't even consider writing in 1st person for all the characters and POVs. I almost feel like it would be less jarring, because, once they pick up on the sequence, the reader would know that the only 1st person perspective is the one particular character.

No? Yes? Maybe? I am reading the feedback here with great interest, and I'm certainly early enough in the novel to make a change if it seems I should. It's a tough call - I certainly don't want to scare people away from my book.  :)
 

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James Patterson does it, sparingly. 1st for the protagonist with occasional 3rd person scenes from the villains POV. I've seen it done in thrillers and really like it. Some thriller/suspense authors will do it the way James Patterson does, or they'll do it the other way -- 3rd for the main part of the story with 1st for the occasional villain scene.

As for switching back and forth with each chapter, when done well I actually really like it. Alesia Holliday (she also writes paranormal romance as Alyssa Day) did this in the chick lit/rom com Seven Ways to Lose Your Lover. The heroine was in 1st, with the hero in 3rd.

I did this in one of the short stories in my Short & Sweeti] collection in my sig line. "She's Got Legs" starts in the heroine's POV in 1st person, and then the second half of the story is in 3rd person from the hero's POV.
 

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I don't have any problem with reading a book with two points of view, if it's well done. The novel that I'm working on currently uses both, and it's integral to the story, not a gimmick. I can understand if some people don't like it, but you can't please everyone.
 

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For a classic example, check Bleak House, by Charles Dickens. I think the technique must have been experimental at the time--can anyone name an earlier example? He alternates sections in a 3rd person omniscient with a very strong author's voice, and sections in the 1st person of a young woman with a completely crushed self-esteem. Some people think it's his best book--some people can't stand it. I'm in the first group. (Well, one of his best....)
 

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I think about the only thing that's guaranteed is that no matter what you do, some people will love it and some will hate it. You have to tell your story your way.
 

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Gennifer Choldenko also did it in her mid-grade novel, If a Tree Falls in the Cafeteria. I found the back-and-forth disruptive. I kept asking myself, "Why is she doing that?"
 

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There are plenty of literary novels that use this convention. I support your experimentation. Just make sure to keep the voices/characters distinct enough. If in the end it doesn't work, the material is there to go back and revise. As for readers personal preferences, don't worry about it yet. Get the story down on the page and then take it to your beta readers or writing group and see what their responses are.

Good luck!

 

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bmcox said:
Just make sure to keep the voices/characters distinct enough.
This. It has to be completely clear who the POV is in each chapter, and not based only on the 1st to 3rd shift.

I seem to recall one of Iain M Banks's books, Feersum Endjinn, did this. Mostly 3rd, but one of the protagonists' scenes were in 1st person phonetics, no less. I've read it twice and I still couldn't explain the plot to anyone, so I don't know if it was successful :)
 

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I've enjoyed reading stories that shift gear - it can be done to great effect.

Like someone said upthread - there'll be haters, not matter what you do, so write it the way that makes you happy. ^_^
 

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I did this. Don't know if it was successful or not though.
I only did a few chapters in third person and it was for the villain to show some of her feelings instead of just everything from the MCs perspective.
 
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