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Topic: Writing in first and second person too confusing?

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Subject: Writing in first and second person too confusing?
Date Posted: 10/5/2007 8:12 AM ET
Member Since: 2/26/2007
Posts: 908
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If you were reading a novel, and chapters alternated between first and second persons (mother and daughter) along parallel lines, would you find it too confusing?

Date Posted: 10/5/2007 7:48 PM ET
Member Since: 8/9/2005
Posts: 20,024
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If I were doing it from two POVs I would make it the same. Like both in FP or both in TP. The Poisonwood Bible is written in the POV of 3 or 4 people but it wasnt confusing at all because they were all in the same POV.

Date Posted: 10/6/2007 12:28 PM ET
Member Since: 4/8/2006
Posts: 3,392
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I agree with Chris. It will be easier to read if it is in first person and you alternate between the view point characters.

I have read books where the first scene or chapter is in third person, to get the setting and main character established and then the rest of the story is in first person. I think that it would make it harder to stay in the story if it went back and forth.

If you want to try it, go for it. You can always change the POV later. Trust me, LOL, I've done this with the novel that I'm working on too many times to count. :)

Date Posted: 10/6/2007 11:01 PM ET
Member Since: 11/29/2006
Posts: 1,676
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I agree with Chris and Leah.  Stick to either first person or second person.  Alternating between the two would definately get confusing.

Date Posted: 10/29/2007 11:48 AM ET
Member Since: 9/19/2007
Posts: 24
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Hmmm, interesting question!  It wouldn't be confusing for me but, hey, everyone is different...

I'd say it would depend on just how well the book is written...  If the story makes more sense for the Daughter to speak in first person and the Mother to speak in second person then I say go for it!  If you set the tone early on in the book, Daughter's voice then Mother's voice, etc.,  I'm sure the reader will catch on by at least chapter 3.

My advice: write some, read it, have other's read it , then see how it goes!!!         You can always change it later!   :) 



Date Posted: 10/30/2007 2:15 AM ET
Member Since: 7/28/2007
Posts: 52
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Changing the POV of a CHARACTER is easier than changing to first or second. UGH.  I've seen that done in one novel, and while the novel still stayed excellent and I understood why they did it, because her point happening in real time while the husband was tracking down in a different time period "Eric had been looking..."  and the wife "She's working the nail.  The entire time she thinks about him.  She looks up, thinking she hears hear captor.  She doesn't.  It's just a noise.  So she goes back."  Then back to husband.  "He had been waiting for so long..."  etc, etc..  UGH.  It still threw me big time.  It happened twice, and I was just left baffled. UGH...it was a bit much.  Pov of charries in mid scene..that I can handle and it actually can be good. It doesn't bother me.  But otherwise, it's a bit confusing to do it the other way around.

Last Edited on: 10/30/07 2:17 AM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/26/2008 2:35 PM ET
Member Since: 8/29/2007
Posts: 2
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I just finished a book; "My Sister's Keeper" where each chapter was written in first person from the perspective of each of about 6 characters in the book.  It worked very well, but I am not sure how switching back from first to second person would work.  Worth a try!  Go for it and see if it makes sense. 

Date Posted: 2/12/2008 6:12 PM ET
Member Since: 2/6/2008
Posts: 1
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 Please tell me what "POV" means. i'm new to the forum.

Date Posted: 11/2/2008 10:26 PM ET
Member Since: 6/6/2008
Posts: 15
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Working with second person is always tricky because it can get really tiring.  Doing a whole novel, even half a novel, in second person is a lot of second person.  I'd really suggest sticking to switiching between two first person narrators.  I think it'll give the effect you're looking for without being too insane for the reader. 

Date Posted: 11/3/2008 4:38 AM ET
Member Since: 6/25/2007
Posts: 5,637
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I don't think I've ever read a novel in 2nd person., well, except for Choose Your Own Adventure type books. I'm not sure I could handle large portions of a novel in 2nd person.  Are you sure you don't mean 3rd person (using he / she instead of I)?

Date Posted: 11/3/2008 9:14 AM ET
Member Since: 5/6/2008
Posts: 5,479
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I think she means first and third, too. As long as you don't confuse the two while writing, it should be fine. Someone reading the story or book, that doesn't write at all, won't notice it. I never did until I started writing.

Date Posted: 11/3/2008 1:28 PM ET
Member Since: 12/22/2007
Posts: 589
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POV is point of view. First person uses the prounoun I, where the reader 'hears' the character talking (almost is the character) to them and is a more 'intimate' voice. Most cozy mysteries are written in first person. 2nd person POV is actually rare and considered the hardest to pull off ... this is where the pronoun you is used, it almost sounds like the reader is being 'ordered' around. (for lack of a better way to explain it) Third person uses the pronoun he/she and the reader gets into the character heads but isn't quite as intimate because the reader is still kept at a distance.

Brief ex. First person: I woke up late this morning and got ready for work. I dashed from the house to my car, hoping that my quick shower and minimal make-up routine left time for a stop at Starbucks.

Second Person: You woke up late this morning and got ready for work. You dashed from the house to your car, hoping that your quick shower and minimal make-up routine left time for a stop at Starbucks.

Third person: She woke up late this morning and got ready for work. She dashed from the house to her car, hoping that her quick shower and minimal make-up routine left time for a stop at Starbucks.

I've seen books combining first and third POV (or mulitple POVs in the same 'person' like first person POV or third person POV). Bit, I've never read a book that had first and second person point of view to tell the story. It might work if say, the mother's voice used the second person POV and it was told in letters that mom had written to daughter or vice versa.