POV: Which is Better

Recently, while talking to a friend, she told me she preferred first person while reading, to third person. For her, reading is an experience a way to get away from life and first person allowed her to feel more like she was a part of the story.

This is not the first time I’ve heard this, in fact, I even feel that way sometimes. Reading is my escape from the shit that can be everyday life and when reading a first person book, it’s easier to escape.

However, I also love to write and have recently discovered that third person is easier to write from. This is also an opinion I’ve heard from others who write.

Of course, there is always second person, which I’ll go into as well, but second is rarer.

Let’s start with First Person.

Pros:

  • Fun to read from
    • It places you into the MC’s head.
  • Can narrow focus when it comes to writing.
    • This way one wouldn’t have to keep track of how multiple characters see, think, and act.
  • Gives you a better knowledge of the person’s head one’s in.

Cons:

  • Narrow view
    • This is what usually kills it for me. As much as I love being in one narrator’s head and living it, you’re stuck with their views and thoughts, regardless if they are true or not.
  • Withheld information
    • Because you’re only in the head of one (or two) characters there could be outside information you’re not getting as a reader.
  • Harder to write from (personally)
    • When I was younger first person was my go to. Not so much now. There’s just so much going on in my head that I want to put onto paper but can’t due to the fact that the character wouldn’t know or notice whatever was going on.

Third Limited

Pros:

  • While it only follows the thoughts and feels of one character readers can be privy to information outside the MC’s realm.
  • Similarly, one can also receive more information about outside characters, just not as much. Such as a glance the reader would not have known about if it were first person.

Cons:

  • Much like first person:
    • The narration is still limited. You’re following only one character. A secondary character could be Brutus-ing another character or planning on it, and we wouldn’t know until it happened.

Third Omniscient

Pros:

  • A reader gets more than one POV
    • While this can happen in first or even limited, it just isn’t that same, and is always, well, limited. Here, a narrator could skip around to character A, B, C, and D, and while character A might be the MC, we still get to know the sketchy shit character C and D are up to.
  • More knowledge
    • This way there’s room for growth from all characters. That character one initially thought was an asshole is actually a pretty swell guy apart from all the bad shit he’s doing.
  • Less false information:
    • Sometimes, while reading from first or limited, there’s always something withheld or the way the character sees it isn’t the way it truly is. Written like this, the chances of there being false information fed to the reader is lessened and only likely if the author needs it to occur.

Cons:

  • Headache
    • Who is the narrator following now? Character A, B, C, D? Of course, that could be the writers problem if they aren’t doing well of establishing who’s storyline you’re reading now.
  • Annoyance
    • Sometimes you’re following Character C, the supposed friend of Character A, but Character C is actually going to betray or is going behind Character A’s back. SURPRISE, now you have this and are pissed because you can’t do anything to warn them PLUS they’re too stupid to notice!

Second Person!

Pros

  • A reader is more likely to feel like they’re apart of the story.

Cons:

  • It is VARY rare and can be a headache
    • We once listened to a story with second person narration and while it was unique, it also gave me a unique headache. Though that may have been the narrator’s voice….

SO after a quick poll on Twitter, it shows that Writers prefer:

1st Person: __%

Limited: __%

Omniscient: __%

READERS prefer

First: __%

Limited: __%

Omniscient: __%

I didn’t add second because it really is a rarity to come across.

Peace and love!

-Kit Cat

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5 thoughts on “POV: Which is Better

  1. I write in first POV because, I find that easier? I haven’t really tried writing in third person much.

    To read, I like first person and the thing about limitation is true but sometimes, the limitations means when they find out about some secret later, it’s a huge twist. Third person is cool but, honestly, I can’t get a feel of the personality so well with it. Especially when in a scene the feelings and inner thoughts of both characters are brought in an I can’t profile either properly.

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  2. I’m much more likely to see the limited range of perspective in first, deep third, and third limited as an advantage–I find that not giving the reader information or giving them false information through characterization is a wonderful way to maintain tension.

    I think the difficult thing about omniscient is that it just doesn’t tend to follow a single character’s storyline. It’s the ultimate way of entwining many characters, because you’re in every head at the same time. The tension then arises less from surprise and more from trying to figure out how and when something will happen. Personally, I think this is the most difficult one to do well, because it can just be really jarring and disorienting–it’s too often mistaken for a head-hopping third limited, which diminishes the effect.

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  3. I like both. I think a mixture in the things I read is nice. As you mention, there are pros and cons to both. I certainly wouldn’t want to be limited to only first person POV since that’s a limited POV. On the other hand, I’m pretty over author putting seven POVs in one book.

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