Can I write in 3rd person and then switch to 1st person perspectives?

I'm writing this book which is, to summarize, about a girl that gets kidnapped (with many twists and witty additions to the story).
I already wrote about two chapters in 1st person from the girl's perspective but then I did a re-write and wrote in 3rd person because my story left too many unanswered questions about the other characters.

But I really enjoy writing in 1st person and I want to be able to characterize deeper so I've left the first chapter, introducing all the characters and getting through the idea of what's going on, in 3rd person but then I've gone into 1st person perspective of the girl immediately after she's kidnapped (really making her character's mind more unique). And now I also want to write from the perspective of the main kidnapper and switch between the two at appropriate points (but no more 3rd person, that was only for the 1st chapter).

Do you think this is okay or too confusing?


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Most Helpful Girl

  • Usually writers stick to one overall POV, but you can still show many different perspectives and capture the whole story. It's just too jarring and disorienting for the reader to completely switch from 3rd person to 1st person POV. Here's some ways you can show different perspectives though:

    1) You can write chapters in first person POVs of different characters that depict the situation from many angles. The victim, the kidnapper, witnesses, police, family member, etc. each having their own chapter or chapters.
    2) You can write in 3rd person omniscient POV. That means it's all in third person, but you can explore and still have access to any character's perspective that you want in a chapter. The random guy walking down the street as well as the main character.
    3) You can write in 3rd person limited. That means it's still in 3rd person, but you restrict it to only the perspectives of a few characters. Maybe just the main character and kidnapper for instance.

    You can get depth and character in third person too, you just have to write about what the character is feeling or thinking. "Anna hugged herself closer and had the distinct, unsettling feeling that someone was following her."

    If you prefer writing in first person though, maybe for the benefits of stream of consciousness, that works too. Just make sure the reader knows from descriptions or chapter titles which character the perspective is coming from.

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What Guys Said 5

  • I saw it done very effectively by a new author. She switched back an forth each chapter. So a whole chapter was by one person. But it was a memoir. It could be adapted to a novel, though. Let me suggest "When I Was Elena" by Ellen Urbani. And I think she used her married (at that time) name also of Hidebrand or very close to that. It is on Amazon.

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  • unanswered questions about a character are not necessarily a bad thing. I think reading is a collaboration with reader and writer each bringing something to the table. I don't think writers are obligated to do all the work and should leave some things to the reader. I would recommend finding other ways of revealing the things readers may want to know about other characters rather than using first person narrative. Dialogue. Behaviour. Nuance, or better put how they react to specific situations. "Show, don't tell" is the golden rule of powerful writing. Recommended reading: 'Self Editing for Writers' by Renni Browne & Dave King.
    Having said that there's nothing intrinsically wrong with multiple POV's. It is sometimes useful to develop the plot. For character development, I think not.

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  • You can write however you want, that's the beautiful thing about writing.

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  • I've done this myself (if I recall correctly I even introduced a new character at some point in an old story, and then the rest of the story was told from the perspective of that character). I don't think that it's too confusing if the reader's paying attention. If you still think it is, you can always mark the passages as being from her perspective.

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  • I would advise against it, it can cause mass confusion for the reader, and it is rarely done effectively. However, if that's what you want to do, then give it a shot; and if it doesn't fit, then edit it. You never know, you could make it work.

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What Girls Said 4

  • If you make it clear enough, it can be an interesting introduction to the story
    Would love to read the result :)

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  • Don't switch it up too much, that becomes confusing fast. Also unanswered questions are a very good thing, specially in mysteries/thrillers. Maybe consider going back and leaving some vague clues, not fully Giving it all away ;)

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  • Sometimes, terrible online books have an eery, well-written prologues in the third person then the rest of the book is in lazy first person. you can do that. You just can't get lazy on the third person. It's really easy to make it a list.
    Like this:
    I look up at the dark, leafy branches. A little whistle drifts from the higher branches. Curious, I begin to climb into the tree. About ten feet up, I discover the source of the noise. It's my brother.

    That was boring and terrible and I took like two second to write that out. Just don't get lazy. Explain what's happening, what did I smell? What did I think? What did I see? What was the tree like? Was it rough of smooth? Am I good at climbing trees?

    If you write out a lazy first draft, you can go back and add stuff later to spice it up. Hope I helped somewhat...

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  • I have read books by popular authors that did that but they only did that after they got popular so I would advise against it if you are a new author

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