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On which voice to use

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As I begin to develop my style of writing and work each day I am often faced with the question “Do I use first or third person?” I look to authors that have inspired me for direction and of course find a mix. There are obvious pros and cons to both and my first inclination is to use first person for a number of reasons.

My primary reason being that I’m able to hide certain bits of information from my reader. I can allow them to know only what my character knows. Very handy if you’re writing a mystery. If you’re using third person your reader might feel jilted that you didn’t share everything with them. They shall say, “You know everything so why shouldn’t I?”. Very disappointing as a reader to feel left out of the loop.

But that brings us to the reverse side of the coin where we are given the great tool of suspense. With your reader having more information than your characters you’re given the opportunity to build suspense. You can let the reader fret about the creature-of-nightmare around the corner. While your protagonist walks blindly into danger. Does that mean first person is devoid of suspense? Certainly not. Traversing into the unknown is unsettling in its own right. And you can work to give your readers clues as to what will happen next.

In the end it is about finding that voice that will work best for me as a writer. So now I am on that journey to find the tool that will work best for my style. There is an exercise I want to try where I write the same scene in both perspectives. I think that will give me a good idea on which I like better, and which I’m stronger with using. So keep a look out for that.

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1 Comment

  1. Mary Joyce says:

    My thought is if the story is, or seems biographical it would be in first person. I am interested to see your exercise! Good thinking!!

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