lonely, man, crying

First person or third person? Present or past?

eyes, boy, book

I wrote the whole of the Ammonite Galaxy series in third person past. I didn’t have to think about it. It was simply the way I started. It was great. Although I always kept the story linear, I could hop from point-of-view to point-of-view as I liked. I could put a character’s spin on the events unfolding. I could allow their thoughts to direct the story. I was free, really.

Then I started to think about it. Fatal mistake! Modern books (and some not so modern, of course) were using first person past or even – gasp – first person present. Yikes! I started to notice what the books I was reading were written in. How was it that I had never even noticed what tense the pages I so eagerly turned were written in?

I realized that many of the books that were captivating me were first person accounts. So of course, I simply HAD to try that.

teamwork, write, author

Now, six years on, I am an older and definitely not much wiser person. Each time I start a book I have to agonize for days or weeks about what tense I am going to write in, and what person. I do charts to compare the options. I check other people’s opinions. I change whole chapters from one tense to another. I try to get a feel for the difference. I have written one book in first person present, three in first person past and eleven in third person past. And now? The next book?

Now I can’t decide.

choice, decision, business

I love writing in third person for the freedom it gives you. The omniscience you can have. Not being stuck with one point-of-view. Not being stuck with one perspective. Not worrying how your character could possibly know such and such a thing. Third person is wonderful. You can dive into one character then another. You can chop and change. You can even go backwards and forwards. Wonderful! Why did I ever think about changing?

I love writing in first person for the immediacy it gives you. The close relationship you get with the main character. The wonderful linear easiness of the whole story.

I love first person present because it leaves me breathless. It deposits me right inside the story, gasping with the main character at all the surprises, desperate to turn the page.

I still can’t decide.

I wish I had never even begun to think about what tense or what person. Why did I start all this?

fountain pen, notebook, paper

She put her pen down and stared out of the window.

She puts her pen down and stares out of the window.

I put my pen down and stare out of the window.

I put my pen down and stared out of the window.