First-Person Narration - A Good Option?

Use this forum to discuss the February 2020 Book of the month, "Opaque" by Calix Leigh-Reign
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missrlynnf
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Re: First-Person Narration - A Good Option?

Post by missrlynnf »

Although I couldn't finish the book, I have read many books that do something similar with their POV narration.

I think First-Person narration can be great because it pulls you in and makes the reader the character in a sense. You see, feel, experience the story as a part of it rather than as an outside observer.
However, if an author chooses to jump between characters, it needs to be a very obvious switch. A page break, the start of a new chapter, something. Many books that I've read from a first-person POV usually switch characters when they switch chapters (not every chapter is a new POV, but when the choose to switch they don't do it in the middle of the chapter, if that makes sense). Failing to make a clear separation between each POV can cause so much confusion, and it sounds like the author was too fluid with the transitions based on your post.

Definitely something worth noting for anyone looking to read the book.

The other issue that I usually run into with first-person narration is that it tends to go into stream of consciousness, which can be incredibly difficult to follow and a bit off putting. Think about the way we think; our minds will wander from thought to thought, topic to topic, and they all seem connected to us but to an outside observer it looks like we are just rapidly jumping from one thing to the next. Our brains are sometimes one big run on sentence. In real life, that works just fine. In writing, it can be really hard to read.

Like I said, I didn't actually make it through the book so I didn't have much opportunity to see how the perspective unfolds. From the bit I read, I can imagine that the stream of consciousness may have contributed to the fluid transition between character POVs, which may have led to the difficulty and confusion. That, and missing clear breaks between characters POVs.
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Post by AntonelaMaria »

Howlan wrote: 17 Feb 2020, 01:58
AntonelaMaria wrote: 16 Feb 2020, 13:43 First-person narration is all fine and dandy when you can make a difference between the characters. Otherwise... I don't know it is not about first or third person narration it is more of what kind of book it is. Maybe for fantasy, I wouldn't choose the first person.
I think Adam as a character would have caused so much influence if the story was narrated in the third person.
Wouldn't you say that if the writing is good that the narration is not really an issue? But I do think that only except are audiobooks which always work better for me in the third person.
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Post by freshbook »

I liked how Cālix Leigh-Reign wrote it. It was interesting reading from two different points of view. Yet, third person might have worked well too.
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Post by ciecheesemeister »

I was okay with the first-person narration in this book, but the third-person style would have worked just as well. I know a lot of people don't care for first-person narration. I don't mind it.
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Post by Tars »

I would have preferred third person narration best, because in my opinion, it makes story to unravel more fluidly. That way readers don't encounter constant distraction trying to understand who's POV they read at the moment, plus all characters get more in depth description of reactions and not only thoughts.
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Post by Ayshasif75 »

Personally, I think first person POV is much better. It definitely tells you more about what's going on with the characters on a deeper level than in third person POV.
Although the writer should always mention when changing the POV because it gets very confusing when the POVs are changed mid chapters.
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Post by Nym182 »

Howlan wrote: 15 Feb 2020, 13:38
cristinaro wrote: 15 Feb 2020, 07:49 Do you think that it was a good idea for the author to alternate between Adam's and Carly's first-person narration? As far as I am concerned, I found Adam's passages more interesting and believable than Carly's. Would a third-person narration have worked better?
I am a big fan of first-person narratives and I think the way the emotions are portrayed in the first person makes it easier to follow the story.
I agree! I love reading what is going on in a character's mind!
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Post by Nym182 »

Wyland wrote: 16 Feb 2020, 05:06 I think a third person narration would have been more appropriate to avoid having the inconsistency in the credibility of the tale as it moves from Adam's perspective to Carly's. To me consistency in a book's style is important.
Yeah, I agree... there never seemed to be a clear switch from Carly to Adam and back... And consistency is important to me too!
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Post by Nym182 »

Ayshasif75 wrote: 18 Feb 2020, 04:41 Personally, I think first person POV is much better. It definitely tells you more about what's going on with the characters on a deeper level than in third person POV.
Although the writer should always mention when changing the POV because it gets very confusing when the POVs are changed mid chapters.
I also dig first person POVs, you get an inside look at what's going on in the mind of the characters! But I also agree the author should have made the different POVs more distinct.
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Post by Nym182 »

Tars wrote: 18 Feb 2020, 04:27 I would have preferred third person narration best, because in my opinion, it makes story to unravel more fluidly. That way readers don't encounter constant distraction trying to understand who's POV they read at the moment, plus all characters get more in depth description of reactions and not only thoughts.
This is a good point. Third person narrative is good for covering more ground as first person POV limits the story to that specific character. This book seemed like a weird hybrid of the two!
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Post by Nym182 »

ciecheesemeister wrote: 17 Feb 2020, 23:45 I was okay with the first-person narration in this book, but the third-person style would have worked just as well. I know a lot of people don't care for first-person narration. I don't mind it.
Agreed, I would have been happy (well as happy as possible with this book haha) with either or.
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Post by Scerakor »

rbrochhausen wrote: 17 Feb 2020, 19:06 I liked how Cālix Leigh-Reign wrote it. It was interesting reading from two different points of view. Yet, third person might have worked well too.
I agree. Even with one perspective or another providing a stronger story, I almost always like books with multiple perspectives.
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Post by esp1975 »

This wasn't first-person narration. First-person narration would have meant Adam or Carly was telling the story. Instead of "Adam felt....", it would have been "I felt...".
This was third-person omniscient. Someone else, who could see inside everyone's heads, was telling the story.

What you are talking about here is the switching of point-of-view characters. I am not a huge fan of third-person omniscient to begin with. I hate it even more when it is used to flip back and forth between point-of-view characters, sometimes only a sentence at a time. So that actually drove me crazy.
I don't mind point-of-view shifts, but they need to be obvious (section breaks if nothing else) so that I am not left trying to figure out why Adam thought "X", only to go back and re-read and realize that we switched into Carly's POV for one sentence only. It makes things very confusing for the reader.
It's also kind of lazy, writing-wise, as the author then never has to show what one character is thinking by their reactions and actions. They instead just flip over into their head for a moment and then flip back.

And all of this was made worse by writing in present-tense. Very few authors can pull that off. And Leigh-Reign isn't quite that talented. (Or, her editor wasn't.)
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Post by Nym182 »

esp1975 wrote: 18 Feb 2020, 13:13 This wasn't first-person narration. First-person narration would have meant Adam or Carly was telling the story. Instead of "Adam felt....", it would have been "I felt...".
This was third-person omniscient. Someone else, who could see inside everyone's heads, was telling the story.

What you are talking about here is the switching of point-of-view characters. I am not a huge fan of third-person omniscient to begin with. I hate it even more when it is used to flip back and forth between point-of-view characters, sometimes only a sentence at a time. So that actually drove me crazy.
I don't mind point-of-view shifts, but they need to be obvious (section breaks if nothing else) so that I am not left trying to figure out why Adam thought "X", only to go back and re-read and realize that we switched into Carly's POV for one sentence only. It makes things very confusing for the reader.
It's also kind of lazy, writing-wise, as the author then never has to show what one character is thinking by their reactions and actions. They instead just flip over into their head for a moment and then flip back.

And all of this was made worse by writing in present-tense. Very few authors can pull that off. And Leigh-Reign isn't quite that talented. (Or, her editor wasn't.)
Oh wow, thank you for letting us know!
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Post by James Edwards »

Part of the reason I loved the book was that I was given the insight to understand the characters better because it was written in the first person. I would not have enjoyed it as much in the third person.
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