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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:I was just reading on a publisher submission guideline page that they only accept submissions which are written in the 3rd person because "studies and sales have shown this is preferred by readers over 1st person perspective."

I'd never thought about it before to tell you the truth.
And now that I am, I think I prefer 1st person because it allows me to be in the main character's head.

Though I see the virtue of 3rd person because it offers a broader range of vision into the story.

I think that, as a writer, this is important to know.
The site didn't give any links to studies or anything, and I know that the authors I enjoy reading are of both perspectives, so I thought I'd ask others.

Which perspective do you prefer to read and why?

Thanks!:)


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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jo_rhymes
jo_rhymes

Momma Bear
Location: Telford, Shrops
Member Since: 10th Apr 2005
Total posts: 4525
Posted:I prefer to read 3rd person. Mainly because the author can hint at how the main character is feeling, or acting, without directly telling you how.

I find fiction written in 1st person is too personal and doesn't feel like I am being taken on an adventure. It just feels as if someone is relaying their life to me, like in a diary.


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Birgit
Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh
Member Since: 27th Jan 2005
Total posts: 4145
Posted:It really depends on the situation.

Third perspective allows you to switch between characters, and tell the same story from different angles. Also, it's easier to put in information that the character doesn't have. In 1st person you'd have to do that by hindsight.

1st person can be very exciting when well-written, because you discover everything as the character does, and there is a huge scope for surprises.

Seems a bit limiting to not accept 1st person at all though.


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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: Birgit


Seems a bit limiting to not accept 1st person at all though.



I agree, and found it intriguing. It was only one publishing house with that "rule".

I appreciate both of your thoughts..thanks!


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Elanna
Elanna

Where ignorance is bliss, 'tis folly to be wise.
Location: NJ or DE, USA
Member Since: 25th Aug 2003
Total posts: 2293
Posted:I agree with Birgit. It really does depend on the story being told. I usually prefer to read books with multiple main characters in the 3rd person since you can follow everyone's adventure at the same time with greater and unbiased detail, but when the story is about one person's journey/discovery, I think 1st person is oftentimes more interesting to read. That way you can get a better idea of what the character went though. It really depends on the author and the story, in my opinion.

Not accepting a good book just because it's written in the 1st person seems just a little bit silly to me. shrug


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KaelGotRice
KaelGotRice

Basu gasu bakuhatsu - because sometimes buses explode
Location: Angel's Landing, USA
Member Since: 21st Jul 2003
Total posts: 1584
Posted:One of my favorite novels is in the first person - well, for the most part. It contains some of the most beautiful prose in the English language.



The Sorrows of Young Werther by J.W. Goethe.



There's a free copy online at bartleby.com I believe and other places as well. smile It is old school.


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Birgit
Birgit

had her carpal tunnel surgery already thanks v much
Location: Edinburgh
Member Since: 27th Jan 2005
Total posts: 4145
Posted: Written by: KaelGotRice


One of my favorite novels is in the first person - well, for the most part. It contains some of the most beautiful prose in the English language.

The Sorrows of Werther by J.W. Goethe.

There's a free copy online at bartleby.com I believe. smile



Must be a great translation then... I haven't read the original yet, so maybe I'll skip it and read Goethe in English for the first time biggrin Thanks for the link!

I can recommend "Spider" by Patrick McGrath. Deeply disturbing story from the perspective of a man who gets released from a mental institution, but written so skillfully that it's hard to decide what is true till the very end.


"vices are like genitals - most are ugly to behold, and yet we find that our own are dear to us."
(G.W. Dahlquist)

Owner of Dragosani's left half

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Yakumo
Yakumo

veteran
Location: Oxfordshire
Member Since: 31st May 2006
Total posts: 1237
Posted:Anyone read Waking Dream or Fly By Night ?

Blinded by Hyperlights, please donate generously grin

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FoxInDocs
FoxInDocs

Pooh-Bah
Location: Adelaide, SA
Member Since: 10th Jul 2005
Total posts: 1846
Posted:i've never really noticed much. i guess more of what i read is in the third person now that i think about it, but not because of any specific preferance, it's just how they were written. *shrugs*

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:I had to go through my books upstairs and they are a pretty even split between them.

I like the "diary" feel of first person but I love the multi-perspective of third.

But what I did notice is that the books are of a different caliber. The "classics" are all 3rd person while the ones I read when I don't have to seriously focus (fun read books) are mostly 1st.
Huh.

Thanks all!

Goethe is wonderful across the board. I haven't read that but in world lit (ie:those which didn't fit into other forms of lit) we covered other Goethe stories which were wonderful. Thanks for the suggestion. I'll have to look into it when I am done with my christmas books. wink


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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jeff(fake)
jeff(fake)

Scientist of Fortune
Location: Edinburgh
Member Since: 15th Apr 2005
Total posts: 1189
Posted: Written by: Elanna

Not accepting a good book just because it's written in the 1st person seems just a little bit silly to me.


Doesn't seem silly to me. If they are sell less well on average and a publisher can only sell a finite amount of books then it would seem to be a completely rational choice from an economic perspective.

I don't think I've got any perference between perspective. Plenty of my favorite novels were writen in first perpestive, although they are chiefly old ones by H.G. Wells.


According to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle of Quantum Dynamics, we may already be making love right now...

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:I did a bit more research and this is a relatively small publishing house (not Random House for example) so it has to regulate its output.

While most choose to do this by saying "no unsolicited", "agent only", etc. this one opens it to "new" authors but limits the perspective. It balances out I think.

However, I still haven't found anything that supports this. I used to manage a book store and I don't remember any reports like this coming in. shrug


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Neon_Shaolin
Neon_Shaolin

hehe, 'Member' huhuh
Location: Behind you. With Jam
Member Since: 13th Jul 2005
Total posts: 6120
Posted:I do have problem with some novels that are written with the diary motif. The most famous being Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. If you are being hunted by bloodthirsty creatures of the night, do you really have the time to write down all the events in meticulous detail when the time could be better spent trying to fight them or... running away? umm

I suppose a bit of artistic license and suspension of disbelief is involved. But it's something that's always irked me. Like 'The Blair Witch Project', as much as I enjoyed it, I was constantly thinking 'Drop the heavy filming equipment and RUN FOR YOUR LIVES FOOLS!'

This is not a rant at First-Person stories, just those that use the diary format. Though I anticipate a story about getting lost in a Sahara Desert told through internet blogs...


"I used to want to change the world, now I just wanna leave the room with a little dignity..." - Lotus Weinstock

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: Neon_Shaolin


I do have problem with some novels that are written with the diary motif. The most famous being Bram Stoker's 'Dracula'. If you are being hunted by bloodthirsty creatures of the night, do you really have the time to write down all the events in meticulous detail when the time could be better spent trying to fight them or... running away? umm

I suppose a bit of artistic license and suspension of disbelief is involved. But it's something that's always irked me. Like 'The Blair Witch Project', as much as I enjoyed it, I was constantly thinking 'Drop the heavy filming equipment and RUN FOR YOUR LIVES FOOLS!'

This is not a rant at First-Person stories, just those that use the diary format. Though I anticipate a story about getting lost in a Sahara Desert told through internet blogs...




LOL...I thought the same thing at BWP, and actually at several movies. However, I never thought that about Dracula. Hmmm. When I do my re-read of it, as I am occassionally wont to do, I will have keep that in mind.
I will also do so when I read the next Laurell K. book, as that is almost how she is as well.

Thanks for that thought.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Pink...?
Pink...?

Mistress of Pink...Multicoloured
Location: Over There
Member Since: 6th Apr 2002
Total posts: 6140
Posted:I think it really depends on the author. I love reading, and always have my nose in a book. The last book i read was brilliant, and was 3rd person. The book i'm reading at the moment is also fantastic, and is 1st person.

I think writers should write what they feel the idea would work best as. I think if authors are limited to just 3rd person a lot of interesting 1st person stories will be lost.


Never pick up a duck in a dungeon...

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yoni
yoni

Carpal \'Tunnel
Location: Bideford and Bath
Member Since: 4th Jun 2005
Total posts: 3099
Posted:I find it depends very much on the writer as to which I prefer. I've just read a fantastic book by Philip K. Dick which was done in a mixture of the two and when it was in 1st person it switched to different people however there was one main character through which most of the story was told.
I am currently reading a Chuck Palahniuk which is told through first person and is proving to be an excellent read and will possibly become one of my favourite books.


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NOn
activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac
Member Since: 23rd Jun 2004
Total posts: 1643
Posted:i think some of my favourite bits are written in 1st person by multiple people - i.e. everyone gets to tell their own bit of the story, and in most cases it works because you can express parts of the character through the way their section is written... so i don't know if that counts as 1/3rd person or something... i wonder what their view on that kind of story would be...

but to be honest it's never something i've conciously thought about before, i barely even notice whether the books i like are 1st or 3rd person most of the time, the point is you're into the story... so it seems kind of strange to me to compare sales figures on that basis, when you would have thought that books subject, quality of authorship, and probably even the book cover would have much more effect on the actual sales of the book...

Unless there really is an small section of society who whilst browsing for books will flick to the first page and if it starts with "I", put it straight back down!

Having said that, i not a big fan of biographies & i find books written like diaries very hard to read, mainly because of the way they are split up... maybe they mean more that kind of book?


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if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:That's a really good point NOn, about the comparison of sales figures. I wonder now how much the cover, subject, quality, etc. do count.

I know from when I worked at a bookstore those cheesy romance paperbacks flew off the shelf each month. Not high quality writing but the romance aspect and maybe the Fabio-ish laden cover add to it?

There is also the statement that the first sentence either creates or destroys a book. Meaning that if you lose a reader within the first sentence you will never get them back, so the first one has to be gripping. Which then means your "I" statement holds up.

Huh. More to think about.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Neon_Shaolin
Neon_Shaolin

hehe, 'Member' huhuh
Location: Behind you. With Jam
Member Since: 13th Jul 2005
Total posts: 6120
Posted: Written by: Pele


I know from when I worked at a bookstore those cheesy romance paperbacks flew off the shelf each month. Not high quality writing but the romance aspect and maybe the Fabio-ish laden cover add to it.




I'm sure Ben-Ja-Men could help you with that ubbangel


"I used to want to change the world, now I just wanna leave the room with a little dignity..." - Lotus Weinstock

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faith enfire
faith enfire

wandering thru the woods of WI
Location: Wisconsin
Member Since: 27th Jan 2006
Total posts: 3556
Posted:i hadn't thought about it but most of my books are third person with many story lines
you could sort of get into character's heads with third person omniscient, as opposed to third person limited


Faith
Nay, whatever comes one hour was sunlit and the most high gods may not make boast of any better thing than to have watched that hour as it passed

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: faithinfire


i hadn't thought about it but most of my books are third person with many story lines
you could sort of get into character's heads with third person omniscient, as opposed to third person limited



You don't think that sometimes third person omniscent gets a little...muttled sometimes?
When done well it's great I agree.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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faith enfire
faith enfire

wandering thru the woods of WI
Location: Wisconsin
Member Since: 27th Jan 2006
Total posts: 3556
Posted:it was a suggestion because you said you like to get into people's heads, that's all
and of course i have confidence that you can write so skillfully


Faith
Nay, whatever comes one hour was sunlit and the most high gods may not make boast of any better thing than to have watched that hour as it passed

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted:I do love to get into their heads, what I meant was...
In your opinion do you ever 3rd om to be too much because it can get into so many peoples heads, if that makes sense?

I am beginning to think I don't have any preferences at all. I am enjoying reading everyones opinions and thoughts.
I'm just so curious about it all.

As to my writing skillfully, I appreciate your vote of confidence alot however, while I used to think so, now it's more...subjective. I go back and reread things and it's just not what I see in my head...does that make sense?
Maybe someday some of my stuff will see light of day and you'll get to see! wink


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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faith enfire
faith enfire

wandering thru the woods of WI
Location: Wisconsin
Member Since: 27th Jan 2006
Total posts: 3556
Posted:i would rather have a story where i may need to work at following the plots, than have one where the author underestimates the reader's intelligence
plus if it is a challenging read, i'll go back and read it over and over again...this is good cause then you are not buying a book for a one time read, but one you can continue to enjoy


Faith
Nay, whatever comes one hour was sunlit and the most high gods may not make boast of any better thing than to have watched that hour as it passed

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jo_rhymes
jo_rhymes

Momma Bear
Location: Telford, Shrops
Member Since: 10th Apr 2005
Total posts: 4525
Posted:My mum's been writing a children's story for well over a year now. Well, she wrote is ages ago, but for over a year she just fiddles with it, changes sentences, names, words! Her story's been turned down by a lot of publishers and I think she's getting desperate.

Pele, I have the same experience of working in a bookshop and it's always the cheesey romance that sells!! ubblol


Hoppers are angels who lift us to our feet when our wings have trouble remembering how to fly.

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: jo_rhymes


My mum's been writing a children's story for well over a year now. Well, she wrote is ages ago, but for over a year she just fiddles with it, changes sentences, names, words! Her story's been turned down by a lot of publishers and I think she's getting desperate.

Pele, I have the same experience of working in a bookshop and it's always the cheesey romance that sells!! ubblol



I wish your mum luck. It's a hard process.

Isn't it incredible about those cheesey romance books? It amazes me. When we had to do the monthlies (for those who don't know, many of those books are like magazines and are released monthly. At the end of each month, the store receives credit for unsold ones and one publisher required that only the cover be ripped off and sent back, the rest was thrown away) we actually caught people dumpster diving for the body of the book!!! I don't think I've ever been that desperate for a romance novel...ever! eek wink

Thanks for clarifying Faith. That makes alot of sense, especially getting the "bang for your buck"..especially with book prices going up.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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Bek66
Bek66

Future Mrs Pogo
Location: The wrong place
Member Since: 27th Aug 2006
Total posts: 4728
Posted:You know...I've never really thought about it before, but in going back and looking thru some of my favourites...mine seem to run pretty much thru all the perspectives.

I guess you'd say that I don't really have a favourite style!
To me, a good book is just a good book!

I do have favourite authors...but not a favourite point of perspective!

I had NEVER thought about 'Dracula' in the way that you did, Dave!
I couldn't help but laugh, cause you are absolutely right!!!
If you're being sucked dry of your life's blood....and losing the one's you love to the one doing so....When in the unholy hell do you have time to write about it!!!

Too funny!!! That being said...'Dracula' is still one of my all time favourites!!!


"Absence is to love what wind is to fire...it extinguishes the small, enkindles the great."
--Comte Debussy-Rebutin

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faith enfire
faith enfire

wandering thru the woods of WI
Location: Wisconsin
Member Since: 27th Jan 2006
Total posts: 3556
Posted:well, i wouldn't dive for romances but i sure as anything dive for other books...
is that why they say if the book doesn't have a cover it's been stolen
i think romances sell because they are so obviously fantasy, and therefore so removed from the drudge of the readers life
my ex's mom has a couple of books published, she just had a new one published: it's a mystery centered around the doll collecting world
as much of a - well, we are proud of her http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780425212639&itm=30


Faith
Nay, whatever comes one hour was sunlit and the most high gods may not make boast of any better thing than to have watched that hour as it passed

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Pele
Pele

the henna lady
Location: WNY, USA
Member Since: 15th Dec 2000
Total posts: 6193
Posted: Written by: faithinfire


well, i wouldn't dive for romances but i sure as anything dive for other books...
is that why they say if the book doesn't have a cover it's been stolen
i think romances sell because they are so obviously fantasy, and therefore so removed from the drudge of the readers life
my ex's mom has a couple of books published, she just had a new one published: it's a mystery centered around the doll collecting world
as much of a - well, we are proud of her http://search.barnesandnoble.com/booksearch/isbnInquiry.asp?z=y&EAN=9780425212639&itm=30




Good for your ex's mom. I know a couple people who've done small press publishing (meaning, not Anne Rice breadth), or self-publishing style stuff. It's really cool to see on a shelf.

And yes, that is exactly why they say that. Although I have some books here where I have just "loved" the covers off over time! lol Not all publishers have that policy but it is a general rule.

One of my old friends was soooooooo into romance novels that it screwed up her chances at relationships because her "view of reality" was so skewed. I don't at all think it is the romance books though as much as her own ummmmm....misguidings. I've know a couple people like that with fantasy books too, sadly.


Pele
Higher, higher burning fire...making music like a choir
"Oooh look! A pub!" -exclaimed after recovering from a stupid fall
"And for the decadence of art, nothing beats a roaring fire." -TMK

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NOn
activist for HoPper liberation.
Location: ffidrac
Member Since: 23rd Jun 2004
Total posts: 1643
Posted:i noticed exactly the same about the romance books when i worked in a bookstore/newsagent too. funny that, it's clearly a global phenomenon... and i have a theory...

i think that there may be two factors with romance novels that makes them sell so well:

firstly: you know what you're getting, if you pick up a book in the romance section with a nice frilly pink cover and some half naked torsos on the front, you will get some people (at least two) falling in love and living happily ever after... otherwise it wouldn't be in the romance section... so if you want to get all mushy over the book you're reading and you like that sort of thing, then purchasing a book from this section will hardly ever fail to disappoint you...

secondly: since you don't really have to think much about the plot of the book (as mentioned in first point, you already know what's going to happen...), you don't have to pay attention and you can easily transplant characters with characters you like (if they're not quite good enough)/ yourself & people you know/ celebrities you have a crush on, and regardless of how badly the book is written, the fantasy makes it good to read. Plus the characters tend to be human (unless there are non-human-species romance books in that section also, but i sort of doubt it), and doing things that most humans have also done or dream of doing, (i.e. shagging) that it is very easy to fantasise about (as i think that unfortunately there is a rather large section of the book-reading population who struggles with believing in dragons/aliens/vampires/anything that they've never really seen, even for the duration of a book...) and so if you finish the book, but you're still not quite satisfied (perhaps the reader and brad pitt, only got it on once in the fantasy...), then you can go get another romance book, with an almost identical storyline, so that reader and brad pitt get to fall in love all over again..... and again.... and again... and again.... since not every reader of a romance novel can necessarily ever achieve this with the object of their fantasies, they have to buy more books... and the sales perpetuate...

that's my theory anyway. although having never actually read a romance book (well, if i know what happens, what's the point?!), anyone who does in fact enjoy that particular literary genre, is free to argue that theory...

and going back to the book cover point, i think a lot of people actually do judge a book by it's cover, romance novels being a case in point, but actually then if you look at the sci-fi section, or crime section, or childrens, or whatever, there are definately generic styles across each, enough i think for people to make an initial decision on a book based entirely on what the cover looks like. For example if you were in fact a reader of nice fluffy romance novels, would the first book you pick up realistically have an evil black cover and blood red splashes across it?... and given the hundreds and hundreds of different books that are generally kept in a bookstore, even if you don't want to judge a book by it's cover, you sometimes have to, or you too could be accidentally browsing the cheesy romance...


Aurinko freedom agreement reached 10th Sept 2006

if it makes no sense that's because it's NOn-sense.

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Nado
journeyman

Member Since: 1st Sep 2006
Total posts: 61
Posted: Written by: jo_rhymes


I prefer to read 3rd person. Mainly because the author can hint at how the main character is feeling, or acting, without directly telling you how.




Has anyone else read the "Assasins Apprentice" series by Robin Hobb. She uses first person narrative in a way that explains more of the persons feeling and reactions than 3rd person ever could. Pity the main character is a whiny little [censored] for most of it.


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