Tag Archives: perspective

First or Third Person? Present or Past Tense? How Do You Decide?

5 Jun

So you’re writing a book…but your book requires some decisions. Your narrative needs structure. And there are a million options to choose from. So how do you decide a perspective and a tense? What is the best combination for your book?

Let me start out by saying that making the choice to write in first/third person or past/present tense is different for every writer (and often every book). This decision might also differ from what an author prefers to read. For that reason, I wanted to look at this discussion from two different perspectives—as a reader and as a writer—and how I decide, so that you might be able to see how you can make that decision for yourself. Of course, there are a lot more options and specifications than I’m going to get into today. Consider this the basics.

First or Third Person

As a reader…

I love both first and third person. I honestly can’t say if I favor one over the other. As long as the novel is written well, I love the story, though I probably prefer third person for multiPOV stories, only because nailing numerous (and immediately recognizable) voices in first person is basically impossible. (Which I’ll explain below.)

As a writer….

I tend to write in first person. In fact, all of my currently published novels are in first person, though they are also in multiPOV first person…which I just called “basically impossible” above. (Because it is!) Both of my published series are written this way, but none of my recent, unpublished projects are, because UGH. First-person, multiPOV is hard! Nailing a unique voice for each character while staying in the moment is a constant battle. Right now, I’m writing my first third-person book, and I’ll be honest, I think I’m in love. Why? I have an unpopular opinion about first vs. third person. Strangely, I think third person is more intimate than first. Most would argue me, and I totally get it. The average first-person book truly gets into someone’s mind and feelings. But I feel so NARCISTIC in first person (with all the I, me, we, etc.) Because of that, I tend to avoid discussing feelings on top of a first-person point of view. But in third person. Boy, in third person, I feel like I can let those emotions fly. 

Present or Past Tense

As a reader…

I HATE present tense. LOATHE it even. I know. I know. That’s been the favored tense in YA since The Hunger Games. But it drives me nuts. While many have described past tense as sounding like someone telling a story (as if it had already happened), I actually find present tense to feel this way. “I jump over the fire and land on my feet!” sounds like something your uncle shouts around a campfire while telling his college-glory stories. I just don’t like the way it sounds. Present tense makes me feel like I’m being talked at rather than coaxed along. Past tense, however, helps me disappear into the story. That being said, some of my favorite books are in present tense. Don’t get me wrong. I’d never put a book down solely because of present tense, but it will make it a little bit harder for me to enjoy at first.

As a writer….

I write in past tense. In fact, I’ve never written in present, nor do I have the desire to. (But never say never, right?)

So how do I decide what to write in?

Honestly, I don’t.

When I set out to write a book, the POV and tense happen pretty naturally. Granted, there are some exceptions. For instance, I wanted to have Noah and Sophia tell my now-unpublished book, Take Me Tomorrow, but Noah—well, to be frank—is on drugs, and he doesn’t make a lot of sense (or he makes too much sense). So, he was cut out. It turned out to be Sophia’s story anyway. And though I tend to write in first person, my current project is in third person. (It’s actually my first serious project in third person.) Why is this one in third person? I have no clue! It just sort of happened that way. But I’m glad it did. The tone suits it perfectly.

Keep in mind…

First/third person and past/present tense are not the only options out there, and, quite frankly, these are just shells of your options. In third person, for instance, you have to choose between limited third or omniscient third (all-knowing). Then again, who says you have to decide? Some books combine different types of structures to write a book. RoseBlood by Anita Howard had third-person past for her male protagonist, while her female protagonist was written in present first. That way, you could immediately understand where you were and who we were reading about without stumbling. Your book’s options are unlimited.

So how should you decide?

Listen to your gut. Even if you write an entire series in first person and then realize it needs to be in third, I say go for it! Everyone’s writing journey is different, and though there are always trends to consider, nailing your voice is more important than trying to hit constantly-moving goalposts. There are pros and cons and limitations in both perspectives, but I tend to choose perspective/tense based on what the characters tell me to do. It happens overtime. I might not even know until I’m knee-deep in outlines. It might change, too. And that’s okay! Change happens at every process. Write how the book demands to be written. Try first, attempt third, experiment with both, and you’ll eventually find that natural point where you can’t turn back, because the words are endless. But that’s just my perspective. 😉

~SAT

Website Wonders

29 May

Hi, everyone! For once, I’m not announcing anyone. I am back, and I am blogging! ::does a little dance even though you’re watching::

I am really happy to be back (obviously) and I am even happier that you all enjoyed the guest bloggers of May. Today is reserved for Website Wonders – all of the websites that I have obsessed over this month, so I hope you enjoy them as much as I have. The articles are organized into these topics: In the News, Writing Tips, For Readers, The Poets, Inspire, and For Fun and Laughter. All links will send you to the article.

Enjoy!

In the News:

As Publishers Fight Amazon, Books Vanish:  This article is first for many reasons. I’m really passionate about the publishing industry, and I want to see it succeed for everyone. I know. I know. Many have been taking Amazon’s side because everyone “hates” the big 5 – but shifting the power from 5 to 1 is not a good idea. Plus, preventing David Sedaris’ novels is never going to fly. Either is preventing Robert Galbraith. (a.k.a. J.K. Rowling) But I’ll stop ranting here.

‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ Book 4 Coming?: E.L. James is heating up the publishing world (and Kindles) again! Kind of. Photo included. Kind of.

Tim Burton to direct ‘Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children’ slated for July 2015: Muh-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha. ::cue the creepy and delightful laughter:: I am a huge Tim Burton fan.

Writing Tips:

Cheat Sheets for Writing Body Language:  This was really popular on my Facebook page. It’s an amazingly thorough list of different ways to describe body language based on emotions.

This Sentence Has Five Words: I can’t explain this because it would spoil the piece, but I definitely recommend it.

5 Editor’s Secrets to Help You Write Like a Pro

My friend sent me this

My friend sent me this

13 Wonderful Old English Words We Should Still Be Using Today

For Readers:

7 Historical Parallels to ‘Game of Thrones’: If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you will absolutely love this.

32 People Reveal The One Book That Blew Their Minds: My favorite novel is on here! Is yours?

For Lexophiles (lover of words): Read these sentences twice. You will love them.

From Random House

From Random House

33 More Things We’d Do if We Were Locked in a Bookstore Overnight: What would you do in Barnes & Noble?

Q&A with Cassandra Clare: I just finished City of Heavenly Fire last night :]

The Poets:

Words and Pictures by Grant Snider: This comic is hilarious and true!

He’s Counting Down from 21, and By the Time He Reaches 15, My Stomach was in Knots: These sort of poems live in the depths of your soul forever.

Inspire:

Top Ten Mythical Places

No Photoshop. These Are Real Animals! These models and their animals are fantastical.

12 Photos of the Strangest Weather Phenomena Ever Witnessed

These 22 Far Away Perspectives of Famous Places Will Change the Way You See Them Forever: Who doesn’t like a change in perspective?

Artist Turns Dead Old Watches into Creepy Mechanical Crawlies 

30 Awesome Photos from Iceland

From David Olenick

From David Olenick

For Fun and Laughter:

Which Magical Creature Are You? I am a Sphinx

20 Funny Cat Photos That Are Sure to Make You Smile

~SAT

Interactive Book Reviews for Readers and Authors

17 May

Shannon, here, for an announcement. Minutes Before Sunset was featured on Friday Fiction. You can read an 1,000 word excerpt by clicking here. The scene happens between Jessica and Eric, and it’s from a chapter told from Jessica’s perspective.

Now an introduction. Pau Castillo from Pau’s Castles has written a wonderful post about her technique behind her interactive book reviews. I believe this post is great for readers and authors, especially book bloggers who might be considering a new aspect to add to their websites. Using her interactive method allows readers to be both entertained and engaged while reading and reviewing. As an author, I highly recommend her reviews – but check her out for yourself. She’s stellar! Thank you for blogging here today, Pau.

Good day to all avid followers and readers of the lovely author, Shannon A. Thompson! My name is Pau, a 20-year-old blogger from the Philippines and I’m here to share you how I do my book reviews.

Before, I used to think the way I do my reviews is… quite typical. Or rather, I’ve never thought highly of it. I thought it was just right to do the things I do but, apparently, I’ve gotten some praises from other authors because of it. They appreciated my “notes for authors”.

So what are notes for authors? 

Well, as the phrase claims, it’s my portion of my review post that contains my notes for authors. Usually, it contains spoilers. Lots and lots of spoilers. Which is why it’s usually just for authors and not readers most especially if they haven’t read the book yet.

screenshot.jpeg

Here’s a screenshot of my notes portion from my review for Shannon’s Seconds Before Sunrise.

notebook

This photo is a photo I tweeted to Shannon to show her my current notes progress for her book. I was barely halfway and I had these much thoughts already! The notes jotted down here can be as random as “Oh gosh Eric is a lovely character! Can I marry him?”

The notes portion basically contains my thoughts as I read the novel. Usually, I take note of the pace, character development, plot development, plot twists, fan-girl moments (especially when I’m crushing over a character. In Seconds Before Sunrise‘s case, Eric Welborn) and, sometimes, grammar and redundancies. English is not exactly my first language so grammar is not usually something I deeply look into. As for ARCs, I also take note of possible typographical errors.

jas

Here’s a screen cap of Jasmine Carolina’s comment about my review. I greatly appreciated this one because, although I became a little technical with my notes, she still loved the review. Jasmine Carolina recently published her first novel called Losing Me, the first book of a trilogy. It was a great novel!

sat

Lastly, other than the notebook author notes, I also tend to live tweet to authors (with minimal or no spoilers at all) while reading their works. I personally like them to feel my actual emotions at the very moment I’m feeling them. Shannon and another author named Amber Skye Forbes (author of When Stars Die) loved the live updates.

Personal tip and conclusion

So basically, that’s it! For attempting book bloggers out there, you might want to consider jotting down your thoughts while reading a book and if you have a twitter account, you might want to live-update as well. It gives the authors the satisfaction and joy of knowing how we, the readers, truly felt while reading something they’ve surely worked hard on.

Thank you for reading!

——-

More about the blogger

Photo from Pau’s Castles

Photo from Pau’s Castles

Pau is a 20-year-old blogger from the Philippines. Her blog is mostly filled with book reviews but, once in a while, she inserts some random stuff like her life as a media student, the places she discovered, and the restaurants / food stalls that forever scarred her taste buds… in a good way. She is currently a fourth year college student taking up Advertising which is a course commonly known as a zombie virus in the world of her school. During her free time, she is mostly stuck with a book or attempting to be an artist by doing calligraphy.

You can contact her via:

Twitter: @pauscastles

Instagram: @pauscastles

Blog: http://pauscastles.wordpress.com

Email: pauscastles@gmail.com

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