Switching POV (that is, between first and third person) is a powerful, if unnecessary, tool in a writer's kit. There are many examples of writers and works that have done this very successfully including "No country for old men" and the Alex Cross novels by James Patterson (amoung many other detective novels). So it makes sense that a common question asked on this subreddit is "Would it be ok if I did this? Can this work?" and for the answer to commonly be "Of course you can!"

The answer of "Yes" is correct when the question is "Can I?". But what if the question was "Should I?"

Ignoring, for the moment, whether or not the decision to use the tool for this particular book is wise, I say that for well over 99% of this sub, myself included, the answer is NO.


Because writing in first person is a skill. One not easily gained, and even harder to perfect.

Because writing in third person is a skill. One not easily gained, and even harder to perfect.

Switching between them is a skill very difficult to perfect.

Most of us here are working on (or, more appropriate for many, thinking about working on) their first novels. We've perhaps somewhat successfully written in both POVs for short stories, but never for any sustained length of text, and certainly not the best of our abilities.

Why would you then give yourself more tools to have to perfect beyond the dozens of others (characterisation, dialogue, tension, pacing, etc)? Perhaps if you knew for certain that switching would improve the text. But you can't, because the only way you could, would be to have developed those tools in the first place. At least, that would be the case for me.

Read:  Time for a chapter.

So no, I won't be switching POV in my first novel. I doubt I will for my second. Perhaps it will be something I am comfortable trying in a short story, or perhaps a later novel, but for now I want to get the fundamentals right, and not make life even harder for myself as a writer.

What do you guys think? Should you be good at all the tools before writing your novel? Learn them all together as you write? Cut back on the number you need to learn in order to write something great?

Source: reddit post


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