5 Reasons to Choose Third Person Narrative

Last week we considered five reasons we might choose to write our novel in the first person narrative voice (I, we, us.) If you’d like to go back and take a look at the post, you can find it here.

In that post I mentioned that stories are usually narrated either in the first person (I, me, we) or the third person (he, she, it, they). Neither is right or wrong; they are just different. You can choose!


However, there are certain situations that make writing from either one or the other a better choice. This week, we consider five reasons you might choose to write in the third person (he, she, they):

Reason 1: Writing in the first person can be restrictive. For example, your protagonist won’t be able to see someone following them. Impossible, right? You may not want them to know someone is following them… but you might want your readers to know, to build suspense. Which could be tricky if writing in the first person! So third would be a good choice.

Reason 2: If you have action happening in more than one place at once, writing in the third person is an obvious choice. No one can be in two places at once! 🙂

Reason 3: You can be more objective when writing in the third person. You are not bound by what your protagonist is thinking and feeling. The third person perspective is wider, and gives you, as the writer, more freedom. Your narrator can see things from any perspective you choose. Which can be useful.

Reason 4: I mentioned last week that if your protagonist is very much like your readers, writing from his or her point of view in the first person will help you get your readers to engage with them at a deep emotional level. But if you expect to have a wider readership – if your protagonist is a young lad, for example, but you are writing for boys and girls, the third person might be a better fit. Girls might get fed up with the boy’s thoughts and feelings… or vice versa.

Reason 5: You might simply find you tell your story better in the third person, and that’s fine! The story is yours, after all. 🙂

OK, here’s a writing exercise for you, just for fun: Your main character is visiting a zoo with friends, and becomes a giraffe. Write a paragraph or two in the first person, then switch to the third. Which comes more naturally? Enjoy!


Janet Wilson from Write for a Reason and Dernier Publishing

P.S. If you’re not completely clear about the difference between first and third person narrative, let me know, and I’ll make that the next blog post. 🙂

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