First vs third person

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Randolph Carter

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Sep 13, 2015
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Apologies if this has been covered but has anyone noticed any pattern in first vs third person in King's novels? I noticed Revival, 11/22/63, and From a Buick 8 are in first person but many others are not.

Is there any pattern to this? Were earlier works more often in third than later ones? Are the more narrowly focused, personal ones first person? Or am I over thinking?
 

Moderator

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Apologies if this has been covered but has anyone noticed any pattern in first vs third person in King's novels? I noticed Revival, 11/22/63, and From a Buick 8 are in first person but many others are not.

Is there any pattern to this? Were earlier works more often in third than later ones? Are the more narrowly focused, personal ones first person? Or am I over thinking?
You're overthinking. He uses whatever he thinks works best for each novel.
 

skimom2

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Oct 9, 2013
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First or third person doesn't matter to me (there are positives and limitations to each), but present tense throws me--it's used in a lot of poorly written romance and YA books, and I find it EXTREMELY limiting as a writer and distracting as a reader. Mr. King doesn't use it often (though when he does, it's used well), and I'm glad.
 

Arcadevere

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Mar 3, 2016
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I don't care about First or third person or second person actually, i really care sometimes is the construction of sentences and the writing style, which is the key for a novel to the be so successful.

The POV only helps the novel to execute its concept and enhance its richness and its image of being what they are, just imagine that Revival and 11/22/63 was written in the third person view?
Do you think that Revival would be exciting and would be darker if Charlie's inner thoughts and madness was also told by the narrator while exchanging POV chapters with Jamie?
Do you think that 11/22/63 would be so emotional if the thoughts and the feelings of Jake doesn't come from Jake's mind but to the narrator?

Sometimes, there are stories that would be fit to be at 1st POV and there are also that wuould be fit in 3rd POV and rarely, Both.
 
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muskrat

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Nov 8, 2010
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Third person narration is ideal for longer works featuring multiple characters, such as The Stand and Tommyknockers. God, could you imagine the Stand being told solely by one character's point of view? Ick, that'd get old mighty quick.

First person is more precise, and tells a more intimate tale. Many writers find it an easier form to work in...BUT! It is quite limiting, IMO. Say you want to write about a heroic protagonist, who is rich, beautiful, smarter than everyone else (ugh, I wouldn't, but many writers do)--to write from this character's POV ends up sounding like a bunch of bragging. This is a point I often stress to my sister, who will write in nothing but first person, but always writes about beautiful woman and rich, handsome 'captains of industry' and what not. I'm just, like, 'ugh, Gina, don't you see how arrogant it sounds? How VAIN?' (She just rolls her eyes--"at least I don't write pulpy spook stories" that expression says). Very well, to each his own, and there is indeed a market for the kind of Mary Sue/Wish fulfillment stories she writes, but you'd have to hold a gun to my head to make me write like that.

Give you two examples of this idea: take Raymond Chandler vs. Mickey Spillane. Both cats write first person detective fiction, but Chandler is considered literature, whereas Spillane is kind of childish in comparison. Mike Hammer can kick everyone's butt, make all the chicks, and brags about it the whole time. Philip Marlowe, on the other hand, gets his butt kicked more often than not, and rarely gets the girl--he usually winds up alone, bruised, and double-crossed. I can believe in Marlowe, I like the guy, whereas Hammer just sounds like one of those arrogant blow-hards you meet in a bar.

Anybody get what I'm saying?
 
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GNTLGNT

The idiot is IN
Jun 15, 2007
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Third person narration is ideal for longer works featuring multiple characters, such as The Stand and Tommyknockers. God, could you imagine the Stand being told solely by one character's point of view? Ick, that'd get old mighty quick.

First person is more precise, and tells a more intimate tale. Many writers find it an easier form to work in...BUT! It is quite limiting, IMO. Say you want to write about a heroic protagonist, who is rich, beautiful, smarter than everyone else (ugh, I wouldn't, but many writers do)--to write from this character's POV ends up sounding like a bunch of bragging. This is a point I often stress to my sister, who will write in nothing but first person, but always writes about beautiful woman and rich, handsome 'captains of industry' and what not. I'm just, like, 'ugh, Gina, don't you see how arrogant it sounds? How VAIN?' (She just rolls her eyes--"at least I don't write pulpy spook stories" that expression says). Very well, to each his own, and there is indeed a market for the kind of Mary Sue/Wish fulfillment stories she writes, but you'd have to hold a gun to my head to make me write like that.

Give you two examples of this idea: take Raymond Chandler vs. Mickey Spillane. Both cats write first person detective fiction, but Chandler is considered literature, whereas Spillane is kind of childish in comparison. Mike Hammer can kick everyone's butt, make all the chicks, and brags about it the whole time. Philip Marlowe, on the other hand, gets his butt kicked more often than not, and rarely gets the girl--he usually winds up alone, bruised, and double-crossed. I can believe in Marlowe, I like the guy, whereas Hammer just sounds like one of those arrogant blow-hards you meet in a bar.

Anybody get what I'm saying?
...I do indeed, but I'd still rather knock back a drink with Hammer......
 

The Nameless

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Jul 10, 2011
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Third person narration is ideal for longer works featuring multiple characters, such as The Stand and Tommyknockers. God, could you imagine the Stand being told solely by one character's point of view? Ick, that'd get old mighty quick.

First person is more precise, and tells a more intimate tale. Many writers find it an easier form to work in...BUT! It is quite limiting, IMO. Say you want to write about a heroic protagonist, who is rich, beautiful, smarter than everyone else (ugh, I wouldn't, but many writers do)--to write from this character's POV ends up sounding like a bunch of bragging. This is a point I often stress to my sister, who will write in nothing but first person, but always writes about beautiful woman and rich, handsome 'captains of industry' and what not. I'm just, like, 'ugh, Gina, don't you see how arrogant it sounds? How VAIN?' (She just rolls her eyes--"at least I don't write pulpy spook stories" that expression says). Very well, to each his own, and there is indeed a market for the kind of Mary Sue/Wish fulfillment stories she writes, but you'd have to hold a gun to my head to make me write like that.

Give you two examples of this idea: take Raymond Chandler vs. Mickey Spillane. Both cats write first person detective fiction, but Chandler is considered literature, whereas Spillane is kind of childish in comparison. Mike Hammer can kick everyone's butt, make all the chicks, and brags about it the whole time. Philip Marlowe, on the other hand, gets his butt kicked more often than not, and rarely gets the girl--he usually winds up alone, bruised, and double-crossed. I can believe in Marlowe, I like the guy, whereas Hammer just sounds like one of those arrogant blow-hards you meet in a bar.

Anybody get what I'm saying?
I get what you're saying and agree with you. However, if you get a good enough writer they can write a 6 or 7 hundred page hardback about a mostly modest and humble guy as long as his story is enjoyable, gripping, flawed (nobody likes a Mr perfect) and it's setting is interesting (even if it is outlandish) such as spending 5 years in the obdurate past in order to save the president. Of course, a master of his trade like Stephen King would be able to avoid such traps as you pointed out.

I still prefer to read books from a 3rd person view but 11.22.63 taught me that 1st person doesn't have to be boring, and duma key is backing that up nicely so far.
 
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kiseruyoru

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Jun 1, 2016
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I'm aware that King is sometimes first and sometimes third person -- and almost always a limited third person, tho he cheats this a little by using so many psychic characters.

I couldn't tell you what was what tho. It all worked, and I just remember the story themselves. Plus, a lot of his third person is pretty functionally close to first person. I dunno, what really stands out to me is that it seems like a lot of his stories end with the narrator wrapping up the tale and dying (rats being involved strangely often).

That, and on weird page has stuck with me for years -- the narrator says something like "Come with me and you will see, we're crows looking down on the town" and it just kinda goes on like that with a narrator talking directly to you and I came so very, very close to throwing the book away. It was either The Black House, the Talisman, or both -- but I'm very sure both books were rocky. Decent enough plots, especially The Talisman as I remember, but oh that narration was occasionally so dang grating.
 
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