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Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago

I've had this account for a while now but I haven't been on the site much so everything's still quite new to me.

I'm used to writing in third person limited, but so far all of the stories I've played have used the pronoun "you" to describe the protagonist. Obviously this makes sense, it is supposed to be the reader's experience after all. I'm just worried that if I try writing in third person, it may end up pulling the reader out of the story too much.

I guess my question is, do you think writing in third person limited can work? Or will there be too much of a disconnect between the reader and the protagonist? If you have any advice or know of any story games that use third person successfully, let me know.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
Third person is fine. I do find second to be a bit more immersive but good writing is good writing. Father Leofwine Is Dead is written in third, and there are a few others as well as some stories that use both, with third for certain scenes or POV switches away from the main character.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago

Thanks for the help! I'll give it a read and see if I like how it works.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
My latest game published uses both first and third person if you're interested. With 2nd person POV it's easy to get caught in the "you do this," "you do that" trap. Most of the time, the main character is already established so it's not like you're ruining a reader's insertion into the MC. With third person POV, I've found it's easier to describe the scene around a person, rather than simply "telling."

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago

Sounds interesting, I'll make sure to check it out. I definitely get what you mean about getting caught in a trap, I guess third person just feels a bit more natural to me.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
There's advantages and disadvantages to writing in first, second, or third person. A lot depends on what you want to do and where you want the story to go.

First person can let you set the story from the character's view and only the character's view. This limits what you can do, but it can make the story easier to write in some ways. Everything is literally only what the character sees and experiences.

Second person is likely the most common, especially in CYS stories. This does attempt to immerse the reader in the story and can do so quite well. At the same time, it really limits some things because if your story's main character is a six-foot-three bodybuilder, when anyone who is not a six-foot-three bodybuilder reads the story, they might not relate with the story. Also, options might be less realistic for a reader who doesn't have the experiences that you're writing about.

Third person tends to give the writer the most flexibility, but it also tends to take the reader out of the story. Instead of being part of the story, or feeling the characters in the story, often the reader of these stories will feel like they are watching the story.

In other words, the story can be written from any of the different points of view, that's why they exist. But the needs of the story, the writer, and the reader can help define which of the points of view would make the story the best.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
Six foot three Samoan transwoman aromantic bodybuilder with heterochromia and BPD please, I think it's about time they got more representation.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
I like third person. For non-CYOAs, I like it best, but for CYOAs I still like it a lot.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
And in a way, I think third person can actually be one of the most difficult to write: especially for beginning writers. Mainly the problem is that there are literally no limitations. The writer can move, shift, and do quite literally anything to advance the story. For new writers, this can be overwhelming because the options are unlimited. When you force the writer, story, and reader into first person, suddenly the options are very limited, and often that limitation can help the new writer work on the actual story and advancing the story, rather than trying to figure out what/where/who happens next!

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
Before I got into IF, third person past like in most regular novels was the most natural seeming thing to me. It feels *really* weird trying to write that way now, although it doesn't bother me to read it.

It definitely did create some kind of Mexican jumping bean effect in my earliest writing though, in my attempts at novels I'd just spastically switch POVs every other scene. "I'm bored with this now so MEANWHILE, here are some unrelated characters and events in another place, don't worry this will all tie together...somehow....much later....probably at some point after I completely abandon this story..."

But it did give a really nice sense of scale to my epic universes tbf. Just not much by way of a coherent plot.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago

I'm confused. When you say there are no limitations, do you mean like having a omniscient narrator that just knows the thoughts and feelings of every character?

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
That's certainly part of it. Also, as mizal pointed out, the author can write about anything at any time.

For example, if you are writing in first-person only and the main character is walking down the street, you can only talk about and show what's happening on that street. Anything a block away is simply out of bounds because the character cannot see it. You have the character's eyes and thoughts and there's nothing else you can do as a writer. The character can try and interpret thoughts of others, but that's only what the character thinks. You can't jump to a different scene where the character isn't present. It can really help the beginning writer because there's just one place to go: the main character.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago

Right, that makes sense. If I was going to write in third person, I'd definitely keep it to the perspective of just one character. I don't want to try to do anything too complicated for now.

I think the main reason I want to write in third person is just because I like the protagonist to actually be a fully formed character with a history, instead of just being a blank slate that the reader can decide the identity of. So, if it's important to the story that a character is a coward, I find it easier to write that in third person, because telling the reader that they are a coward seems kinda forced.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
....nothing about a story being written in second person implies the character is a blank slate. See: nearly every story on the site.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
See also this thread. Someone ought to get some use out of it anyway since the OP just screwed off somewhere without reading any of the responses.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago

Yeah sorry, I should've worded that better. I didn't mean it's a problem with second person writing, I just meant that I sometimes feel like I'm forcing character traits onto the reader while trying to write in second person.

Probably best for me to just read a lot more stories and get familiar with things before trying to write anything.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
Browsing through a few of the featured stories at least is always a good idea, even if only because they're good stories. And most featured authors have written other things, so you can identify specific authors with a style you enjoy that way. Really though all the first/second/third person stuff has nothing to do with the character and everything with how the storygame is structured and presented. Different styles work for different people and different stories. Second is my preference but I'm working on one now where it just made sense to have some scenes in third, with 'you' only coming in when the characters separate and the player picks the POV to take over.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
And honestly, again, my suggestion to the inexperienced writer is to go with first person for this very reason. Instead of saying the main character is a coward, if you write from the first person perspective, you will be forced to show that the main character is a coward. That's going to be more effective when you describe the thoughts and action that make the person a coward rather than just having a secondary character just calling the person a coward.

Also, when I mention writing in first person, that's the point of view of the main character. Basically you're going to be referring to the main character as "I." I think perhaps you're thinking of the CYOA where the reader is supposed to be the main character. Usually that's more of a second-person view, as the reader will be called "you." And yes, you can use "you" to refer to the reader and character in third person as well.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
Well now you're just confusing him.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
Was that not the goal?

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago

Ha ha, yep a little bit. I'm just going to try to read as many stories as I can and find out what I like most.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
None of this logic stuff stopped Melville and Ishmael smh

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago
Commended by mizal on 5/20/2020 8:11:16 PM

I don't think I've read many CYOAs where third person did work. Or first person for that matter. If I did, it must have been good, becaus things like PoV and dialogue tags are something that should melt away in proper immersive writing. I'm sure it could work, but ultimately if you've managed to reach the nebulous point where your writing is good enough to pull it off, it tends to blend into the background noise as most narrative does, and doesn't have that much more than a subconscious effect.

The thing that takes me out of first person is that it feels like someone else is telling me something they did, so when it comes time for a choice, a lot of work has to be done to pull that off without a hitch, because under most normal circumstances, a person telling you that story would be well aware of what happens in it. From a third person perspective, things do work a little better than first, but something feels strange about making decisions for other people, though I suppose that's just years of experience with the other voice messing with me. I could get used to other story PoVs.

But I feel like using "you" pronouns is nothing restrictive at all. If you truly made a fleshed out character, that would be readily apparent. They'll likely have their own name, they'll say things without your input, and also perform actions of their own accord, their choices will be limitted to solutions that they would come up with. It's readily apparent to anyone who isn't stupid that Suzy or numerous other Endmaster protagonists aren't supposed to be the reader, and seeing a narrative directly from the eyes of a character does not necessarily mean you're supposed to be them.

Consider most First-person games, which are more or less the equivalent of visual media addressing the character as "You" and centering what happens around "You" specifically. Sure, some protagonists aren't fleshed out and are made to be blank slates, but the Postal Dude is definitely his own person with his own nueroses and not supposed to be the player at all. You're just faced with the choices he would've had, and allowed to choose from the options he would've picked.

Of course the person "controlling" the character will imprint some part of themselves on that character, but that's true of any character with any degree of separation from the audience. Characters are supposed to be related to in some way, that's why we don't write about furniture. If seeing the world directly through someone's eyes and only having their sensory input to the story meant that they had to be blank slates and the reader themselves had to provide all the input, then we wouldn't have characters like Duke Nukem, Master Chief, the TF2 Mercernaries, and so on and whatnot. But those are only Action Game protagonists, an entirely different medium just to easily illustrate the point because my brain is small and tree-shaped and thinks only in images with long monologues.

In storygames, you have even less control of what the player character is doing, so the actions they perform independently of the audience should shine the most. That's a Storygame's strength. There are plenty of actual storygames on this site that prove your thesis wrong to begin with. I daresay most featured games on the site are not possessed of blank slate protagonists, but they are second-person.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago

Fair point. I guess details like what PoV you use are kinda trivial when compared to the quality of the writing as a whole. I'm just not very familiar with second person writing, and CYAOs in general, but that first person game analogy actually helped me understand a bit more so thanks for that.

As for the blank slate thing I said... I didn't mean to imply that second person writing inherently has blank slate protagonists. It's just that in my head, third person seems like the most fitting choice for a character that is fleshed out. But that's just me being inexperienced.

Writing in Third Person Limited?

one month ago

On the contrary, I feel like if I'm going to be fleshing out a character a lot, being directly in that character's head is one of the best ways to flesh them out. Of course, that's something generally limitted to protagonists, but second person allows a much more intimate view of a person because they're right there, not being observed from any distance, but actually the only vehicle you have with which to experience this world. It's almost perverted, really.