I wonder if when writers get a new idea, they think to themselves, “Hey, that’s a novel idea,” and chuckle every time.
When it comes to matters like this one, I don’t think pros and cons really exist. It’s a matter of what works best for your story and your characters. Therefore, I’ll point out a list of some of the most prominent aspects of the two perspectives, and leave it for you to decide what fits your story best.
First person perspective:
- Direct connection between your character and your readers. Your readers will be “living” inside your character’s mind for as long as the story lasts, and therefore they will get to have a faster connection with the character they’re learning the story from.
- Limited information. Everything we learn is limited to what your character has experienced. Anything important that happens when your character is not present cannot be learnt by the reader unless someone describes the event to your character. (Assuming you are going to be writing from the perspective of only one character. This certainly doesn’t apply if you will be alternating between perspectives).
- Subjective Narrative. With a first person perspective, your readers have less room to evaluate situations and characters, as their perspectives will always be clouded by the character’s. If you want your readers to judge situations and characters, you might have it harder if you choose to go with a first person narrative.
- More intimate and realistic story. In real life, we live inside our own selves, and therefore, when we’re reading a story that’s written in first person narrative, we get a more realistic feeling of it. It’s like we’re actually inside the story, rather than just listening to it.
- Show don’t tell? It’s harder to show instead of telling when it comes to a first person narrative. It definitely can be done, but some books written from a first person perspective often end up with a lot more telling than showing - which isn’t always a drawback. Telling instead of showing is often done a lot more efficiently in books written from a first person perspective and you can often get away with telling more than showing when you’re going for a first person perspective rather than a third person one.
- Too much introspection. When we are reading book written in first person, we often find ourselves dwelling inside the characters mind while they wonder about every single worldly problem and thinks about the meaning of their own life. Does it really matter to the story line? More often than not, no, it doesn’t. It might be great for character development, hence why introspection shouldn’t be completely eradicated, but it definitely slows down the story and takes the focus out of what really matters.
Third person perspective:
- Possibility of omniscience. Of course, you can write from a third person perspective and still not have an omniscient narrator - that’s where third person limited comes in, in which case the advantages and drawbacks of its use would be similar to those of first person perspectives -, but here you can be omniscient and that can be both good and bad. It definitely makes it harder to create suspense - If you have an omniscient narrator and hide things from your readers they could have known all along, they might feel cheated. On the other hand, they can receive more knowledge than they would with a first person perspective or a third person limited one.
- Character Emphasis. It gives you the opportunity to develop all your characters equally, have your readers know a bit about all of them and put emphasis on more than one person at the same time.
- Too Much Information. When you have a God-like narrator, that knows everything about everyone, you often run the risk of providing the reader with information they definitely don’t need. You want to develop your characters and your settings so much that you forget to ask yourself whether the information you are including is actually relevant to the story line. While in first person narration you run the risk of too much introspection, here you run the risk of feeling like your readers need so much information that you end up giving them all at once. Space out your info dumps, if you’re going to go with this sort of perspective, and all will be well.
- More quick scene transitions. Third person narration allows you to jump between scenes faster, because you can leave one character having dinner in New York and then pick up the story with another character back in London.
- Distancing the readers and the characters. Again, this can be both good and bad. You have a harder job allowing your readers to connect with your characters, but at the same time you always allow them to judge them by their own values. You give your readers the freedom to form an opinion on your characters and settings that is not clouded by anyone’s perception but their own.
Ultimately, try choosing what you think works best for your story and what fits your purpose best. Good luck!
For further reading:
Colons may not be super common in fiction, but like all punctuation, it’s important to get it right! Grammar matters. To start, colons and semi-colons are generally not interchangeable. At times you can use one or the other without much difference, but for the most part they each have specific rules for usage!
Colons can be used to start a list mid sentence. If it can read as a normal sentence without the colon, then you don’t need the colon.
Please pack the following items: fresh clothes, a sleeping bag, a toothbrush, and deodorant. (correct)
What would you rather do: go to the park, or see a movie? (correct)
My skills include: cooking, writing, and sleeping. (incorrect—the colon is not needed.)
My skills include: cooking, writing, and sleeping. (correct—no colon.)
More formally, the colon has a few usages you may be familiar with:
The time is 8:40.
Albatross (noun): a large white ocean bird that has very long wings.
To Whom It May Concern:
Occasionally, the colon can be used to connect two clauses, whether they’re dependent or independent. This is similar to the semi-colon, but not quite the same. For the colon, it tends to be in a “giving an answer” sort of expansion on the first sentence. This bleeds into the informal writing allowed for creative writers, but you should avoid it in formal essays!
Silver lining: if I ever proved him wrong, I could rub it in his face.
He got what he worked for: a promotion.
And let me tell you: that man was no fool.
For the last two, I can see how an em dash could have also worked. It all depends on what effect you’re aiming for. Sometimes both work so well that you should just pick one and stop fretting over it! There are times for colons, times for em dashes, and times for semi-colons. And there are times when the difference between one and another is almost negligible. Figuring out when that is often is just a matter of practice, experience, and lots of reading!
Color actually influences the ways we think and this often occurs without our awareness. In my cognitive psychology class, my professor talked about a study where blue can cause us to feel more relaxed and think more creatively while red causes us to feel more alert and think more attentively. And how the color affects us depends on our association we have for the colors.
Everyone shares different experiences, but for many the color red is related to ‘ambulance, stop signs, red lights’ that causes us to pay more attention while blue is related to the ‘sky’ which makes us feel free and more opened.
The study conducted by Ravi Mehta, professor of business specializing in consumer behavior, had participants perform a series of psychological tasks that were either attention-based (red) or creativity-based (blue) backgrounds. Then the subjects were asked to choose toothpaste that either prevented cavities or whitened teeth. The participants who were affected by the color red were more likely to choose the cavities prevention while the blue participants chose the whitening teeth.
Participants exposed to the tasks in the red background were subconsciously primed to become more careful. The red reminded them of stop signs, stop lights, ambulance that cause them to avoid or choose things that helped them avoid some problems (in this case, cavities).
While the participants exposed to the blue background were reminded of the sky, freedom and growth. So they choose to approach situations that helped them gain. In this case, to gain whiter teeth.
Colors, hence, do really play in our cognition. We are affected by different colors and we don’t even know it. The effects are real. Since we know this, we might want to be more observant and careful.
Bonus Studying Tip: To study more attentively, study with a red background or to think more creatively or be more creative, study with a blue background. A study in my class talked about how people doing tests in red papers as opposed to blue or white were able to score higher.
A comma splice is a grammar error that is created by joining two independent clauses (complete sentences) with a comma. It is one of the most common grammar mistakes; if you pay attention, you’ll encounter dozens of them each day.
Since we have two complete sentences, we would form a comma splice if we combined them by using just a comma:
We see comma splices everywhere, and it’s unfortunate that people don’t know how to correct them.
Here is an easy way to correct a comma splice:
There is another way to fix comma splices: use the “FANBOYS”:
IMPORTANT NOTE: If the sentences are short, the comma before each FANBOYS is optional. However, on the SAT and ACT exams, they ALWAYS require a comma.
The technical name for the FANBOYS is coordinating conjunction. The term itself isn’t important; what actually matters is the role that coordinating conjunctions play. So let’s take a random comma splice and fix it by using one of the FANBOYS:
The sentence is now correct. On standardized tests, comma splices are quite common. Placing one of the FANBOYS between the two independent clauses (i.e., complete sentences) solves this problem. Just be sure to pick the one that makes the most logical sense. (For instance, there is a big difference between “but” and “and,” so you have to pick the right word.)
Good luck on the SAT!