Being the Voice in Someone Else’s Head

Posted on 08/05/2012 by


So, I think I definitely could switch Wizards to third person. Because I had an idea about how to do it and I think it could be good…

The plan, weirdly, has a lot to do with swearing. Or at least, where the swearing occurs.* That sounds odd but… okay, look at it this way. The particular advantage to third person is that it allows you to include things your characters don’t know. Generally this is not something that I take advantage of. When I write third, I write close third — so I’m in a particular character’s head, seeing what they see, sharing their thoughts, limited to their understanding of what’s going on.

The advantage to first person — at least for me — is that it’s not just close, it’s brutally personal.** And that’s something that really works for Wizards. But you know what? There’s no real reason I can’t write it third person and just get up behind their eyeballs and stay there — embrace not just their thought process but their complete running commentary infusing everything. I just have to put my head somewhere slightly different.

And the easiest way to signal the shift, to frame it for myself, is to remember the swearing. See, usually if I’m writing third person and my character swears it’s a direct thought or verbalisation. In first person they’re much more likely to use invective in description or general process, because everything is stream of consciousness on some level.

So I just need to take a tiny little step mentally over here


* Which is maybe a bit odd given one of my characters doesn’t really. Swear, that is.

** It doesn’t have to be that way. You can frame first person like a diary, a tale written by the protagonist… all sorts of things. But my favourite way is to just be the person and let the story flow.