What are the various advantages of writing in first and third person?

Publish date:

Beginning Writer's Answer Bookedited by Jane Friedman

First-person viewpoint involves only one character (presumably your protagonist) and permits close reader identification. The disadvantage is that all other characters must be developed strictly through their actions and dialogue as observed by the protagonist, which can be difficult and limiting.

Image placeholder title

Third-person omniscient viewpoint allows you to get inside many characters’
heads and explore multiple viewpoints. You can also tell or show
things that would not be known to any of the characters. In the case of third-person limited viewpoint, you can show the way your protagonist perceives and reacts to events throughout an entire novel, and make him very well rounded and demanding of reader sympathy.

To choose the best point of view for your story, you might try writing several different passages, each with a different point of view and central character. Play around and see if anything fits. Don’t be discouraged if this exercise makes things worse; many great novelists come to realize the “right” point of view only after putting many months of work into a manuscript.


Jane K. Cleland: On Writing the Successful Long-Running Series

Award-winning mystery author Jane K. Cleland describes what it's like to write a long-running book series and offers expert advice for the genre writer.

writer's digest wd presents

WD Presents: #StartWrite, Virtual Conference, and New Courses

This week, we’re excited to announce free resources to start your writing year off well, our Novel Writing Virtual Conference, and more!


20 Most Popular Writing Posts of 2020

We share a lot of writing-related posts throughout the year on the Writer's Digest website. In this post, we've collected the 20 most popular writing posts of 2020.


Carla Malden: Writing With Optimism and Innocence

Screenwriter and author Carla Malden explains why young adult fiction and the '60s go hand-in-hand and how she connected with her main character's voice.


Writing Mistakes Writers Make: Talking About the Work-in-Progress

The Writer's Digest team has witnessed many writing mistakes over the years, so we started this series to help identify them for other writers (along with correction strategies). This week's writing mistake writers make is talking about the work-in-progress.


Greta K. Kelly: Publishing Is a Marathon

Debut author Greta K. Kelly reveals how the idea for her novel sparked and the biggest surprise of her publication journey.

Poetic Forms

Mistress Bradstreet Stanza: Poetic Forms

Poetic Form Fridays are made to share various poetic forms. This week, we look at the Mistress Bradstreet stanza, an invented form of John Berryman.


Capital vs. Capitol (Grammar Rules)

Learn when to use capital vs. capitol with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.


On Writing to Give Grief Meaning and Write Out of Challenging Situations

Author Lily Dulan explains why writers have to be willing to go to difficult places inside themselves for their writing to make a positive impact on ourselves, others, and the world.