First or Third?

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First or Third?

Post  FlayerIV on Tue Apr 25, 2017 7:14 pm

Hey there!

I've just started work on a new novel, and I'm debating between first and third person. I'm quite personally aware of the benefits of each system, but I'm honestly wondering which of these immediately grabs people as a better way of writing THIS story. Below is the same scene rendered in third and first (with some minor changes according to the style). Each is about 500 words long so it's not much.

Give me your thoughts! Feedback greatly appreciated!

THIRD PERSON

Jeff woke suddenly with a cold sweat. He looked around panicked as he tried to take in his surroundings. It took him longer than he would have liked to recognise where he was. He was in his bed, his assigned bed, in the __ general barracks. He grabbed his face, felt his own smooth, clean shaven chin and wiped away his sweat. It was real. This was real again.
The dreams were getting more and more realistic. At first they'd just been fleeting moments, like memories or any other dream, but they were getting worse. He could taste it that time. The sand in the air. The sweat on his chest. He rubbed his hand across his chest. It came back wet. Okay, maybe the sweat was real, but it was cold here, in the dream it had been warm. Sweat from exertion, and he'd felt it. Something was very, very wrong.
Jeff reached for his phone. A few seconds later the phone was ringing.
“Doctor Baxter?” he asked. “It's Jeffrey Finn. It happened again.”

* * *

Doctor Baxter wiped the sleep out of his eyes as he struggled to pay attention to his client's story. It was the same story he'd heard in the last two sessions. Jeff was a gladiator in an arena in some Roman desert, fighting for the pleasure of the mob. It certainly sounded like a harmless dream, but at this point it was anything but. Jeff was insisting that he could feel it, and that was a problem.
“You said over the phone,” he spoke more into the recorder than to his patient, “That the hallucinations are getting worse.”
“Yeah,” Jeff answered.
“Can you describe it?”
“Well at the time I can feel everything, not just the pain and exertion, I can taste the sand and feel the sweat on my chest.” -Doctor Baxter angled the recorder to pick up Jeff's words better- “I used to dream about training, back during bootcamp, I thought it was just my subconscious re-consolidating knowledge you know? Like doing wrestling moves in my mind, but now it's just gladiator fight after gladiator fight, and executions and strange smelling bags.”
Baxter raised an eyebrow. “Strange smelling bags?” Not a small amount of curiosity in his voice.
“Um, last night, the dream ended with me talking to some senator, I don't remember what he was offering me, but I know I declined and the next thing I know there's this big, thick bag over my head and some pungent smell.”


FIRST PERSON

I woke suddenly in a cold sweat. The room was dark, grey, stange. It took me a lot longer than I thought possible to realise where I was. I was in my bed, my assigned bed. I grabbed at my face, felt my chin. It was real. This was real.
I took a deep breath. The dreams were getting more and more realistic. At first they'd just been fleeting moments, like memories or any other dream, but they were getting worse. I could taste it that time. The sand in the air. The hot sweat on my chest. I rubbed my hand across my chest. It came back cold and wet. Okay, maybe the sweat was real, but I'd felt it in the dream too. Something was very, very wrong.
I reached for my phone. A few seconds later the phone was ringing.
“Doctor Baxter?” I asked. “It's Jeffrey Finn. It happened again.”

* * *

Doctor Baxter wiped the sleep out of his eyes as he struggled to pay attention. I didn't blame him. It was the same story he'd heard in the last three sessions past. Stories about fighting as a Roman gladiator for the pleasure of the mob. Did I say three sessions? I meant four now. And every one of them ending in the same, hot-cold sweat.
“You said over the phone,” Baxter rubbed his forehead. He angled the audio recorder to pick up my voice better, “That the hallucinations are getting worse.”
“Yeah,” I answered. Worse didn't even begin to cover it.
“Can you describe it?”
I had to think about it for a moment. Ever had those moments where you wish you could just mentally dump all of your thoughts and memories into another person? I felt like that now.
“Well at the time I could feel everything, not just the pain and exertion, I could taste the sand and feel the sweat.” I gestured towards my shirt. I hadn't checked but I was sure it was still visible under the collar. “I used to dream about training, back during bootcamp, like doing wrestling moves in my mind, but now it's just gladiator fight after gladiator fight, and executions and strange smelling bags.”
I saw Baxter raise an eyebrow. “Strange smelling bags?” I could hear the curiosity in his voice. Oh, right. I hadn't mentioned that part.
“Um, last night, the dream ended with me talking to some senator, I don't remember what he was offering me, but I know I declined and the next thing I know there's this big, thick bag over my head and some pungent smell.”


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Re: First or Third?

Post  LordTomyh on Thu Apr 27, 2017 9:19 pm

Reading both of them I think you should go with third person. I can't exactly explain it but it read better, was more descriptive and engaging than the first person

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