Jan Ellen Ferrigan

First Versus Third Person


If you read this blog, you may know that I am struggling to finish and publish a novel  – and that I actually did e-publish it for several hours a few weeks ago – only to panic that something about the story wasn’t right. I was mainly concerned that when I read the whole narrative at once, my main character sounded too snarky, egotistical and a little boring.

In an effort to “fix” my book, I read some middle grade books to try to see what they had and my book might be missing. I realized I much preferred books written in third versus first person. I wrote my book initially in first person because much of the narrative is supposed to come from journal writings of the main character. So for more than a few minutes, I had to convince myself that a better book was more important than my original ideas.

Now I am so glad I did.  In my humble opinion, third person, at least for a kids’ book sounds more magical and more fun.  Here’s a look at the beginning of my first chapter as it was in first person and as it is transformed in third person.

1st Person

My name is Lotto. Believe it or not, this is what I did last summer.

So you can understand, I have to begin last spring. Back then, my little sister, Riley and I lived with our foster mom, Ms. Shirley. We’d been in foster care for three years when Riley and I made cupcakes for Armond’s eighteenth birthday. That is when our crazy adventure began.


3rd Person

Armond closed his eyes. For a long time he just breathed in and out and didn’t say anything.

“Are you dead?” asked Lotto.

Armond opened his eyes and said, “I wish I could find Mom’s Cousin Baxter.”

The candle went out in a snuff. Some candy sparkles took flight and temporarily fluttered in the air of Ms. Shirley’s sunny kitchen.

“Did you even blow?” Riley gasped.


If you are interested, you can see the whole transformed first chapter on my writing page.

What are your thoughts/experiences with the two different perspectives in writing?


Author: janellenferrigan

Writer who likes to play outside

4 thoughts on “First Versus Third Person

  1. I prefer the third person for novels/stories etc. I can’t explain why, it just seems to ‘read’ better for me.

  2. Hi Jan, I can understand your dilemma as the two different styles both have their attractions for me! I think you made the right choice though, opting for the third person in this instance. It is difficult though and takes a lot of pondering, doesn’t it? Well done Jan, SN.

    • Yes, I think first person can be done well. Perhaps just not by me in this case:) Ironically, I think it is harder to write well in first person, but a lot people find it to be an easier perspective to begin writing in.

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