First Person Vs Third Person Viewpoints

The first person perspective tells the story intermediated through the experience of a single experiencer. This viewpoint provides it’s own subjectivity and context. The third person perspective focuses on telling the story, by the ‘storyteller’, which may be swayed from a particular character’s perspective or from multiple character viewpoints. Multiple first person viewpoint stories are, by definition, not told from the perspective of a single experiencer. They are really third person stories wrapped in chapters that use the stylistic immediacy of the first person viewpoint.

The third person viewpoint does allow the reader to experience a character’s thoughts. The difference between the two depends a lot on what the reader finds most immersive — the protagonist’s experience or the storyteller and the storytelling itself. There’s a huge amount of personal preference involved.

I like the first person experience, living inside the protagonists head. It emphasises the character’s experience over a more complete telling of the story. But, the first person can veer towards solipsism if handled badly.

The third person perspective places more importance on the bigger picture, how characters relate to other characters and wider events.

The first person viewpoint works well with surprise and revelation. The third person works well for suspense (which is based on knowing more of the story elements but not knowing when it how they will come into conflict with one another). In many ways, the third person viewpoint is the more optimised storytelling option. But a lot of it comes down to personal preference — where the reader prefers to be when they read a story.