Mixing First and Third Person

27 Feb

003Well welcome back to the writing site for writers, by writers, about writing. I hope you are finding this helpful.

No takers on the guest blog today so I guess I’ll go it alone.

But first, a quote.


Quality is decided by the depth at which the work incorporates the alternatives within itself, and so masters them.

Theodor Adorno
I looked long and hard for a quote that would fit the thought of the day and this one seems to do it nicely.


I have mentioned on several sites that I am done with the first draft of my novel “The Long Walk Home.”  After I finished that first draft I was talking about it with Bev’s daughter Allora, and during that conversation she mentioned that perhaps I should try mixing first and third person voices in the novel.  I gave it some thought and realized how much more depth it would add, so this second draft is all about doing that.

For those of you who have never done this, it is not as easy as it may sound.  As you well know, first person is written as though the main character is the one speaking.  Third person is the story told through the eyes of someone not involved in the story.  That is a quick summary of the two but I’m sure you understand.

The first draft of my novel was told completely in first person.  Thanks to Allora I realized that two other characters in the novel, who are very important to the story, needed more depth.  Third person allows me to do that.  Now I am going back through the entire novel and adding those passages in third person and “fleshing out” those two other characters.  I think it will be very effective when I am done.


When mixing first and third person, I would suggest writing the novel in one voice first, and then going back and adding the other voice. It is quite hard to bounce back and forth between first and third person, and mistakes are easily made when you try to do it.


A Saturday drive in late April, 2012 014

Remember your five senses when you look at this picture.  Write 200 words describing the picture using all five senses.  This is a great writing exercise to get you in the habit of using those senses, which will mean that your readers will be able to relate to your writing much better.


I would love to have a poet guest blog here.  Christy?  Audrey?  Any of you? I think we need to hear some thoughts from the true poets among us and not from me all the time. I may be a poet at heart but I am no poet.


I was going to break into song and sing “Happy Trails To You” but decided against it.  Have a great day, great Friday and an even greater weekend.


“Helping writers to spread their wings and fly.”

27 Responses to “Mixing First and Third Person”

  1. Audrey Howitt February 27, 2014 at 4:15 pm #

    I can see how mixing first and third person would help add depth, but I agree–difficult to do. You are an inspiration Bill!

    • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

      Thank you Audrey! I happen to love your work as well.

  2. Janine Huldie February 27, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

    I love that Bev’s daughter gave you this insight and can’t wait to see what you came up with. And I bow to those ladies you mentioned with poetry, because like you I have never really been a true poet at heart either. So, look forward to see if anyone takes you up on your guest poetry offer. And wishing you a great rest of your Thursday now! 🙂

    • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

      Thank you Janine. I can’t wait to see what I come up with either. LOL Have a great day my friend.

  3. 1authorcygnetbrown February 27, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I too often use first person to get the view of a character and then change it to third person in later drafts.I often will do this from the POV of several characters. It takes time, but it does add depth to scenes. I also try to write using all five senses to help develop too. I definitely that the more techniques that we use in our writing development, the better our writing becomes.

    • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 5:41 pm #

      All great points Donna! Thank you for sharing your experience.

  4. authorklsilver February 27, 2014 at 6:00 pm #

    You’re so busy you don’t know friday from thursday my friend! lol..
    Congrats again on finishing hte first draft of your novel…
    in my opine – the first is the easiest – now comes the real work – making it work!
    Maybe i shouldn’t say too much considering you’re reading my finished work..(gnawing nails to quick)
    I’m glad you’re changing it to 1st and 3rd – i’m not a huge fan of all 1st person – altho – there are exceptions of course!
    Have a great weekend, Bill – even if yours is starting early!

    • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 6:09 pm #

      You got that right, Sis! I don’t have a clue what day it is half the time. LOL Thanks for stopping by. Keep being patient; I’m making progress on your book. 🙂

  5. Ruchira Khanna February 27, 2014 at 6:13 pm #

    yes, I agree Bill

    It adds depth to a novel when these two tenses are mixed. I have tried mixing these two in my currently published novel 🙂

    • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 6:43 pm #

      Very good to hear, Ruchira. Thank you!

  6. Shauna L Bowling February 27, 2014 at 7:10 pm #

    Mixing first and third person sounds interesting, but difficult. I seem to only use first person when a character is speaking; the rest of the story is written in third person.

    What exactly are you looking for in a poet guest post, Bill? Advice? A poem? Tips?

    • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

      Sha, you see how the blog is set up….just write it any old way you want. 🙂 I hope you do.

      • Shauna L Bowling February 27, 2014 at 7:20 pm #

        I’ll have to think about it. I write my poetry by the seat of my pants whenever the mood strikes me. I don’t really have a set procedure and definitely don’t follow any rules of structure..

      • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 7:52 pm #

        It seems to me, Sha, like that’s a blog in itself. People like to hear the process others use. This blog is all about sharing our thoughts.

      • Shauna L Bowling February 27, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

        K. Let me work on it over the weekend. I’ll get back with you.

  7. Clear-eyed Sky February 27, 2014 at 8:26 pm #

    Skylar wants that pink canoe. Make it happen, Papa Bill. 😀

    • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 9:25 pm #

      Sklar’s wish is my command my dear. 🙂

  8. Lea Tartanian February 27, 2014 at 8:29 pm #

    Wow Bill, I always thought doing that was a major ‘no-no’. Most of the time I write in first person, but I am a non-fiction writer, except when I entered short story contests at my place of employment when I was working. SO GLAD to know it is allowed! I can’t wait to read your novel! You continue to inspire and motivate. God bless, Sparklea/aka Lea 🙂

    • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 9:26 pm #

      Lea, it is actually done quite often. I just don’t think people notice it when they are reading it. A lot of mysteries employ that style. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by; sending a hug your way.

  9. TLPoague February 27, 2014 at 10:07 pm #

    I tried this once and have to agree. It does give some of your characters more depth. I will get back with you on your prompt of the day. It sounds like a fun challenge. Thanks!

    • Billybuc February 27, 2014 at 10:13 pm #

      Thanks TJ…this is the first time I’ve tried it and I love it.

  10. Eyes Straight Ahead (Shell Vera) February 28, 2014 at 4:47 am #

    I like this quote – something I need to apply…

    • Billybuc February 28, 2014 at 5:27 am #

      Me too…it took me long enough to find it. 🙂

  11. Melanie Chisnall February 28, 2014 at 11:19 am #

    Well I for one can’t wait until you release this book. And I’m not just saying that. It sounds like you’ve poured your heart and soul into it 🙂 What a way to tie up the first quarter of the year (almost!) Have a super weekend Bill!

    • Billybuc February 28, 2014 at 3:06 pm #

      Well, Mel, I sure hope it’s as good as everyone wants it to be. LOL Can you imagine if it is a horrible book? I’ll never get anyone to read anything by me again. 🙂 Have a great weekend, Mel, and thank you.

  12. Kelly Umphenour March 2, 2014 at 6:47 pm #

    Interesting to think about! I like the idea of mixing it up…it’s great you have someone so helpful in looking at your work with a critical eye who also adds interest ideas!

    • Billybuc March 2, 2014 at 6:57 pm #

      Thanks Kelly! I think it adds a whole new dimension to writing and it is one I plan on using in the future…and you are right, I am very lucky to have people who are willing to help me.

Leave a Reply to Shauna L Bowling Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: