First person vs. Second person vs. Third person - Rebekah Bergman
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A story’s opening must orient and immerse the reader while establishing a point of view. Here is a guide of ten of literature’s greatest first lines.
Novelist TaraShea Nesbit analyzes a trend in contemporary fiction: first person plural. In novels like Justin Torres’ We the Animals and Julia Otsuka’s The Buddha in the Attic, a “we” tells all or part of the story while individual characters still distinguish themselves. This point of view helps foreground human connectedness and convey collective experiences.
Shifting the point of view for no reason will disorient the reader. But when used intentionally, a shift can be incredibly powerful. Jessica Stoffer’s “Beginning, End” opens as if in second person before a first-person narrator emerges. The resulting tale is made all the more heartbreaking and intimate because it is told not just from an “I” but also to a “you.”
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