I want to start writing a full-length novel/story. A love story to be exact. I have been using first person and third person writing styles in my previous articles and short stories.
Now, I want more power over the emotions of both the lead characters, girl and boy. I want to be able to convey the feelings and thoughts of both the characters at the same time.
Which writing style should I choose? First or third person. I know first person gives me more power over emotions but that would be limited to just one character.

1 Answer 1


I know third person gives me more power over emotions but that would be limited to just one character. No. With third person omniscient narrator freely switching the followed character, you can easily flip between the two. Such switches are not nearly as freely available with first person, where you must follow one character for a full section.

It boils down to "easy to apply" vs "difficult, but strong." The old mantra of "show, don't tell".

It's easy to tell emotions of both characters with third person omniscient narrator, who can just peek into heads of both. So, it gives you "more authority", there's no doubt if the frown is suspicion, anger or ache.

With first person, it's easy to tell emotions of the current narrator (you can still show and you should, but you don't have to), but you are forced to show all emotions of the other. It's also very personal, very immersive. You need more skill, and it takes more work, but if done right, the effects are stronger. (though it's easier to mess it up, for very poor effects). You may switch perspective between the two, to ease the burden a little, but it's another thing that can be messed up if not done skillfully and weakens immersion.

Then there's third person limited, (or first person which is bound to a third character; the narrator not in the main cast), which will be most difficult, because you have to show both, and you don't have the easily available depth of immersion of first person. It can be strongest if done masterfully, and it's also the easiest to mess up, simply because you just can't tell (or you break the immersion and make it very cheesy) and showing always takes more text to write out, running at risk of boring the reader with sheer volume of text needed to convey anything longer.

Personally, I'd go with first person, as it offers a decent balance between difficulty of writing and power of emotion conveyed, with a nice added bonus of strong immersion. If doing it from a single character's perspective turns out difficult, you can accept switching perspectives between sections/chapters to provide "the opposite point of view". Though if you are a beginner, you may prefer third person with omniscient narrator - it's "cheaper" but it's harder to mess up.

  • Sorry. I made the edit. I meant to say "I know first person gives me more power over emotions but that would be limited to just one character." Mar 16, 2015 at 9:37
  • Thanks for such detailed answer. I was about to go with third person but Yes, I had exactly the same thoughts that immersion will not be developed much. You see, I just want to show the emotions and feelings and thoughts of two persons at the same time. They are having a conversation and I want to narrate the inner feelings of both of them in the same chapter. How can I do that? It's a love story so emotions of both of them are necessary I believe. I cannot just wait for one chapter to end to start emotions of the other character. What choices do I have now? Mar 16, 2015 at 9:42
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    @Namechangedtomaskidentity: If you want to narrate both with the same degree of freedom, then third person is a must. Now, your choice bewteen omniscient narrator (can peer into heads of characters, read their feelings and thoughts) and limited (can only report what is being visible) is the trade-off between difficulty and top quality. The latter is much harder to execute right, convey the right things at decent pace. Emotions are much harder to "handle" but the effects may be better. Still, I think you'd do well with omniscient - a simple third person where you can just report the emotions.
    – SF.
    Mar 16, 2015 at 9:52
  • Thanks. I will go with the third person now. That way is easier and provides more freedom. Mar 16, 2015 at 9:54

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