I am writing a fiction. I start in first person(I) and then because I had to describe emotions of other characters simultaneously I switched to third person, (referring as she, they or the name of character). The story keeps switching in first and third person so that the reader can get the personal view of different character. Is it acceptable?

  • Stephen King is famous for his head-hopping point of view. It is usually recommended that aspiring writers abstain from this sloppiness.
    – user5645
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 6:45
  • So if is first and third? Not first and second, as the title of the question states?
    – Lew
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 3:37
  • @Lew Thanks for pointing that out. Don't know how come I did not notice it.
    – Nikki
    Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 5:07
  • You asked if that's acceptable. I would have asked myself instead and am now asking you. Would it be acceptable? When you proof read what you write do you say to yourself 'hmm can I understand that?', 'can I relate to that?','that is definitely what I wanted to write'. ? Commented Nov 29, 2016 at 15:41
  • @user6035379 As you have asked I love the way I have written and I enjoy reading it but I'd like to avoid any negative critics if there is such a rule to stick-to-one-person-writing style. Honestly, I think it's great the way the story includes another person's perspective, I can relate to it well enough because it is 'my ' imagination and 'I' have written it. Readers might not always relate to my style of writing. So I just wanted to know if there were any such novels written and read in such style and I got it's answer. Thankyou for considering my question, though.
    – Nikki
    Commented Nov 30, 2016 at 2:53

1 Answer 1


Anything is acceptable if you make it work. For an example of a book that makes this work (brilliantly) see Cormac McCarthy's No Country for Old Men.

But any change in narrative style calls attention to itself and therefore has to be handled with care and skill. It may be more acceptable to the reader of a literary novel like No Country for Old Men than of a genre fantasy or romance, for instance, where the reader is often just in it for the yarn and is not interested in, or appreciative of, literary effects.

In other words, if you are doing it because you are a beginner struggling with narrative technique, it likely is not going to work and you would be better advised to pick one narrative method and stick to it. If you are a skilled author experimenting with different narrative methods to achieve a literary effect, you may be able to pull it off.

We should also note that even in books that are ostensibly told from a first-person stream of consciousness point of view, the author can get away occasionally with telling us things about how other characters think or feel that would not be obvious to the narrator character in the moment. Jack Kerouac does this several times in On the Road. This is not necessarily jarring to the reader if it supplies information that is necessary or appropriate in the moment.

Also, don't feel that you have to comply with the current fashion for first person narrative. It is faddish among writers at the moment, but difficult and limiting. Third person is the natural narrative voice of the world's literature. If you are uncomfortable in the straightjacket of first person, write in third.

  • Thankyou for the advice. It's a relief to know. Thanks for reffering the book too.
    – Nikki
    Commented Nov 25, 2016 at 15:06

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