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I've been writing a One Piece fan fiction to improve my writing.

I foolishly decided to write it in first person and now I kinda want to change it to third person - but I'm already 97 pages into the book. Should I do it? This is the first piece of long-ish writing that I've done so i may just be crazy or something.

During a break I took from from that book, I worked on a different story, written in third person, and I think I liked it better. Now I want to redo pretty much the entire beginning and change the POV.

  • Do what you want to do, let there be no regrets – Flying Gambit Jan 18 '17 at 12:47
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I am always reminded of Anais Nin's line: "We are not writers. We are re-writers."

My experience has been that one should stay with the flow. If changing to TP is disruptive to ideas that are coming through, by no means change until the next draft.

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Which would you regret not doing more? Do that one.

If you think you will eventually revise it, the sooner you start the better. But if your writing is flowing, then it's probably best to continue as is.

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I shall go against the current.

Every person has a different approach to writing. For instance, I tend to draw a generalist plot (often a diagram of ideas and main events) first, then I start writing and, as the characters grow and gain flesh, and as I come to understand the characters and their motivations better, the general plot becomes more detailed (sometimes it is even changed and adjusted to the ideas that popped up as the writing proggressed). If, for some reason, I become disappointed with how I wrote some events or chapters, my motivation drops. I must go back and fix the problem or I'll go into an angsty writer block.

If the OP feels that he's so unhappy with the POV that it keeps him from moving on, then I would strongly advice to go back and revise. First, though, as I commented above, make sure you want to change the POV for the right reasons. A first person POV is not easy (and yet, when well used, even if only for certain chapters, it can be brilliant), but if one doesn't practice it, one will never get a hang of it.

Note:
I know my advice goes against the grain. I know that, for most people, re-reading and re-editing written chapters (searching for that ever elusive perfection) is a way of not writing more chapters. But a writer must take all types of advice to heart, understand where they're coming from, and choose their own path. My written chapters are usually not rough drafts; they're as close to the finished product as I can. That does not meant that, if something happens that requires foreshadowing, I cannot go back and add the necessary foreshadowing or hints or whatever to make sure everything flows as it should. It also doesn't mean that I am not able to go back and get rid of whole chapters if I feel they're really not necessary.

Assuming you have all the right reasons to change POV, think about how you write and what makes you feel comfortable: are you able to carry on with an entirely new voice, causing a break with what was previous written? Then do so. Do you feel like the not-fixed chapters are holding you back? Then rewrite it.

One last point: will rewriting everything now give you new insight into the characters, thus changing how you write them and how they react to events? If the answer is yes, go back and rewrite now. If you keep on writing only to later realise that no, A would never have said that and, therefore, event C should never have happened the way it did... that can be more time consuming and frustration inducing.

So, whatever you do, make sure it's for the right reason and that your 'creativity-productivity' is comfortable with it.

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Well my suggestion would be don't edit entire story. Goto first page... Do some edits like story told by third person till whatever you wrote.

Third person says "97 pages" From 97 wrote how you wanted to write.

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Change it now. Do it.

Working from a copy, start by searching the text for "I" and "me" and "my" words. Edit as necessary.

There is an important difference: "I" know everything about myself, and not much about anyone else. But the third-person author does not know everything about the main character, and knows a lot about others.

The issue is regarding scope of knowledge. A related issue is whether the narrator is telling the truth. A first-person narrator is truthful, or lying, or exaggerating, or mistaken. A third-person narrator is either truthful or uninformed. A first-person narrator cannot talk about something beyond direct experience. A third-person narrator may do that, although sometimes a third-person narrator only describes what the main character would be expected to know. Yes, there are gradations and exceptions, but those are useful guidelines.

First-person narration is quite useful when the narrator is exaggerating. A first-person narrator can say, "I walked into the bar, and all the patrons looked like bums from low end of town. The beer was swill, and the barmaid reminded me of the girl who dumped me in tenth grade." A third-person narrator wouldn't write that, not even using "he" or "she."

  • Hmm, a challenge... "He walked into the bar and could see nothing but bums from the low end of town. The beer was swill and, worse of all, the barmaid reminded him of the girl who had dumped him in tenth grade. Could it even be her? Better to just leave now instead of sticking around to find out." – SC for reinstatement of Monica Jan 17 '17 at 12:08
  • Seriously now: if one uses 3rd person but limited to a character's POV, you can even change the voice of the narrator to sound (and describe the reality) as that character does. It has a great effect with characters that have a world view very different from norm. – SC for reinstatement of Monica Jan 17 '17 at 12:10
  • @SaraCosta Exactly. That is what I had in mind. We can suppose that the narrator follows the main character around. And, the narrator can reveal the main character's thoughts, too: We suppose that off-text, the main character mentions them to the narrator. – user23046 Jan 17 '17 at 19:03
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It is never too late to change from first person to third. Writing in first person is almost always a bad idea. It is a confining suffocating point of view. When it does work, it is usually as a frame or a covert form or omniscient. But those are not techniques for beginners to mess with.

Change it. Change it now. Thank your stars you have come to your senses before you did more damage.

And don't listen to the people saying that now is the wrong time to change, that you should finish your story first. A story is a rising arc of tension. That tension is created by the manner of telling every bit as much as it is created by the incidents of the plot. There are seven plots in all of fiction (the numbers vary, but they are all small). Everything lies in the telling. And third person is the right voice for telling the vast majority of stories.

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    This is awfully absolutist. And it's almost entirely "first vs. third," hardly touching on OP's actual question, which is about switching mid-WIP. – Standback Jan 17 '17 at 10:02
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    I am completely against first person being almost always a bad idea. It has its place and it can produce the right effect much more powerfully than 3rd person. That being said, it is also not an easy POV and it will show off bad writing much more obviously than the third person. Some stories, though, can only be written in first person; others, would benefit immensely from it. But +1 for the rest of the answer. – SC for reinstatement of Monica Jan 17 '17 at 12:03
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I have written the first draft of my current novel in past tense. Now, while I write the second draft, I change it to present tense. It's quite a lot of work, as I have to touch every single sentence and sometimes change the syntactic structure, but at the same time it's much less work than filling the plot holes, smoothing the logical structure, adding in more background, deleting deviations, and generally polishing the writing.

If you think that your book needs to be told from a different viewpoint, don't shy away from the work.

But I wouldn't change it now.

Switch to third person now, but do not go back to edit what you have already written. Instead, finish your book, and then change the viewpoint of the beginning when you do all the other revisions. That way, you stay in the flow now – and you save yourself a lot of work. Because very likely, once you have reached the end and seen the whole story, you will want to rephrase or even delete passages that you would have painstakingly changed to third person.

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Short answer is No, it's never too late. The question is: how much will it cost in terms of time and effort?

Given the fact that, as you say, this is your "first piece" and you write it to improve your writing, I would give you two suggestions:

1) you can start from scratch, and go back 97 pages and start from 0. It is a big effort, but it is a great practice.

2) still better, stick to your decision: trust your first instinct and go ahead. When the story is done, you can decide what to do with it: maybe it works, or maybe it will need a total rewriting.

The most important question you have to ask is: why do you think changing Point of View matters? What advantages can it bring? Maybe you realize that it's just a momentary whim, and there is no really objective reason to go for it.

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    +1 for the last paragraph: more than wanting to change POV becuase you like it better now, you must see what each POV brings to the written story as an advantage and a disadvantage before deciding to switch. – SC for reinstatement of Monica Jan 17 '17 at 11:28
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That's a substantial bit of revision. It can definitely be done, but the question is if that's what you want to prioritize right now.

During a first draft, there will be a lot of things you'll want to go back and fix. The problem is, go back for enough of them, and you'll stop making any progress at all.

So my first suggestion would be: don't go back yet. Save the revision for later, when you've got a first draft, and you can do all the revising at once. You might wind up needing to rewrite 10 or 20 pages or more, and then any time spent revising those will have been a total waste!

Instead, soldier on. In first person or in third? Well, my second suggestion is make a decision by trying it out.

First, write the next 5-10 pages in third person; see how that works for this story, and if you're getting the effect you want. Second, revise 5-10 older pages from first person to third, to get a sense of how much effort that is.

This will give you a good sampling of what you're choosing between. Once you've done that, make a decision (one way or another) and stick to that going forward. If you choose to make the switch, that's absolutely fine; keep writing in third person from here on, and after you're done go back and revise the earlier pages.

Writing means revision. Lots and lots of revision. Accept it; embrace it; and manage it as wisely as you can :)

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