Have encountered the dilemma on what perspective (first person, second person, or third person) and tense (past, present, or future) to use for writing. A very challenging decision.

Switching between different perspectives or tenses within the same narrative can confuse readers and disrupt the flow of the text. But with story structure, one may need to switch between past and present tense to convey different timelines effectively.

Are there good book discussing these things ? Or good stories that showcase the switching of perspectives and timelines ?

2 Answers 2


The 'usual', 'standard' way to write a narrative is in the past tense and the third person, unless you particularly want to tell the story through the eyes of one of the characters. If you do, you can only describe scenes which they witness, or have another person tell them about things that happened in their absence.

In Dickens' Bleak House, some chapters - 'Esther's Narrative' - are written from Esther Summerson's point of view, the rest by an omniscient narrator.

  • Do you know of good books written in Second Person ?
    – Prego
    Sep 25, 2023 at 1:22
  • No - that would be most unusual. Sep 25, 2023 at 7:55

Choose the tense and viewpoint that is most common in the genre you are writing in. For example, Young Adult fiction is mostly written in first person present tense while most adult fiction and most children's books are commmonly written in third person past tense. Deviate from your genre's convention only if you have a good reason to do so.

As for examples, pick some of the most representative works in your genre and read them.

  • I am looking to read great examples of different genres first. Kate recommended Bleak House. Would be good if you can add something. Have read some by Hunter Thomspon.
    – Prego
    Sep 24, 2023 at 20:27
  • 1
    Book recommendations are beyond the scope of this site. We are a writer community, not a reader community. You can ask for book recommendations at reddit.com/r/suggestmeabook and reddit.com/r/booksuggestions.
    – Ben
    Sep 25, 2023 at 9:06

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