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So, I was wondering in the case of a book is it okay to swap from 1st person to 3rd person? Like on the spot swaps, almost like breaking the 4th wall. So, for most of the book it'll be a third person, but it'll have "smaller" spots that'll be my character almost talking to the "audience." would that be against book logic/rules?

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  • Also see this related question: writing.stackexchange.com/questions/47542/…
    – Ben
    Jan 14 at 7:55
  • What do you mean by "spots"? Separate sections? Or free switching. There's also a difference between first person and directly addressing the audience; the latter can be jarring regardless of switches of person (e.g. even if it was all in first person), and you can directly address the audience with a third-person omniscient narrator.
    – Stuart F
    Jan 19 at 14:52

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There are no rules in writing, but there are conventions. Readers expect a certain coherence and logic when they read a text, and while deviations from those expectations can be employed to great effect, they can also potentially confuse and irritate your readers.

In my opinion a good approach is the following:

  1. Try and understand why you want to deviated from a unified narrative viewpoint and mix third and first person perspective. Does it have any kind of "meaning" for you, however vague? Or do you experience sticking to one viewpoint as difficult and note that you tend to switch involuntarily and almost without noticing it?

  2. If you think your switches are intentional and controlled, write a part of your work and give it to several alpha readers to get feedback. Do not tell them about the switches beforehand but see if anyone notices them and what they have to say about it. Ask them directly only if they don't mention the switches by themselves.

  3. If your switches happen involuntarily, you may be narrating in the wrong grammatical person or need more writing practise.


Personally I would avoid any such jarring changes and stick to one grammatical person at least for each chapter. I think that whatever you want to convey through that switch of grammatical person can be easily done in a more elegant and conventional way, and the resulting text will be more pleasing to the reader.

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