I’m working on a kids’ story and it’s going okay, but I’m still unsure if I want it to be in third or first person. My problem is I’m not sure which point of view would be more appealing to kids.
I don’t have ready access to any young readers (say ages 6-15) at the moment, so would you mind asking yours a question for me? I know there are a handful of dopers that are in middle school and early high school grades, so if you’d weigh in too that’d be very welcomed also.
If the type of story makes a difference, it’s about a ten-year-old boy who encounters fairytale creatures while trying to rescue his little brother from one of them. The reading level of the story will most likely fall into the ages 8-12 category, but we know those stories get read by kids older and younger than that too. Anyway, on to the poll…
Dopers’ Kids/Young Dopers:
When you read or hear an fantasy or adventure story, do you prefer that the story be in first person (the narrator tells you their own story, talking about what happened using “I” and “me” a lot) or in third person (someone tells you what happened to another person, with lots of references to “he” or “she” and the character’s name)?
I liked both as a kid, but first-person narrative where the point of view shifts from character to character annoyed the shit out of me. It still does, actually. It seems like a stupid lazy way to write.
Elfkin - just because it can make a difference, third person limited or third person omniscient? (And for that matter, first person fixed or first person shifting?) I’ll send my aunts and uncles a couple emails, between them you’ll get about 5 opinions, if one of them still does childcare maybe more.
If I go with first person it will be just one person narrating, not alternating narrators; I have another story I’m working on for adults with two first person narrators, but that’s needlessly complex for a kids’ story and hard to pull off as well. If I choose third, it will probably be third person limited given all but one scene (that I need to think through to bring it into alignment) would focus on the main character’s actions and not elsewhere.
My kid (13) thinks he likes first person, and it’s a fact that he likes illustrations, particularly cartoony ones.
However, he has read all the Harry Potter books, multiple times, despite their being in third person.
As a writer and editor I say, do what the story requires. Sometimes it has to be third person because the readers needs more information than the protagonist knows and this information has to be conveyed somehow. Sometimes first-person works best.
I don’t know of any PERFECT Third Person Limited novels, but Harry Potter gets very close. There are a few scenes here and there that show a “meanwhile” on what the Death Eaters are doing in the later books, but generally you know very, very little outside of what Harry does. Overall it’s much closer to limited than omniscient even if you “technically” would have to call it omniscient because of a few scattered scenes.
It’s not an uncommon point of view in children’s lit. Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson, The Giver by Lois Lowry, A Solitary Blue by Cynthia Voigt (probably its companion Homecoming too, but I haven’t reread it in a while), Hatchet by Brian Paulsen and its sequels are all written in third person limited. Rumor has it that The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman is as well, but I haven’t picked that one up yet.
My oldest kid is six, and I’ve recently read two novels for him, The Brothers Lionheart and Mio, my Mio (both by our great Swedish author Astrid Lindgren.) He was very fascinated by those stories (especially Lionheart), and they are both in first person.
I have three kids, all in all, and we read for them every night, and most of the stories (classics like Andersenand Grimm, and also Milneand Jansson) are in third person, and now that I’m thinking about it, it seems to be of no difference at all, to the kids, wether the story is told in first or third person.
If I were you, I’d just write my story in the perspective which feels right. The kids won’t notice, they see all in their mind anyway.