What is it about 3rd person that has made it so popular?

Jamie Fox

Third person stories are everywhere. From perspective changes, to broader descriptions, third person stories seem to be more marketable. If you look at the comments under 1st person books with lower star ratings a common complaint is that the story only depicts one perspective.

People seem to forget that writing is an art form. It is not always about telling as much as possible to offer entertainment, but third person writing is an easier way to do this.

Our society has very little ability to focus on one thing at a time. People are constantly flooded with media messages and they have to filter through so much on a daily basis that we have become conditioned to process more information faster. (Or block out what doesn’t suit us)

information overload

Stories that switch perspective and offer and outside view of a character’s world seems to offer more options. Readers like options.

Not every third person novel takes the George R. R. Martin route which shifts perspective so often that it is difficult to connect with each chapter. I myself grew so bored with the first Game of Thrones book that I began skipping chapters because the only person I really cared about is Jon Snow, which is a common complaint I have heard.  Sorry to anyone who loves the series, there are some great moments, the writing style just doesn’t hold my interest.

Some writers keep with the traditional single character perspective, utilizing third person writing to offer a broader range of descriptive world building qualities. This is my preference. I can enjoy any book so long as I care about the characters and enjoy the story, but solid descriptions are important. Some authors take it too far. I have read paragraphs describing one character’s clothing. That gets a bit excessive.

There is a balance to be found. It’s important to offer enough details to paint a picture while allowing something for the reader’s imagination. (This is probably why I hate Hemingway’s work, you can tell the man was paid by the world, that’s all I’m saying. haha)


Playing with third person can be fun though. I have written stories where I have 2 main characters and chapters that alternate between perspectives. That seems to offer enough variety instead of a revolving door of characters that leave readers overwhelmed and/or disinterested.

First person will remain my favorite because I have always felt attached to individual interactions, but third person writing is like going to a party. When you go out, you need to mingle, enjoy and explore. Make sure you make the rounds and give enough attention to the areas that mean most to you.