A lot of YA novels are written from a first person perspective. I tend to write in first person myself, because I prefer reading books in first person – I feel closer to the central character than I do when I’m reading a book in third-person, which is somehow more removed. Probably because we’re looking down at it all from above, rather than being in one character’s head.
But there are a lot of books where third person perspective works. A lot of fantasy and sci-fi is written like that. Lord of the Rings wouldn’t have worked half as well if we’d only been able to know and see the things that Frodo sees. In first person, the reader can only find out something once the character knows it. In third person, the reader can know more than the character. So we can know when a character is walking right into a trap…
Much less commonly used, and more likely to be used in small parts of a novel or a short story, rather than an entire novel, is second person. The reader is the character – ‘You walked to the fridge and drank milk from the carton’. I’ve read it used very effectively in Nick Earls’ After January and Meg Rosoff’s Just In Case – but only in a couple of chapters. I have a bit of affinity with second person myself.
So, which perspective do you most often find yourself writing in? First, second, third? And which do you prefer to read? Are the benefits or disadvantages I haven’t mentioned here?