Does the first person/third person shift help or hurt?

Does the first person/third person shift help or hurt?

If you’d asked me this question six months ago, I would have said there’s no way to effectively write a novel that shifts perspective from first person to third person. It just doesn’t work. An author needs to pick a style and stick with it.

Then I read The Martian by Andy Weir, and he convinced me it could work. His first person account of Mark Whatney abandoned on Mars while the third person narrative of the struggling Houston scientists working on a rescue mission really blended almost seamlessly together into one captivating novel.

Granted, the first time that shift in perspective happened, it took me out. It thoroughly ruined my suspension of disbelief. But it took me almost no time at all to get it back, and once I got over that initial interruption, it was smooth sailing through the rest of the book.

Now, would the book have been more effective if it had stuck with the first person? Would you have had a much deeper, more thorough sense of lonely abandonment if you had no vision other than Whatney’s himself?

Yeah, it’s possible. But the rescue mission attempts added a lot of drama and adventure to the novel, and I found myself enjoying them, almost in spite of myself.

So, now… I find myself working out a similar problem. I had quite the inspiration a couple of days ago for novel number three, and now I find myself neck-deep in the first person/third person conundrum. I only hope I can make it work half as good as Andy Weir did.

HALO-First-Person-Gameplay

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