going from 1st to 3rd person narration

I’m not sure how I’m going to do this, mechanically I mean. I’ll have the whole of The Sleep of Reason written in first-person narration, and I’ll want to rewrite it in third person. So how will I do that?

Will I read one paragraph and write the revised paragraph immediately below it on the screen?

Should I print each chapter (what a waste of paper!) and have it at hand as I create new files in the computer?

Should I have the first-person draft show on one screen while I write the new one on another? (This is possible since my old, glacially slow laptop could sit side-by-side with my newer one — now two years old — and justify its existence with such low-demand work.)

I suppose I’ll work out a solution, but right now it all seems clumsy. Any suggestions?

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3 Comments on “going from 1st to 3rd person narration”

  1. J.M. Reep Says:

    I think I mentioned, in a comment to one of your other posts, that I did this same sort of first- to third-person revision that you are attempting right now.

    Back then, I had a handwritten rough draft of my novel, and I was changing the POV at the same time I was transferring that rough draft to my word processor. In other words, I rewrote the entire story. I think I spent an entire summer working on that second draft.

    I suspect it’s going to be a long, tedious process for you no matter what tactic you use. But if you can, try to do two or more things at once. As you revise the POV, don’t just work on the POV, but try to fix some other things in the text too (word choice problems and awkward sentences, for example). If you choose to rewrite, word for word, your entire story, that might feel like a miserable chore, but in the long run, paying close attention to your text like that might greatly improve your story.

  2. paullamb Says:

    JM – I agree with the bit about making the rewrite to the third person an opportunity to get some other editing and rewriting work done. My understanding of the story has evolved so much since I began that probably the first half of it will need major reworking, and what better time to do it.

  3. Rod Duncan Says:

    Suck it and see.

    The way I do it is by getting the document on the screen and translating it one sentence at a time. After I have swept through in that way, I go back and edit again with a more general eye.

    A close-in third person narrative is really very similar to first person. The big difference comes when you want the third person narrator to be distant from the character.


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