Choice of narrative mode, or point-of-view determines the whole feel of a story. And stories which may work in one mode may not work in another, so it's important for us writers to pick the right one!
In first person narrative, the story is told by a character within the story from that character's perspective. This is the "I did this and it made me feel this way" narrative. (Note: first person plural can also be used but would be "We did this...")
My thoughts on first person: I didn't used to mind it, but I got a bit overloaded on first person over the past two years and now it's a bit of a turn-off. I'm sure that will wear off soon though. What I do have a serious problem with though, is writing in first person. I've started a couple of stories off in first person, but at some point the story seems to end up being about ME rather than about my MC. I think it's a side effect of typing all those "I"s. For now I'm happy writing third person limited, but if I ever do decide a story just has to be told from first person, I'll have to practice.
What about you? Do you prefer to write in first person? Do you have any tips for making sure your own personality doesn't end up dominating the MC's?
In second person narrative, the story is told as if the reader were a part of it. "You walk into a dark room..."
My thoughts on second person: I hate it. Second person brings out the snark in me..."Oh, really? I walked into a dark room full of spiders? Doubt it." The only novel I've read recently which used sections of second person was The Night Circus. I loved that book, so I was able to tolerate it, but it was still tough not to skip those sections. And I really just wouldn't be able to do a whole novel written in second person.
What about you? Have you read any novels where second person was used well?
Third person narrative is the most common narrative mode. The narrative is not a specific entity, or a character in the story. This is the "He did this, she did that" narrative. Third person narrative may be omniscient (where the narrator has complete knowledge of people, places, events and time) or limited (the narrator's knowledge is limited to what a single character knows - the story is told from one perspective).
My thoughts on third person: This is my favorite narrative mode, both to read and to write. In particular, I enjoy a limited third person (or multiple limited third person) where I can really get to know a particular character or couple of characters and get their unique perspective on the world. It's like first person, but when a character does something I'd never do, I don't have to remind myself that the story isn't about me.
The only place where it can get tricky is with omniscient third person. Too often, omniscient third person WiPs that I critique or Beta end up reading like limited third person with a serious case of head-hopping, or POV slippage. In my opinion, it's a really difficult narrative mode - getting too close to any characters creates confusion about the intended narrative mode, but keeping too great of a narrative distance makes it difficult for the reader to connect to the characters and create an emotional investment in the story.
Do you agree? What book have you read where omniscient third person was done well? What narrative mode do you most often use in your own writing?
Here are some helpful links on narrative mode:
Pro Writing Tips - Narrative Mode
Examples of different Narrative Modes
POV in Literature