1st vs 3rd person

"She finally gets it!"

Lately I’ve been whining to my husband that I just didn’t seem to be connecting with the main character in my chapter book.  At least, the connection didn’t feel as strong as it had in earlier chapters.  “I just don’t feel the character anymore.  There’s a distance now.”

“Keep working on it.  You won’t get it back any other way.”

So I slogged.  I waded.  And I whined.

Then I noticed something.  This is the first time I’ve written anything over picture book length in first person.  Somewhere around chapter 7, I had slipped back into my customary 3rd person.  Somewhere around Chapter 7, I no longer felt as strong a connection with my main character.  I discovered this after I inadvertently slipped back into first person in chapter 10.  The connection immediately felt stronger again.  I was back in his head.

In the past, when I’ve heard discussions of first person vs third person, I’ve sat politely enough while discounting what I was hearing.  “It doesn’t make that much difference,” I’d think.  Then I had to find examples of both first and third person in novels.  As I pulled my favorite novels, the ones with the characters I love, off my shelves, I realized that one after another was written in first person.

The chapter book that I’m working on is one I had started about two years ago but then bogged down in and abandoned.  When I decided to try it again, I changed to first person. Sure, by now I knew my character better, but that knowledge and the resulting connection comes through much stronger in first person.

As last, I finally get it.