Analyzing a few books, part two

Two weeks ago I took a sample of of my cozy mysteries collection to see when the gruesome crime was discovered, setting off events in the rest of the book.  I didn’t learn much, but perhaps someone smarter than I could.  This week I want to see what cozy mysteries are more prone to- first person or third person.

First Person means a book is full of “I”s and “Me”s.  The reader only gets to know what the character knows, sees, and thinks.  They don’t get to hear another character’s thoughts or see something going on around the corner.  Basically, the entire thing is filmed from behind the protagonist’s eyes.

Third Person is more like god-mode.  The reader can see more than the protagonist does, although it’s by no means required.  It’s as if the ‘camera’ is floating above everything, filming whatever it likes.

The choice is purely the writer’s, of course, but it can have a lot of impact.  For one thing, readers like Kevin won’t touch first person with a ten-foot pole.  For another, third person can open up a bewildering number of possible avenues, not all of which will necessarily be viable for the story someone wants to tell.

With that cheery note, let’s press on!  All the books are in the same order as they were last time, so a particularly invested reader could see what sort of relationship might exist between the two characteristics.

  • Book One– First Person
  • Book Two– First Person
  • Book Three– First Person
  • Book Four– First Person
  • Book Five– Third Person
  • Book Six– First Person
  • Book Seven–  Third Person
  • Book Eight–  First Person
  • Book Nine–  Third Person
  • Book Ten– Third Person
  • Book Eleven– Third Person
  • Book Twelve– First Person
  • Book Thirteen– Third Person
  • Book Fourteen– First Person
  • Book Fifteen– Third Person
  • Book Sixteen– First Person
  • Book Seventeen– First Person

10 first person and 7 third person.  I’m actually a little surprised at that division- I was expecting it to skew extremely heavily toward first person.  In my head, cozies would be more first person oriented because we read them to identify with the main characters and pretend to be sleuths ourselves.

All the same, that’s almost 60% first person, so I guess my hypothesis could still be true, just less dramatically than I had initially believed.

What do you guys think?  What’s your preferred style- first or third- for reading or writing?

P.S.  My manuscript is at 56,613.

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