First Person Narrative

For the first time since I have started writing novels, I have made the decision to write one of my books in the first person point of view. Normally, I love writing from multiple points of view – where the story is told from at least four different characters’ perspectives.

Sometimes, first person just works best. I was a little nervous to do this at first, but I think it will be great to try something new and challenging. I say challenging, because it’s going to be different for me to portray the other characters’ personalities and behaviour through just one person’s eyes. Though, I do enjoy reading first person sometimes, because it can give such an intimate portrayal of the protagonist as though you were reading her/his journal.

Interestingly, my current work in progress is a sort of survival tale, much like The Hunger Games, which was also narrated in the first person.

I’d also like to add that one of my favourite bloggers and writers, Lauren Waters, does a fabulous job of writing her books in the first person, because I can imagine everything that is going on around the main character with great detail – from plot events to the other characters. So, first person can certainly be very effective.

So, writers, how about you? Do you ever write in the first person? Do you write in both first and third narrative? Which do you find works the best?

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32 thoughts on “First Person Narrative

  1. Yay! First person narrative! My series is in first person narrative (and present to boot!). Due to the nature of the plot, I had no choice but to keep in my main character’s perspective. I’ve heard readers say that it helps with immersion and intimacy. The struggle is to keep out of the character’s head. Keep internal thoughts to a minimum and show more through actions and dialog. Once you get into the flow, it isn’t hard, but I think my next novel will be in third person since I would love to play with different perspectives. I think it’s wonderful that you’re listening to what the story needs—that is key.

    Can’t wait to hear more about your new project!

    1. Thanks for bringing up that good point – I’m sure it can be easy to have a lot of internal thoughts when writing in first person. Showing what’s going on through action and dialog will be my focus.

      I’m sure you will have a lot of fun writing in third person. 🙂

  2. Hi, Sara.

    Most of my writing is done in first person, and I work hard to keep everything in the present tense. Both aspects of the work keep ‘immediacy’ in the tale and help to maintain a level of tension that keeps the reader glued to the tale as it develops.

    I do all I can to avoid ‘flashbacks’, or at least to keep them to a single paragraph. Flashbacks ruin the pace of the tale and tend to confuse the reader by jerking him (or her – oddly, most of my readers are women. And there I was, thinking I was writing ‘Guy’ books. Silly me) out of the tale and dumping him into the past and then trying to yank him back into the present. It’s a terrible thing to do to a reader…

    In short, keep things simple, keep the pace going (and do give the reader a bit of a rest from time to time) and think up some interesting plots as you go along.

    Have a great time, Sara!

    1. That is interesting that you prefer writing in first person. Lauren also pointed out that she writes the narrative in present tense. I was debating between doing that and writing it in a journalistic way. Maybe present tense would be best.

      Thank you very much for the tips! 🙂

  3. Hey Sara. I prefer to write in third person and prefer to read from a third person perspective. I think I lose believabilty when its first person- “why is this person able to write and experience things all at once?” and also I don’t worry about them getting killed (otherwise they wouldn’t be writing the narrative). HOWEVER, for some reason, the last two short stories I have written are in first person. I have no earthly idea why. I just wrote it that way. Good luck with your first person adventure!

  4. I just finished a novel in first person a few months ago. I had written short stories in first person, but never a novel, so it was a new and exciting and frightening experience for me. The book is currently on hold while I finish another with a deadline, but I’m eager to get back to it to see if I pulled off first person or not. I can always hope! I agree with you that for some stories, it just works best.

    1. I’m glad to hear that you enjoyed writing a novel in first person! It’s exciting you can go back to it after tending to your most pressing work. 🙂 Did you write it in first person present, or past tense?

      1. Thanks! I wrote it in past tense. I don’t think I’m talented enough to do present tense for an entire novel yet. I envy anyone who can!

  5. I’ve never written in anything other than first person narrative. I’ve always like it because you become the character in a sense.

  6. I go through first person phases. Just read Divergent, written in first person present tense which was a fast, compelling read. I find it works well with dystopian fiction and survival stories. Here the action unravels for the character at the same time as the reader which can throw up surprises along the way. I’m toying with the idea of my dystopian being first person but from two seperate characters, which could be tricky…but fun.

  7. I give you big kudos. I don’t like writing in first person, just my own preference. I don’t know if I want to be that much in the head of my character. I’m strictly third person, just because I like being able to be slightly omniscient about things, though I try to keep what my character experiences limited to their perspective. You’ll have to keep us updated on how this WIP goes as you write.

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