Writing in the first person can produce amazing results

Contrary to some critics first person point of view does work. I disagree with those critics (snobs) that argue writing in the first person is a sign of an amateur. 

Writing in the first person is my preferred method. I know, I know, I’m not burning up the NYT Best Seller list. Well, not yet but give me time.  

But there are many famous, and successful authors that have proved those critics wrong.

And those are just a few!

I enjoy writing when writing in the first person more than third person and I seem to write better. Not sure why. Maybe it’s because I like to walk in the protagonist’s shoes, see through their eyes and feel what they feel. Age doesn’t matter to me. At least, I hope not. 

However, on occasion, when I need distance between myself and the protagonist, I switch to the third person. In this instance, I don’t want to feel what my protagonist is feeling. 

If you are like me maybe you need some tips on writing in the first person. I’m always working on improving my craft.

Today I learned a few dos and don’ts of writing in the first person:

  • Don’t just narrate how the character is feeling, involve the reader with the character’s environment.
  • Do put the reader in the character’s mind and body. What the character sees and hears so should the reader.
  • Don’t tell what is seen or heard, avoid words like I saw it puts distance between reader and story.

 

  • Do – write small. This has become my new mantra, meaning no detail is too small to develop.
  • Don’t skip the small stuff, it might prove important later. If not, you can cut it out and leave it on the editing floor.
  • Do avoid passive narration. 
  • Do catch the reader up on past events up quickly and succinctly. Background of the character is important but no need to drag it out.
  • Do maintain a variety of self-expression that helps increase a sense that the character is real.
  • Do make sure the character’s personality is consistent with story background and class.

Want to know where here I got these great tips?

From Bridget over at Now Novel.

Click the link below to read her post for more.

First person narrative: 7 tips for writing great narrators 

Which point of view do you prefer to write in?

Do you agree with the critics?

Thanks for stopping by my blog.
You can find me on Twitter @jeancogdell, Facebook at jean.cogdell and Amazon.com, stop by and say hey! Please remember to click and share this post with your Twitter peeps and Facebook fans.

 

41 thoughts on “Writing in the first person can produce amazing results

  1. Since most of what I write is for my personal blog, I tend to feel most comfortable writing in the first person. I’ve often thought it might be fun to write a blog post about myself in the third person, but I’ve never had the time to do the idea justice, sadly.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for including The Bookseller in your list, Jean. As an author, I believe that whether to use first person or not depends on the story and the characters. In The Bookseller, FP is necessary, because the same character is caught between two worlds, and in each one she goes by a different name (in one a nickname; in the other her given name). It works more smoothly if she experiences the shift from one world to the other as “I” — rather than being identified each time as Kitty or Katharyn. As with any writing “rule” — if you have a good reason to do it, then do it. Thanks again!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Strongbow’s Wife was originally written in 3rd. person but I changes it to first in order to present the often terrible events through her eyes. Of course, because she wasn’t present at all of them she sometimes had to rely on the accounts of others.
    One of the best first person narrations I’ve read recently is John Boyne’s devastating ‘A History of Loneliness’ which reads like a memoir but is fiction.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love writing in first person. Two writers you left off the list, one who one a Nobel, crafted superb first person prose: Saul Bellow and Walker Percy. Love in The Ruins, which I consider one of the best novels written (and my personal favorite) is written from the POV of a drunken psychologist who lost his faith, and Humbolt’s Gift, which won the Nobel, is one of the funniest novels ever written.

    It’s tough to write in first person because there is so much you want to reveal to the reader that the narrator couldn’t possibly know. So many authors break POV with sections using an omniscient narrator to work around this, (James Patterson) but that cheapens the novel for me. It’s a demanding, but rewarding style and using it taught me how to write third person with discipline.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. I also much prefer the 1st person. But I also make myself write in 3rd person, to keep my perspective in balance. In the book I’m writing now, I write in the 1st person for one main character, and every other chapter I use the 3rd person for the second main character. So far, my critique readers have given a thumbs up. Gulp. But we need to challenge ourselves, and the ‘pundits,’ don’t we?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. I guess it should be fine for someone like me, who has already written a memoir. Can’t imagine writing a memoir in anything else, hahaha. But it has to work with the story you’re crafting in fiction. Had a problem with one that switched back and forth from first person for the protagonist and 3rd for other characters. I found that jarring.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. There’s merits to each. FP definitely feels more involved.

    My second book is written from a third person omniscient perspective something that naturally came to the story. Not sure how people will receive it, but it reads well so far, bu then I’m biased.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Excellent post. I love writing in first person though I don’t do it often since it requires a story that can be told from one pov. What I love about it is the tightness of the pov – there tends to be less “telling”. When a writer is struggling with “telling” in a scene, I suggest that they write it in first person and then convert it to third. It almost always makes a huge difference. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

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