“Alright! Time to write that instructional post all about the first-person point of view!”
I sat at my computer and brought my hands to the keyboard. But my finger muscles stiffened to a stop just over the keys. My mind was as blank as a washed blackboard. What was the first-person point of view, exactly?
Writing in first person means to tell the story from the narrator’s viewpoint, using pronouns like I, me, we, our, etc. The reader is essentially within the character’s head and watches the story unfold through their eyes.
First-person writing examples:
I bit into the chocolate-covered strawberry, practically melting as the fruity cocoa-ness caressed my tongue.
We looked at each other with our noses wrinkled as the putrid scent of burning popcorn wafted from the kitchen.
Our master shook his head, his brow furrowed in disdain. “You two only wrote examples about food! Try again!”
First-person is generally from a single character’s perspective, though some authors have used chapter subtitles to swap between 2-3 first-person perspectives.
While first-person is generally considered the easiest POV to write in, it tends to be one of the hardest.
So by now, you might be wondering, ‘how do I know if first-person is right for me? What makes it great? What makes it difficult?’
Lucky for you, I’m here to tell you!
The greatest and most useful advantage of a first-person perspective is the level of intimacy with the character. Because the story is tailored to the character’s eyes, this perspective is much more personal than second- or third-person. It’s like stepping into their shoes, or their skin. Their thoughts, emotions, knowledge, and beliefs color the tale until it’s cardboard double-dipped in a rainbow.
Also because the story is tailored to the character’s eyes, the reader won’t get the “full picture” of what’s happening. Unlike with third-person omniscient, which provides a ‘bird’s eye view’ into any character or event, the author wishes to depict, a piece written in first-person is limited only to what the character knows and sees. Backstory and information may take longer to relay.
Just like with real people, every character views the world differently. Some see it and other characters in a positive light, while some see it negatively. It’s important to consider who will be telling your story and how they perceive the world around them. If your character is a villain, they might see everyone as a moving target to sink their claws into, kill for a cause they believe to be righteous. While a hero might believe the villain is doing wrong for no reason. Whatever side of the story the reader gets all depends on the narrator, so choose wisely!
That’s about it! For my final piece of advice: Don’t stress yourself out trying to force something to work. If you’ve found yourself absolutely stuck on a single aspect of your writing and nothing you’ve tried seems to remove that glue, try a different approach. For example, if the exposition seems wonky or the flow is off, maybe some dialogue would work better. Things like that!
Thanks for reading! Best of luck to all of you on your writing journey!