Massive, subject matter... I am planning in writing my third book in 1st Person POV

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#1
My previous two books have been 3rd Person Close.

I'd be very grateful if members could reply with just 1 or 2 "watch out for **********"
or, any links to helpful advice

many thanks
 

HareBrain

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#2
The obvious one would be to make sure you're read lots of first-person POV books. Is it in past tense? Do you have an idea where and when the narrator is telling the story (rather than when the events are occurring)? That can (and should) affect the voice somewhat, to my mind anyway.
 

ctg

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#6
Don't be afraid to write in third person passages, when and if they're needed. The most difficult bit will be with using second person (you) in conjunction with I.
 
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tinkerdan

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#7
All of the above ^

Seriously though. You want to beware of the shopping list mode. Or maybe its the todo list mode or more exactly the as you do list.
This is where you need to concentrate on less. Go into a scene with the notion of relating those things important to the story and then cut to the next. Following your character around everywhere is not only creepy stalker like stuff, but rather tiresome after a while.

It gets compounded by the overarching I.

The paragraph filled with sentences that all begin with I, seriously two sentences beginning with I in the same paragraph can stand out.

The page or pages that have paragraphs that all start with I.

And just I in general. That can get peppered throughout the narrative.

As to not revealing too much--that can be a balancing act. Withholding vital information has to have a right feel to it or it can become just as tiring as following your characters every move.


Really though writing first person can seem restrictive and also give the impression that the writer has chosen the easy or the popular path. The truth is that it's no different from writing in close third and little different from other POV that draw close to the character.

I like to use something like this next example as a way to show how taking other people's advice can become confusing.

The Danger of Overuse of 1ST Person Narrative in Literary Fiction | Editor's Opinions Blog

In this instance there is a deliberate attempt to do poor first person writing and then it's followed by two examples in other points of view and the argument is that it shows how restrictive first person can be.

However if you read all three examples it becomes obvious that much of what is written in the two better written examples could easily be used to improve the first example, which only goes to show that rather than restrictive it is mostly the same as any other writing.

You need to work at it and develop it in the same show not tell--use all the senses--avoid overuse of adverbs--avoid passivity--Avoid filter words and on and on....

Sure there is a limit to knowing what the character knows and what they can see, feel, taste,smell and hear; and a limit to how or if you can relay anything outside of that. And you have to respect that.

You don't have to let it make your writing become poor or less.
 

Lumens

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#8
Well, that's my novel torn to bits. :sick:

Don't get me wrong, it was fun writing it.

I think I will start another, consider this one a learning experience.
 
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#10
Watch out for enjoying it soooo much.
Watch out for the inability to bring in back story without a wall of telling.
Watch out for long descriptive passages as 'I' tell you about people I meet, places I see.
Watch out for inner monologue that reveals too much of what 'I' know, before you want to.
nice list // :)
 

ratsy

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#12
Hey Nick, I wrote my first novel in first person. It took a while to get used to it. I felt like the story needed that first person touch to it, but it does create a lot of differences. The main thing is having that ability to change POV's. We get so used to changing heads, that writing in one character for a whole novel is strange, but you really get into it. You are that person. You are facing what they face, and yes, we do that with close 3rd as well, but usually not only in their heads. We switch.

Tinker has some great points, and when I do my millionth read through (just finishing edits on it now) I'll double check these.

I did have about 7 people read it so far, and no one suggested an over use of 'I' yet, so that's a good thing, but something I will comb over one more time.

After I wrote that book, I did a 3rd book, and it was refreshing, but I'm back to writing the sequel now, and its like slipping on a pair of comfy slippers writing Dean's story.

Good luck Nick. If you need anyone to scan over a chapter or two, send me a PM and I'd be happy to look at it.
 
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#13
Hey Nick, I wrote my first novel in first person. It took a while to get used to it. I felt like the story needed that first person touch to it, but it does create a lot of differences. The main thing is having that ability to change POV's. We get so used to changing heads, that writing in one character for a whole novel is strange, but you really get into it. You are that person. You are facing what they face, and yes, we do that with close 3rd as well, but usually not only in their heads. We switch.

Tinker has some great points, and when I do my millionth read through (just finishing edits on it now) I'll double check these.

I did have about 7 people read it so far, and no one suggested an over use of 'I' yet, so that's a good thing, but something I will comb over one more time.

After I wrote that book, I did a 3rd book, and it was refreshing, but I'm back to writing the sequel now, and its like slipping on a pair of comfy slippers writing Dean's story.

Good luck Nick. If you need anyone to scan over a chapter or two, send me a PM and I'd be happy to look at it.
many thanks for the offer Ratsy,

I am in "structuring mode" at the moment... I have 28,432 words of ideas, google searches, time-frames, plot themes, and character traits... but no actual Chapter 1 (or 2,3,4,5,6...) yet.

I will definitely take you up on your offer once I have "had a go" at the first Chapter or so... (probably mid-June)

nick
 

Phyrebrat

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#14
I'm not so sure how I feel about first person POV. I know I don't particularly enjoy reading it, but I don't know why that might be, because I have nothing quantifiable against it.

Writing is different. I think it can often be an easy option to go to first and I see a lot of beginner writers (says the beginner writer :eek: ) defaulting to it time and time again. I have always felt it's more difficult to write in third and try to do it as much as I can because that is where I felt stretched the most.

Probably not the most helpful reply, but.

pH
 

ratsy

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#15
Man, I'm not sure I agree that 1st is easier than 3rd. I find the opposite.
 

Lumens

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#16
For me it was the only natural way to write my first book. It's because my novel (early draft, finished) is written as a journal kind of thing. After seeing the bit about using 'I' too much, I thought Nah not me, I can't remember using it that much. Turns out there are mountains of I in there. In the future I can rewrite big parts of it, that is not an issue. As I said, it's a learning experience. Out of 4 people who read the first part, one came back saying positive things. That's not bad, provided I wasn't just lucky and that is actually one in a hundred. Thousand. :D
 

Dan Jones

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#17
I always had an aversion to writing in 1st person POV until recently, but never had a problem in reading it. Indeed, some of my favourite books are written in 1st, such as The Wasp Factory, The White Tiger, The God Of Small Things, and I've just finished Rivers Of London, which I enjoyed immensely.

From reading these books, I find that 1st person makes for a more conspiratorial feel between narrator and reader. We're more complicit, more intimate with the narrator. This is done well when the style reflects that intimacy; the prose becomes more conversational, perhaps fragmented or informal. Remember, the narrator is speaking to the reader directly, so the prose should be able to carry that. All of the books I mentioned above have that quality, IMO, and address the reader as either a co-conspirator, an interrogator, or perhaps simply a fellow traveller around the metaphorical campfire.

In terms of writing, I've tried to adopt this approach into my recent forays into 1st person, including a short story that was included in the Journeys anthology, and a couple of novellas. I've enjoyed writing these as you get to explore aspects of voice that aren't always available in 3rd person. However, the flip side to this is that I started to write a novel in 1st person, which I since aborted as it wasn't working, so you have to get it right. Spending an entire novel in the company is quite a task, so the narrator has to be sufficiently fascinating (not necessarily likeable, though that's probably a separate thread) to be worthwhile company for the duration of a long book.

Perhaps writing a short story or two as stylistic proofs-of-concept might be a way to get you into the groove rather than jumping in?
 

apocalypsegal

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#18
Make sure you have a main character that readers can stand being inside the head of for an entire book. Because they are going to know that character intimately, and you need to give them something worth living like that.

Also, the other stuff people said.

I did an UF novel in first, and it was a bit of a workout. I'd done shorts in first, and liked how it worked for them, but a whole novel? Egad. Still, I'm not sorry I did it that way, as the series is the story of the main character's growth, so it works better in FP (and past tense, I can't abide present tense, won't read it -- and don't get me started on third person present).
 
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#19
I can't abide present tense, won't read it
Well that is one potential reader less for my stuff then! I shall be putting some pieces up here for critique so be warned.

My current WiP is all about leveraging 1stPres. Indeed, I do skip between 3rdPast and 1stPres. Because I am a bad boy I try and use 1stPres for all the stuff that happens in the past and 3rdPast for everything happening now.

My intention is to give the reader the most intimate insight into the character. Indeed it won't be a single character either. Each book shall have a unique 1stPres character. I can envisage as many as 25 or more books in the constellation (it is not a series). That is a whole big bundle of compulsively involving characters that I have to create and convincingly present.
 

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