I really like writing in first person. Should I do it all the time?

msstice

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I write science fiction. I recently wrote a short story in the first person and I had so, so much fun with it. I concurrently wrote a story in close third, I enjoyed that a great deal too, but I have to say, writing in first person was an extra kick.

Should I do it all the time? I have a novel in progress where there are multiple POVs and I'm writing in close third. I think I'd have a lot more fun if I wrote it in first person POV. I know there are ways to determine POV based on the mechanics of the story, but would you go by writer enjoyment?

What are your experiences with this? Do you think this is like a fling and the shine will wear off if I do it too much? Thanks!
 

HareBrain

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would you go by writer enjoyment?
I'd certainly give it plenty of weight, because it tends to be the case that the more you enjoy writing something, the more others will enjoy reading it. You might find at some point, though, that first becomes a bit limited. You can't easily use it for a character that dies, for example, unlike third. And the pressure to make each character voice distinctive in a multi-POV story is even greater, and applies not just to dialogue and action but everything.
 

Mouse

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I'd mix it up. Do it for stories that need it, do 3rd for the rest. I wrote a whole novel in 1st person and it got published (https://ninestarpress.com/product/whitecott-manor/) but it was much more challenging than others I've written in 3rd because it was only one person's POV throughout (and that person was struggling with grief so it wasn't always easy to be that immersed in).
 

DLCroix

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The grace of writing in the first person is that the reader feels it as if it were a dialogue or a monologue rather, so somehow it makes the story more dynamic. At least in the first book of my saga, and in general of all books, the narrator is a ghost who goes back to the past and sees herself still alive (she is one of the main villains), so a game is produced interesting in that on the one hand she narrates the story and on the other she sees the evil things she did when she was alive, she often says or thinks: "Grrrr, I hated myself!", except for a scene in which she appears to her wife and future widow and warns her about the future, a chapter in which she also becomes a character and therefore there are two versions of her circulating in parallel, one that continues to hit everyone with the frying pan and the narrator actress, let's say. :ninja:

The other advantage is that a first-person narrator has the possibility of being equivocal or politically incorrect, while a third-person narrator barely tells a joke generally the reader tends to think that it is the author showing off or being smart, it is very easy to be see the string or glove of the puppeteer. On the other hand, my narrator is gossipy, critical all the time and continues to think like a villain although she is also very funny, which also allows to take the tension out of the most dramatic scenes. :lol:
 
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msstice

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I'd certainly give it plenty of weight, because it tends to be the case that the more you enjoy writing something, the more others will enjoy reading it. You might find at some point, though, that first becomes a bit limited. You can't easily use it for a character that dies, for example, unlike third. And the pressure to make each character voice distinctive in a multi-POV story is even greater, and applies not just to dialogue and action but everything.

Thank you for addressing the question of "Should I do it because it feels fun."

You bring up the question of what happens if the narrator dies. To me this is a larger question of "How did I get the material that I am now reading?"

If a first person the character dies, is it that big a problem? Could we have gotten his diary, for example? Does it matter? If the story was engrossing up to the end, is that such a big issue for the reader?
 

HareBrain

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To me this is a larger question of "How did I get the material that I am now reading?"
Yes, that's it -- if you have a credible answer to that (even if you don't give it to the reader) you'll be fine. But I've read first-person stories where it didn't ring true that the material I was reading came to be written down or told like that. (An extreme example, the account ends with the narrator telling us he hears the footsteps of his murderer come up behind him.) I'm a lot more picky about that than some readers, and even I become less picky if I'm into the story.

One example of how not to try making it credible is the end of No Night is Too Long by Barbara Vine, which features three first-person past tense narratives. The last one, which rounds everything off, is a short piece by a lawyer. But clearly Vine struggled to justify to herself why his account would be written down. So she has the lawyer end with a sentence addressed to his wife, to the effect that he's writing this down for her to read, while he's on the train home to her! I was engaged with the story and would have let the lawyer's account pass without explanation. The clumsiness of the explanation only made things worse.
 

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I am part way through writing a first person, present tense book. I like the linearity and the fact that we only know what the protagonist knows. No "Meanwhile back at the ranch." It has a delicious immediacy.
I will caution that it takes a lot of concentration not to slip into third here and there. Also you must resist the temptation to fake third by overloading 'info dumps' in interactions.
Otherwise yes, go with it. There is, I gather, something of a generational divide. Older readers being the ones I hear complain about first person.
 

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Do what fits the story and fits you best. Writing in a style that you are not comfortable with will show through. One caveat, though. As a reader, I find having more than one point of view in a first person story to be confusing. It can lead to awkward chapter openings when trying to establish a change in point of view character and as a reader, I find that I sometimes miss the clue and don't understand what is happening.

I particularly like Alistair MacLean's mysteries which are mostly done in first person. I have heard that Lee Child wrote many of the Jack Reacher books in first person, but I have not gone back and confirmed that.
 

DLCroix

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I will caution that it takes a lot of concentration not to slip into third here and there. Also you must resist the temptation to fake third by overloading 'info dumps' in interactions.

Hi! In this regard, I like the rabbit that Pérez Reverte takes out of his hat in the sense of masking the information dumps, because in Alatriste the first-person narrator is Iñigo Balboa, but even so he hangs on cultural references, "I suppose that you they know the famous painting of Velásquez ", etc, and there he drops you a infodump or, since the narration is in retrospect, he is also an omniscient narrator in disguise although, if we think about it, that knowledge a first-person narrator could not have, in any case it could have been obtained through readings or subsequent conversations with those involved, and although it sounds like a trick to me, a legal vacuum, I think it is appropriate. I said it in case it serves someone at some point. :ninja:
 

Montero

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A multiple first person account is Denis E Taylor "Bobiverse" series, starting with We Are Legion, We Are Bob.
 

Steve Harrison

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I write mainly using multiple POVs - the more the merrier - but my latest novel is in first, simply because the nature of the story demands the main character be present in every scene. It's been enjoyable, but I prefer multiple POVs if the story gives me a choice.
 

tinkerdan

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I struggled getting into my novel series until I went to first person and then the thing took a life of its own.
Just remember that it's restrictive in many ways and because of that I interspersed the narrative with other character third close POV's and that really worked well for what I was trying to do.

As others have said--if it is working for you then go for it.

However, keep in mind that close third can almost be converted from first person though there will be some immersive elements that might have to be removed to make it read well--or at least not read odd.

POV is really a big thing when you begin to analyze what it is that you are out to accomplish and sometimes the reader might not be so appreciative. There are really some very strange thoughts about why some people don't like first person POV. Some are well founded while others are repetition of what a reader read in some criticism somewhere and are just parroting. Well written first person often is not that noticeable and some people who say they don't like first person books have read them and enjoyed them, and just don't seem to remember them as first person POV books.

I also used present tense--which was a more controversial move and I've had some interesting discussions with a few people about that. While the largest problem with that is similar to the POV character dying, 'how can this person telling the story, be telling it right now as if it is all happening right this minute?' and for those readers it's a struggle of suspension of disbelief. However, it's more likely problems with the paradigm of secondary belief in that it is difficult to fit the narrator's narration into the the world view of the fiction. The readers that said they didn't like first person present tense, liked my novel, so I think that my choice that it fit the circumstances was on point.

This series of lectures:
Includes some great examples of the different POVs and when and where each one works best and also how it can change the tone of the story.
I was able to do some of these course series through my Comcast Xfinity plan for no cost--Otherwise it can be expensive. Though I think the audio version is available through amazon for around 30 US dollars.

 

Thiery

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I write science fiction. I recently wrote a short story in the first person and I had so, so much fun with it. I concurrently wrote a story in close third, I enjoyed that a great deal too, but I have to say, writing in first person was an extra kick.

Should I do it all the time? I have a novel in progress where there are multiple POVs and I'm writing in close third. I think I'd have a lot more fun if I wrote it in first person POV. I know there are ways to determine POV based on the mechanics of the story, but would you go by writer enjoyment?

What are your experiences with this? Do you think this is like a fling and the shine will wear off if I do it too much? Thanks!
Hi,

I wrote my trilogy in the first person because I wanted the reader to get very close to the protagonist. I believe it worked well. But it does have its limitations, and I did have to allow a secondary character his own chapter so the reader could find out what he was thinking. I've just started writing another novel and that will be in the 3rd person so more characters can share center stage. Also, the main character begins as a very young child and is not capable of narrating the events.

The experience was challenging but that's what made it exciting.
 

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