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  1. alvin123
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    alvin123 Senior Member

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    A highly improtant question, Darkthought posted a great site for me and i have a ques

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by alvin123, Apr 17, 2008.

    What about first person POV, how can you do that look below this setence


    What if my novel is being written in first person, how can i Open correctly
     
  2. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    Read some more books.

    Expand your scope.
     
  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    good advice!... the best, in fact...

    to that i'd add don't write in first person!... even the vast majority of the very best of all writers can't do that well enough to pull it off successfully... to most agents and publishers such stuff is seen as beginners' hubris and not taken seriously...

    check out the best-sellers section of your local bookshop and see how many novels you can find written in first...

    as for 'correctly' that only = 'what works'... there are no rules, thus no correct or incorrect for anything other than grammar and the other technical aspects of the writing...

    the most famous successful first person opener is melville's, 'They call me Ishmael.'... unless you can write as well as he did, i'd say you should stick to the commercially more viable, third person and write what people are reading and spending money to buy nowadays...
     
  4. EyezForYou
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    EyezForYou Active Member

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    You know I really don't agree with that statement.

    If you want to improve, you should dapple in both first person and third person perspective, respectively.

    A true writer doesn't write for the money, but for himself and his readers.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Commercial viability is a good weathervane, regardless of whether you are writing for publication or not.

    Of course, if you really are "writing only for yourself," it really doesn't matter. Neither does anything else on this site. Write in your journal, and show no one.

    But if you are writing for others, and working to improve your writing, then it is wise to follow the same guidelines publishers use.

    Writers do successfully use first person, but it is inherently limited. The question the original poster raised indicates to me that first person is probably not the best choice for the story. If you are writing in first person, your reader cannot know anything the protagonist does not unless you step outside of that perspective - a risky choice if you don't know exactly what you are doing. You never want to pollute the protagonists's viewpoint by doing so, and you don't want to disrupt the intimacy of the first person perspective in your departures. That intimacy is the main reason a good writer might choose the first person perspective, but you can come very close without resorting to it.

    Still, EyesForYou does have a point. A writer should try different approaches to writing, should take risks. That's the way to learn what doies and does not work. Yet I don't suggest "dappling" (dabbling?) blindly.

    A wise man learns from his mistakes.
    A wiser man also learns from the mistakes of others.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yet another hearty 'ditto that!' cog...
     
  7. Raven
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    Raven Banned

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    Yes Id have to full heartedly agree.
     
  8. giuocob
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    giuocob Member

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    First of all, I want to know what site that came from. That's some of the worst plot advice I've ever seen. Almost none of the great classic writers in the world roll out the entire plot of the book in the first ten pages. A good plot is one that becomes known to the reader over time.

    However, they're right in saying that you need to identify some of the characters early on, which brings me to your question. The great limitation of writing in the first person is that the reader can only know what the main character feels and experiences. So all of the main characters have to meet the primary character at some point so they can be introduced to the reader. This makes it much more difficult to write in first person, a tradeoff for the added intimacy. But if you want to go ahead and try your hand at writing first person, even though it won't be bestseller material, go ahead and try it.
     
  9. Darkthought
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    Darkthought Active Member

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    You could try what I did in the prologue for The Unification War. A flashback works well for introducing things about your character's past that may foreshadow events later. Bear in mind that I also took kind of a risk by using a flashback. The tense has a habit of tiring out the reader. I believe it mentions something about this under the "Narrative Voice" section of the site I linked to you.
    I would also like to disagree with the the statement
    I am not trying to be rude but this is a completely ridiculous statement. Several of the great novels throughout history have been written in first person. Let us take a look at such works.

    A Separate Peace by John Knowles

    Lost Horizon by James Hilton

    Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

    The list goes on; Great Expectations, Tuesdays With Morrie, Walden...
    To say that, as a rule, one should completely avoid writing in first person is illogical and wrong. Writing is writing. If its good its good. Just because the market for such writing is not so large as another does not mean it should be completely quashed altogether. I can hardly imagine a world without such works as the ones I have mentioned, and even more unimaginable is a world without all the great works that have yet to be written in such a style. I am sorry if this is seen as overreacting, but I would really rather such statements not be given as advice.
     
  10. Darkthought
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    Darkthought Active Member

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    Professor Killian is saying that you should foreshadow the plot, advice that I must agree with. It gives depth to a work.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There are more repectful ways to disagree.

    To put the statement you are disagreeing with back into its original context:
    mammamaia didn't say that no professional writer would write in first person. She said it is more difficult to pull off successfully, and that many prospective publishers will start off with a bias against it.

    So the advice comes down to, "Don't make it any harder for yourself than you need to."
     
  12. Darkthought
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    Darkthought Active Member

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    Like I said, I'm truly sorry if it was seen as rude. I really get into a fervor when in comes to writing I guess.
     
  13. giuocob
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    giuocob Member

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    Foreshadow it? Fine, nothing wrong with that. Lay it out in a neat little pile like that paragraph said to do? No.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it wasn't just 'seen' as rude, it actually was... fervor in a writer is fine, g... a requisite, in fact... but to be a good writer one first must be a good reader, and if you had read what i said in toto, instead of taking offense at merely a small part of what i said about first person, you should have seen there was nothing at all 'ridiculous' about it... and it wasn't a 'statement' anyway, but an 'adjuration'... a bit of 'counsel'/'advice'...

    apology accepted... just remember that words are a writer's tools and stock in trade... so we must choose them carefully and use them wisely/politely, even in casual venues such as conversation, regardless of whether spoken or posted... ;-)

    love and hugs, maia
     
  15. Vayda
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    Vayda Senior Member

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    I think if the OP really wants to take these tips into consideration, perhaps he could include a prologue or something at the beginning that wasn't written in first person, and then move into first person. I'd also like to add that not only are many great novels written in first person, but many more are written in limited third, where the reader still can't know any more than the main character, but the verbs are simply conjugated for third person.

    But if you're asking for my opinion, I think the most interesting style to read is omniscient first person. The ONLY books I know of in this style is the Coven Tree series (I've only been able to find two of them, Dr. Dredd's Wagon of Wonders and one other, but I can't remember its name.) Anyway, they're children's books, or young adult I guess, and they generally compose three stories linked together by a common narrator. The narrator tells the stories in first person ("I didn't know it at the time, but Becky wasn't having a great day" or "I was in my store, and saw the twins run past, so I knew something was up") and the stories are invariably not about him. But he tells them. It's an INCREDIBLE perspective.

    So I'd say write in whatever perspective you want. Telling the whole story within the framework of a flashback can do what you're talking about ("I was much younger then" in the same manner that A Separate Peace began, or Moby Dick too.) However, if you're starting a story in first person and you're genuinely going to find out things at the same rate as the main character, I think you're going to have to be a little more creative. Maybe in the first chapters you could have the characters do little things that foreshadow, instead of doing it verbally - show it, don't tell it. For example, if you're doing the temptation thing, have your MC buy a candy bar in a couple checkout lines. Show her falling to it, and then when it happens big later on the reader can go back with that "aaaah" of comprehension.
     

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