1. Rumwriter
    Offline

    Rumwriter Active Member

    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    20

    Does first-person pov usually bring out more telling?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Rumwriter, Jul 22, 2012.

    I generally always right in 3rd person, particularly omniscient, because I don't like to limit myself to the thoughts of one character. However, I keep reworking a short story I wrote last year in first person, and I've noticed that when I write in first person, I do a lot more telling than I do showing. Not it's bad, but I wondered if this happens with other people also. At least with the emotions of the narrator. I find it usually sounds more natural for a person telling a story to say "He made me so mad" than "I grew red with rage."
     
  2. Thumpalumpacus
    Offline

    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    106
    Location:
    Texas
    That's one of the difficulties of first-person. It helps if your character is educated, because they can be expected to provide a more thoughtful description of matters. I also think you need a very strong sense of character to pull off first-person, and even more importantly, you need a sense of economy. You have to be able to convey much in very few words, and you will find your passages pulling double-duty, with passages conveying subtle messages.
     
  3. MeganHeld
    Offline

    MeganHeld Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    It all depends on the story and what you feel comfortable writing in. I started with the 3rd person when I first started writing back when I was a teenager. Now I use 1st person. I find that it can tell more, and also show just the same. You still see all the emotions and the scenery that 3rd person would have been able to describe. The advantage I find with 1st person is that you get to know the main character more. I have always enjoyed relating to the main character.

    I would say for this story you are dabbling with try writing in 1st. It sounds like that is what your decision is. Doesn't mean you have to change all your other books and future ones to 1st if you don't want to. That's just my opinion, seeing as I am a 1st person lover.
     
    1 person likes this.
  4. Steph4136
    Offline

    Steph4136 Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 4, 2012
    Messages:
    164
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Toronto, ON
    I wrote my book in 1st person too, and really enjoy writing in that style as well. If that's what you're comfortable with, go for it! It's still possible to show and not tell with 1st person, you just have to work a little harder at it. Once you get comfortable with it though, it's natural.

    Until I started posting here, I actually had no idea so many didn't like writing in 1st person.
     
  5. chicagoliz
    Offline

    chicagoliz Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 30, 2012
    Messages:
    3,295
    Likes Received:
    815
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    I echo what Steph said -- before I was on any writing forums, I didn't realize so many people didn't like first person either. It's my personal favorite.
     
  6. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    I find 1st person easy and difficult to write, at the same time, depending on my mood - it is very dependent on my mood and how connected or passionate I feel about the issue. When it gets very emotional, I find 1st person very easy. But the moment I go onto description etc and actual storytelling, I find 1st person extremely difficult. My language changes according to what I am writing and I haven't learnt how to describe via first person yet - I describe very well in 3rd person and I've developed a knack for atmosphere and mood, but the language I employ is definitely unfit for 1st person in this case, as it is far too poetic and that's just not realistic.

    I also think partly why I can't do 1st POV is probably because my characters are not very strong usually - I have a hard time "getting to know" them and I still have not mastered the idea of distinguishing characters' voices - and I think to try 1st POV before I've mastered this would be a mistake. If your book is in 1st POV then your voice needs to be very strong and distinct and mine simply is not right now.

    But when I first started out writing between ages 9-12 or so, I nearly always wrote in 1st POV :) It's easier because there's less complex language, less description, less building of mood and very focused on the storytelling, the sensory experience and mental life of the narrator. It worked for me when I was young because my mastery of English wasn't as good as it is now, and I knew far fewer words, and I also had far less patience to build any kind of mood haha :eek:

    There's also the trap with 1st POV of your character wallowing too much in his/her own emotions and thoughts. I think you do need certain types of character to make 1st POV work. For example, I tried to write my novel in 1st POV and unfortunately, since my novel's themes are that of guilt and forgiveness and redemption, my MC was constantly regretting the past or feeling inadequate, and unfortunately this became too strong, much too in the reader's face when it was told in 1st POV. For what I was trying to convey, a little distance from the MC is actually good, even necessary, unless you're super skilled at writing and also at writing in 1st person.

    1st POV can be brilliant and very clever, but it is a different animal to 3rd person and you'd be wise to be aware of that. It's not just a matter of switching pronouns. 3rd person is definitely easier to write in, IMO.
     
  7. MeganHeld
    Offline

    MeganHeld Senior Member

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2010
    Messages:
    115
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Ontario, Canada
    I am not feeling so alone with all the people writing in 1st person. I felt like a rebel, now I feel like I have a solid group of people who write like me.
     
  8. BBBurke
    Offline

    BBBurke Member

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2012
    Messages:
    32
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    California
    I think it really depends on the story you want to tell and who you want to tell it to. For some genres, like YA (I know, it's not a genre but a marketing demographic), first person is very common. It works well to connect the reader strongly to a single character and understand what is going on in their head. But for stories that are more about complicated plots and multiple characters, it often doesn't work as well. So think about what you are trying to get across and how you want your reader to react, and then write the way that will accomplish that.

    I recently read an older best seller that was written in multiple first persons - most every chapter a different character and often from a minor character's POV. It was an interesting exercise but I never really got into the book and found it annoying that pivotal scenes involved reading about a new character's thoughts and then never seeing that character again.
     
  9. Leonardo Pisano
    Offline

    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2011
    Messages:
    453
    Likes Received:
    13
    In my view, "showing" is in its core allowing the reader to draw conclusions on a character's feelings or actions by behavior, body language and such. In the first person this can still be done by saying/doing something this first person perceives/notices by any of his/her senses. This could be done by saying something about other characters ("Her face flushed, she started yelling" or "When God handed out noses, he definitely was not one of the first in line"), but it can also be done by saying something about the first person's goodself ("I felt if I had been stripped off my clothes on Time Square on a crowded Saturday evening" or "The man looked at me as if I were a junkie desperate for a shot").

    HTH
     
  10. Thumpalumpacus
    Offline

    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jun 28, 2012
    Messages:
    566
    Likes Received:
    106
    Location:
    Texas
    We are the First People!
     
    1 person likes this.
  11. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,821
    Likes Received:
    2,380
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    I switch depending on the story. I like first person when I want to narrow the viewpoint , but sometimes it doesn't work for other stories. I've used
    it twice succesfully and once, it was a complete disaster.

    Sometimes the telling angle can actually enhance your story - not that this is the most brillant example ( though I did enjoy the story )
    I doubt Flowers in the Attic could've had the same impact or following , had it not been written in 1st person through Cathy Dollanger's eyes.
    We experience her hunger , longing , and anger in the third person it might've been too detached.
    Okay here's a better example - Dracula.
     

Share This Page