1. northernadams
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    northernadams Member

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    First Person POV

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by northernadams, Jun 19, 2013.

    Never attempted this before and it's a train wreck. Should I stick with third person or keep working at it? Anyone have any tips?
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Read First person books. Learn from them. Annotate them. See how they do it. Write. Make someone else read it and give you feedback. Tips can only go such a long way...I'm in the same boat as you and I'm just writing, trying to do my best, really.

    Some generic tips, I guess:
    - Don't make your character to...sarcastic.
    - Don't make your character ramble on.
    - To avoid an onslaught of I's, make your character focus mainly on their surroundings rather than themselves
    - Sometimes you can do without 'I hear', 'I feel' 'I touched' just go straight to describing what they felt or heard..ect.
    - Keep the language realistic and consistent! No 13 year old (say if you were writing one) is going to use huge vocab without no valid reason...

    Or just stick to 3rd person...whatever feels comfortable. But 1st Person is best used when you want the audience to have a close relationship to the narrator.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    First person is certainly more challenging to do well than third person.

    If you're more comfortable with third person, why not stay with that for now.

    When you feel more ready to tackle first person, remember to write outward rather than inward. In other words, keep your focus on what is going on around your character, not on the character himself or herself.
     
  4. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Younique and Cogito are right. Also an advantage to first person is that it's easier to show a character's thoughts since you can directly state them, however, you should only do this if it reveals something about the MC's character. Don't make them state something trivial. Good first person POV stories are in the short story collection The Things They Carried by Tim O Brien. There's also Cathedral by Raymond Carver and Mortals by Tobias Wolffe. Read them. But be aware that the restriction of 1st person POV stories are that all info is limited to the narrator's experience. You can't show something that your MC didnt witness. And you have to use words and jargon that your narrator would use. I'll PM you "The Things They Carried." Read the stories "Stockings," "Friends," and "The Man I Killed."
     
  5. Aliemas
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    Aliemas New Member

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    When you do first person POV verses third person POV it is a little simpler than third person. You can easily make the main character similar to the person you are and stick with that characters point of view through the entire story. And that character can take on feelings you would have about situations you create in your story. Also third person is a little difficult because you must narrate, although you narrate as the main character, you don't necessarily have to narrate other scenes that the main character wasn't in, but you can to intrigue readers more. I would personally stick with first person point of view.
     
  6. CyberFD
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    CyberFD Member

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    Like stated above, get some guinea pigs (AKA test readers). If they are iffy about it, then you probably need to work on your first person writing. If they are enjoying it, then you are probably doing well but you should still work on it.
     
  7. starlingarcher
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    starlingarcher New Member

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    Why exactly do you consider it a train wreck? What aspects are you having trouble with?
     
  8. colorthemap
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    colorthemap Contributing Member

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    Going on what starlingarcher said, is it just a train wreck because it is a first draft?

    Use the POV that best works for what you want to write, you may find 3rd is easier to portray what you really want to. Of course, if you are just experimenting train wrecks are fun because, you fix your engine and the next one doesn't have hardly as many casualties.
     
  9. KaTrian
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    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It is often a trainwreck, yeah. And terribly limited too. A few things to consider:
    1) Does the reader travel with your MC
    2) Is the reader the MC?

    These affect the way you represent the world and action as well as the MC's voice. E.g. whether or not s/he breaks the fourth wall and addresses the reader.

    3) Is the MC telling the story in retrospect or right now?

    The former allows you to foreshadow, put teasers and hooks here and there.
    The latter can intensify the surprise of things to come because the MC didn't see them coming either.

    To me it seems like touch and go whether I like a novel written in 1st person or not, but what has worked for me at least -- when it comes to somewhat lighter literature -- is an honest, slightly edgy narrator (Story of My Life, Brass, Rules of Attraction) or a rather neutral narrator (Mercy Thompson -novels) accompanied with realistic representation of their lives instead of overly romanticized one. What hasn't is blatant author self-insert/wish-fullfilment (Sandman Slim, Dresden Files, Twilight), which is somehow intensified by first person.

    Personally I find 1st person very difficult to do well, but I have also read very nice first person representations by first-time writers (currently beta-reading one).
     
  10. northernadams
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    northernadams Member

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    Lots of great suggestions. Thanx, Blackstar--I got your PM (although a little late. I'm having internet issues right now.) I'll check that out.

    I think it's a trainwreck because I tend to do some of the things that are in this thread--ramble on and on, sarcasm galore, etc. Maybe it's that it's new and strange to me right now and it'll be less foreign as I write in this POV more? I hope so. Right now, it's like just starting to write all over again, like it's a brand new thing.
     
  11. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I wrote almost exclusively in first-person when I started writing, no matter what it was. Of course, all of that was "blatant author self-insert/wish-fullfilment," as KaTrian put it. :D When I and my writing really started growing up, I've moved almost exclusively to third-person. Of course, I haven't put out a vast variety of work since then and of course I'm going to stick with the same POV for the same project. :)

    Could've have said it better myself. Reading is an invaluable source of knowledge for me. Don't just read for enjoyment, though. You need to analyze what you're reading. Look at the the organization, the wording, the tone. Consider how you react to all of it and file that away for later ab/use in your own work. I've learned a lot from analyzing stuff that's already out there.

    As with learning to write third-person, you will absolutely get more comfortable with it the more you work with it. It's going to be awkward baby steps at first but, as with everything, practice makes perfect. :) Don't be afraid of being critical of yourself. Just make sure you're constructively so and aim on improving your work rather than just beating yourself up about the train wreck.
     

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