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  1. mbinks89

    mbinks89 Active Member

    Nov 14, 2012
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    First Person

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mbinks89, Apr 24, 2013.

    I've (almost) always been a third-person narrator. Now I'm dabbling into first person. I'm finding, with a mixture of pleasure and pain, that it presents its own unique challenges.

    I've decided, after receiving some feedback from my Writer's Craft teacher, to thread together photographically realistic memories with strands of inner monologue that show emotion and personality in content and word selection. I'm also trying to be concise, by including imagery and musing that furthers the story, and omitting stuff that doesn't. My first attempt wasn't so successful. Hopefully the second draft is.

    Anybody want to share techniques, tips and thoughts?
  2. Nicki_G

    Nicki_G Member

    Oct 23, 2011
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    I almost always write in first person. I find it is much easier to write what "I" would think or feel that what "Peyton" thinks or feels. Maybe it's because I dive into the character and let them do the work so it's more natural to put "I" or maybe that's just how I'm used to writing, as I don't really write about others so much in normal daily life.

    To get to the characters thoughts, you need to know your character really well to know what they would think...character research!
  3. gwilson

    gwilson Member

    Mar 29, 2013
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    Houston, Texas
    Are you writing in the past or present? When I decided to start writing a story in first-person I began by reading stories in first-person with a critical eye. Writing in the past seems almost dishonest to me. Because, since it's in the past then why does the narrator take the reader through all his or her mistakes and the misunderstandings or misleading motives of principal characters? If you were orally telling someone a story then you would use vocal inflections and facial cues to say, this is what I was thinking at the time, but if you'll bear with me then I'll explain later why I was so wrong - but a story written first-person-past doesn't have that advantage - maybe good stories by good authors handle it better than the ones I reviewed, but, come on - it's as if it's understood that this narrator is going to lie to me the first two-thirds of the book since he or she already knows how it turns out.

    So, I decided to write mine in the present. When my narrator finds out Prof. Plum held a smoking gun in the study only later to discover that Col. Mustard was killed with a candlestick then that's honest - you find out at the same time that the narrator does. But, if it is all in the past then I'm left wondering why the narrator didn't go check out the body in the first place, why did I have to spend an entire chapter chasing a false lead that the narrator knew was false because it's all in the past?
  4. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Past tense can range from centuries in the past to fractional seconds, relative to the events of the moment. You can do everything with past tense that you can with present tense, but the reverse is not true.

    As for first person vs third person, you have to master third person before you are ready to tackle first person. The biggest mistake new writers make with first person is pacing far too much focus on the POV character. This leads to the "I, I, I,...: dilemma, and also encourages wallowing in the character's brain pan.

    There are good reasons for choosing first person, but it is more difficult to write first person well than to write third person well.

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