Monday, November 30, 2009


Happy Manic Monday! I’m cracking the whip folks. The holiday is over and it’s time to get back to writing. At least for me it is. The coffee is on, pull up a chair, and let’s discuss the nuances of first person point of view.

I can’t cover the whole spectrum of this topic in one blog but will run a series.

Why use first person?

If done properly it can draw the reader deeper into the story, almost to the point they can experience the character’s emotions first hand. This is where the writer uses the pronoun ‘I’ to serve as narrator of a story. The reader can only know what is happening in the main antagonist’s head which limits the reader to one perspective.

Or does it?

The reader sits inside the main character’s head and hears only her/his inner voice but does that mean they can’t figure out what someone else is thinking or feeling? Your life is in first person point of view. If a friend is sad can’t you tell without them expressing it? Sure you can, so can your reader if it’s described right.

If you tell your reader everything going on they won’t get to experience what it’s like to be someone else. Let them figure it, let them be your hero/heroine. It makes the story come alive.

For example:
The manila envelope lay empty on the floor and the pictures were in Rurik's hands. He examined them, holding the photos close. His temple twitched as he clenched his jaw. The concentration on his face made the fine cheekbones stand out against his lush lips, which had just finished kissing me before I escaped to the shower. They thinned out in a frown.

I felt empty. My heart dropped and I was surprised not to hear it rattle like a coin inside the hollowness.

His eyes narrowed as he noticed my entrance and nailed me with their icy coldness.

With that small snippet, can you tell what Rurik is feeling or thinking? You’re not in his head, you’re in the heroine’s but you see everything she does just like in you would in your own life.
Is he happy? Sad? No, of course not! He’s pissed at her and it’s not written once that he is and you didn’t need to get in his head to find out that something in the pictures is the cause.

Even though technically you are in one perspective, I find it a misconception. There are many ways to express what the reader needs to know and feel outside of the main character.
I love writing and reading first person stories.
What do you think of this concept? Do you have any examples you want to share?


J Hali Steele said...

WOW! Nice example, Annie. Sorry, no examples to share. I've done first person shorts - all free reads, unfortunately, I'm not a fan of FP POV. They make me feel like I'm missing something.

Rebecca Royce said...

You're such a good writer, anything you do in any tense is going to be brilliant.

Valerie Douglas aka V.J. Devereaux said...

I've only written one first person POV, a mystery called The Last Resort, and loved it. I also like it because as a reader you get inside the character's skin, experience what it is to be someone else for a little while.

Sandra Sookoo said...

I love writing in first person. Love it. Facial expressions, gestures and body language from other characters go a long way into telling your main character what they're thinking :-)

Annie Nicholas said...

I believe these type of stories can transport you into someone else if written right. I read mostly authors who write 1st pov.

Anonymous said...

Although I've read some good books done in First POV, I have to admit it's not my favorite to read or write. I worry about the reader being stuck in just one POV. I like having the opportunity to give readers both sides of the story (h/h) and even sometimes the antagonist's POV. Still, I agree with you that if done right, First POV can make a story very special.
Great Topic!

hugs, Kari
Paranormal Romance Author