“The truth is, I hate not being the first person narrator all the way through! To paraphrase David Copperfield, I don’t know whether I’m the hero or the victim of this tale. But either way, shouldn’t I dominate it?”
―The Queen of the Damned
As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a sucker for third-person point-of-view and the old-fashioned feel of it. It gives me the feeling of sitting in front of a fire and telling a story to a group of enthralled listeners.
But what about first-person – perhaps the most commonly used point-of-view in contemporary fiction?
Frankly, I never employ first-person in my fiction. That’s for a lot of reasons (mostly because it feels too limiting for my writing sensibilities). But maybe I need to open my mind and probe a little deeper about first-person. Let’s take a closer look at first-person and tease out the good and the bad.
What do you like or dislike about first-person pov? Do you regularly use it in your stories?
6 responses to “First-Person POV: The Good and the Bad”
I had never thought about the limitations of first (beyond only knowing what the character knows), but it takes a good character (like Jane Eyre) to make first person interesting.
And a strong stomach to read something like Lolita. I can’t.
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I’m the opposite, in the sense that I’ve only ever seen the limitations of first person and none of its benefits. Lately, however, I’ve been trying to see some of the benefits. I’m even hoping to give it a shot in a short story (I don’t think I could enjoy writing an entire novel in first person).
First person is very powerful for shorts; it allows the reader to BE the character. but it is an impersonation that doesn’t stand up well over long periods, unless written very well, because you aren’t the character, and the disconnect begins to show after a while.
I have a few shorts on my website that I especially like (liebjabberings.wordpress.com/free-short-stories/the-house-of-the-vord-sf-short-story/) that has exactly what you would expect: the flaws of something heartfelt being written (by the character) in one fell swoop before she goes off to do what she must. I have never dared touch it after writing it. It came as a piece.
But one of my favorites, Jane Eyre, is first person – and quite long – but maintains the persona. That’s what I mean by very well written.
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I absolutely agree. It’s great for shorts. I’ll definitely check out your story!
Hi Berneta! I’ve been checking out your blog, and I think you would be a good fit for a monthly author blog hop that I run. The theme is learning and resources for authors, and a fair number of your posts would work really well. I started the hop three years ago as a way for authors to both learn from each other and gain traction on the web, because the hop is also about reciprocal commenting/liking, and we share one another’s posts on social media. Anyway, more info about the hop is below, and whether you join or not, I look forward to reading more of your posts! https://raimeygallant.com/2017/03/22/authortoolboxbloghop/