I’m going to state right off the bat that I am not a fan of writing in the first person. I’ll explain why in this post.
First of all, first person point of view is writing your story with “I.” For example, “I went to the store” versus “you went to the store” (second person) or “he went to the store” (third person).
So, before we get into why I struggle with writing in the first person, I’m going to attempt to say nice things.
The good news is that writing in the first person makes your reader feel a real connection to the character. It’s a deeply personal point of view, and many novice writers might find it easier. It can be useful to start off your story in the first person.
All right, let’s get into it.
The problem with first person is that it basically encourages you to be lazy with your writing. This sounds harsh, but it’s true. You’ve heard of “show, don’t tell,” right? First person makes it so much easier to fall into the trap of telling.
It’s so much easier to write “I was disappointed” rather than “Her stomach sunk, and she couldn’t look him in the eyes. The disappointment weighed down on her.” See the difference?
The Hunger Games is one example of a story that suffers from first person. Don’t get me wrong. I love the story. I love the characters. I think the trilogy is brilliant. But the writing drives me crazy. I could barely get through it last time because I kept noticing sections that would be stronger without first person.
I’m not saying that it’s impossible to write well in the first person. You can do it. It’s just far more difficult than people seem to think. It takes a ruthless editor and the understanding of its pitfalls.
What’s my recommendation? Third person. Even if you’re a novice writer, third person is going to encourage you to be creative and really think about how to show emotions and events. Third person also helps you to disconnect from your characters and really see them as their own person rather than simply an extension of you.
I recently had a client who was writing in the first person, and I encouraged her to just experiment with the third person. She came back and told me that she really felt like her writing had improved and that her story was better for the change. Be like her. Try a third person point of view.
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