Thursday, September 16, 2010

Writing in the First Person Point of View

Guest post by Dana Rongione

Point of view (POV) is the perspective from which a story is being told. In essence, it is the element that shows us who is telling the story. While there are several different points of view, only a few are widely used. In this article, we will be focusing on the First Person point of view.

The first person POV uses the pronouns "I" or "we." In a sense, you (the author) become the character who is telling the story. This is becoming a very popular way to tell a story because it brings the reader directly into the mind of your character, and therefore, into the story itself.

If attempting to write in the first person POV, it is imperative that you know your character inside and out. You must act, speak, and think as your character would. Not only that, but you must notice and pay attention to things that your character would. For example, if my husband and I were to walk into a store, my attention would immediately be drawn to the trendy clothing or adorable knick-knacks. My husband, on the other hand, would go directly to the tools or outdoor equipment, hardly noticing the things he passed along the way. Why? Because we have different interests. Our attention is drawn to things we are interested in. So it must be with your character if you are using this point of view.

When using first person POV, since your character is telling the story, that character can only tell what he or she knows. In other words, if your character is in the kitchen, he can't tell you what is going on in the living room unless he can hear or see the action taking place.

For this reason, one of the hardest things to do in the first person POV is to describe your character. If your character can only describe what he sees, unless he is looking in a mirror, personal description is lost. In addition, it is difficult to describe the character's personality without sounding like they're bragging. Fortunately, there are a few ways around this obstacle, and they include:

* Use a mirror (note: this has been overdone)
* Compare the character to another character in the story
* Have another character describe your main character
*Don't describe them - It has recently become acceptable to not describe your POV character at all as long as there is adequate description of the other elements in the story.

The first-person POV is very popular, and so it would be in your best interest to master its usage. Remember, the main key is to know your character and to essentially become that character in the telling of the story.

Dana Rongione is a full-time Christian author, speaker, and writing coach living in Greenville, SC. Want to know more about POV? You can find information about all aspects of fiction writing in her LearnWriteNow, e-class. Join the class now, or get the e-book version for less than you would pay for dinner.

1 comment:

  1. There are some genres that really benefit from first person POV. I have used a slightly different approach to description; have the character declare what they look like. The first person is narating to the reader, so it can be acceptable to have the speak directly to the reader.
    I grabbed my jeans from the closet and pulled them on. I'm lucky to be able to buy off the rack, apparently I'm built to the designer standard of size six, regular.



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