Why I Love First Person
by Lisa Gail Green
- First person forces us to delve inside the mind of our MC. If we don’t know that character inside and out, we will never be able to pull it off and sound authentic. As an actress, I was used to regularly getting “into character.” When I tried first person, something magical happened. I became the character, and expressed myself as that person. Now, when someone is having trouble with voice, I often recommend they try rewriting a page, or even a chapter, in first person. It’s a great exercise whether you decide to stick with it or not.
- First person allows us to present information from a in a skewed perspective. That’s right. The protagonist’scharacter’s viewpoint may not be an accurate view of reality, but that allows us, as writers, to take a few more liberties with our writing. Do your character’s internal thoughts contradict the evidence the reader receives from the dialogue? That's not a bad thing. It can add an extra layer of depth to your story.
- First person constrains the information available to the reader. Particularly if there’s a mystery aspect to your story, it might benefit you to stay within the limitations of a first-person narrative. That way when clues are revealed, the audience discovers them along with the MC. Either way the reader can learn and explore vicariously along with your protag.
- First person allows us more freedom with the writing itself. Does your MC have a particular way of speaking? Does she think in sentence fragments? Does she use incorrect grammar? First person lets us explore these possibilities and gives us an additional way to reveal character through the words they use to tell their story.
- First person can make it easier to use unique description. The way your character interacts with and views her surroundings can be a far more interesting way for the reader to explore your world. And it’s a great vehicle for voice. You know, voice? That thing agents and editors always talk about. Voice is all about perspective, so dig deep and let your MC’s viewpoint shine.
There you have it! Five reasons I think first person rocks. Are you ready to dive in? Have you tried it already, as an exercise or as a whole novel? Share your thoughts. Which do you prefer to write? Which do you prefer to read?