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Thread: Tips on writing in the first person

  1. #1
    The Last Spartan's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Tips on writing in the first person

    I'm trying to write a story, within which the story is told from the first person viewpoint of several different characters. However, I find it a little difficult to write from a point of view that's drastically different from my own. Any tips on this?

  2. #2
    Scottish King's Avatar Campidoctor
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    Default Re: Tips on writing in the first person

    That can be difficult. Myself I try to imagine that I'm seeing things happen through another persons eyes. So if someone fall in a mall I imagine seeing that person fall the point of view of someone on the floor about and that will be different from someone who was sitting down a few feet away having coffee. Really have to use your imagination to make it work.


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    Default Re: Tips on writing in the first person

    I find writing in first person harder than third person. Why? Because while 1st person allows you to explore the emotions and feelings of a main character more deeply than 3rd person, it is somewhat harder to create intricate plots when you can only focus on one person.

    On the topic of how to write in 1st person, Scottish King's advice is(as usual) very good. Just try and imagine that you're in the persons shoes so to speak. I myself find it easier if i almost act out the character who your writing as part. Say their lines as if you're experiencing what they're experiencing. For 1st person, it helps if you visualise the scene before you begin to write it. So find a comfortable seat, and just visualise the scene's ins and outs. It might seem weird talking to yourself but say each character's lines like your acting them out. They don't have to be the definite lines but something along the lines of what you'll end up writing. Hear the sounds they hear, smell the sounds they smell, see the sights they see.React to the other characters words like your character would. Are they an evil character? If so they may talk in a condescending voice and their words might be words of mock. If they are a good character, they might be more reserved or they might offer words of wisdom. Are they smart or dumb? This will effect the words you say. Also, think about the social standing of a character. A peasant might not know much about politics and so, won't be able to deduce what the words of senators or kings mean or won't be able to offer his insight into the machinations at court.

    In the end, just let your imagination flow, it is often the best route for all righting.

    Hope this helps,

    Merchant of Venice

  4. #4

    Default Re: Tips on writing in the first person

    Further to points made by Merchant of Venice, I would add that in first person you can use the way in which you describe things to characterise the protagonist. Since descriptions are part of the 1st person character's way of seeing the world, you can express their views on things through them. For example, it might be more interesting to go into detail describing a beautiful sunset, but if your character doesn't care about that sort of thing, then you should make that clear with a blunt and short description. Pretty much every line written in the first person is character building, so you just need to keep this in mind whenever describing a scene, the action of another character or the character's understanding of what is happening in story.

    It certainly makes things harder as it limits you a bit. For example, a hard-nosed cop type character might never comment on how is partner is a handsome man, so if you want the reader to know this fact, you have to go out of your way to get the point across. However, I find this challenge makes things more fun and leads to more 'show don't tell' style writing which is generally considered more interesting to read.

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    Shankbot de Bodemloze's Avatar From the Writers Study!
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    Default Re: Tips on writing in the first person

    If you are finding it difficult to write from another perspective other than yours try doing some sample works of writing first person with really over-exaggerated viewpoints so to practice writing different personalities etc. and whilst it may seem really noticeable at first you can develop the same viewpoints just toned down as your confidence in writing different POVs increase.

    The TotW is a good place to try this out.
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    Default Re: Tips on writing in the first person

    Quote Originally Posted by Shankbot de Bodemloze View Post
    If you are finding it difficult to write from another perspective other than yours try doing some sample works of writing first person with really over-exaggerated viewpoints so to practice writing different personalities etc. and whilst it may seem really noticeable at first you can develop the same viewpoints just toned down as your confidence in writing different POVs increase.

    The TotW is a good place to try this out.
    Hear, hear!

    I agree with this, as most of my TotW entries (3 in total ) are writing experiments in one way or another.
    Spoiler Alert, click show to read: 
    e.g. My post-apocalyptic entry was the result of an attempt to imagine what it'd be like if Homer'd be living in a world devastated by nuclear war.

    But enough with the self-praise, I think there's been some good advice in this thread and hopefully some more will be added. I can only add that I usually find it easier when I first picture the POV character in my mind and then create a RP-like trait list. May sound stupid, but I find it helps me keep a consistent narrative, instead of creating contradictory statements and uncharacteristic actions.
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  7. #7
    Radzeer's Avatar Rogue Bodemloze
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    Default Re: Tips on writing in the first person

    First person writing is powerful but it is also challenging. I think the biggest challenge is to maintain the first person narrative for a longer time. For instance, my first and third AARs are first person and shorter. My second AAR is third person and quite long. It may just be me though.
    A good example for a sustained first person narrative is the Name of the Rose, although it is only one person.

    If you have shifting POVs, you can experiment with third person limited POV. This is how Ken Follett has been writing. Each main character has a personality and viewpoint, but it is written in third person giving you a bit more flexibility telling the story (and less pressure to immerse in multiple first person viewpoints).

  8. #8

    Default Re: Tips on writing in the first person

    Very helpful. If you want to naturally add a little plot and depth to your characters, i suggest lying obligatory. It gives so much more depth to a character when it lies, and when different characters lie for different reasons in different situations. So the web continues, until your character becomes its own entity and you fear that everything you write next about your character will be inconsistent, with what you wrote earlier.

    My problem lies with grammar, i have much difficulty deciding when to end a sentence and bending my verbs from time to time.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Tips on writing in the first person

    Writing is a planned activity to put one's ideas, thoughts and plans to paper. Writing is of many kinds, i.e. academic writing, analytical writing, creative writing, report writing etc. Simply, a three step procedure is adopted for writing, i.e. planning, writing, and completing after revising. Last week i have planned to buy term papers online due to my lack of academic writing skills. Writing is an important medium of communication. Simple and clear writing conveys its message easily and efficiently, but tough language, ambiguous words; difficult tense structure can be a hurdle in better communication.

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