Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Book Reviews and Writing Tips

Sunday, May 12, 2013

A Word about Writing in First Person POV

For anyone contemplating this, it is very difficult. I’m writing my fourth novel in first person. I’ve always wanted to use this to write a book, instead of the usual third person. I’m running into all kinds of difficulties.

Here is something I had to learn: If the main character cannot see, hear, touch, smell, taste, think, know, or feel it, then you can’t include it. This goes for whoever the character is in each chapter of your first person novel. This took awhile to hit home for me, but if you remember that you’ll be okay when using first person POV. You can imply nothing, so the character may be on the phone but they cannot see through the phone lines and know what the other character is doing while they’re having a conversation. You can only write what they actually hear the person say to them.

My original thought on using first person was to be “up close and personal.” First person creates an intimate perspective. It is easier to jump into the characters head. What are they feeling and thinking throughout the story? Put yourself in their place. In my thinking, you can achieve this best by using first person POV, but when you try to work many characters into a novel, it is very difficult, as you have to have a separate chapter for each person. This is quite challenging to do.

This novel is my first mystery. Looking at this now, I can see that this viewpoint would work better in other genres. When looking back, I think I would have been able to achieve the desired results easier in one of my fantasy novels. With mystery, there is a lot of investigation; so many people come into play. How many first person points of view can you actually have in a novel before it becomes too much?

I’m getting there slowly, but I mainly wanted to make you writers aware of the difficulties involved when you try to use first person in your writing. If you’re thinking about using this POV in any future works, think about it closely. I think my mystery will be okay in the end, but I’m not sure I would attempt another book in this genre using this POV.


Karthik Narayan said...

these are very useful ideas thanks so much :)

Sunni said...


Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I hope I have helped you. I am finding that writing my newest novel in first person is very challenging.