I’m at a turning point with respect to my manuscript. It’s written and revised but, strangely, the male point of view (POV) is in the third person limited while the female POV is in the first-person. I did this to help me keep their voices distinct while I was writing, but now I’m thinking about changing it.

Want to know more about POV? See our definitive point of view guide here.
point of view (pov)

Photo by Sherman Geronimo-Tan (creative commons). Adapted by The Write Practice.

As you can see, I have struggled with the point of view question. It’s so important, but how do you really know which is right for your story? To help myself (and now you), I turned to my trusted guide This Year You Write Your Novel by Walter Mosley.

Mosley’s advice is too good to reduce to one post, so I will discuss his tips on the First-Person Narrative, Third Person Narrative, and Omniscient Voice in a series of posts over the coming weeks.

Today, let’s begin the conversation by going over first-person narrative.

First-Person Narrative

First-person narrative is when the “I” voice tells the story:

I met Josh Sanders on the first day of March 1963. He was a shy man with big hands and an earthy smell about him. He reminded me of my grandfather, who I hated more than Judas.

First-Person Narrative is the Most Familiar Voice

The “I” voice is the most familiar storytelling voice. It’s great because it’s the point of view that readers can relate to best. It’s intimate, which is powerful.

However, first-person narrative can be difficult because the character or POV must be incredibly engaging. Her story must evoke strong feelings in us that make us compelled to care about her.

First-Person Point of View is Also Limited

The first-person POV is limited because every piece of information must come from the character. This is not a bad thing, but it is something to be conscious of. The only way he can know things is if someone told him, taught him, or he otherwise experienced.

For example, you as the writer can’t insert your psychological musings about another character into the manuscript, unless that matches his level of education.

Another thing about this limited perspective that I find interesting is that it’s considered to be unreliable. The reader understands that she can’t completely trust what the character is saying because it’s only her view.

I personally liked this because I wanted my character to make certain decisions that anyone would disagree with, but make sense for her (because she’s essentially blinded by love).

Break Up the First-Person Narrative

With the first-person point of view, the reader only knows what the speaker knows; however, there are ways to give the character information.

For example, she can have conversations, read articles, or have dreams that reveal important events in her life.

Mosley even suggests having her read parts of another book with a different narrative voice to switch up the flow. The world is your oyster!

Want to know more about POV? See our definitive point of view guide here.

Which point of view do you enjoy reading the most?

PRACTICE

Take fifteen minutes to write a scene in the first-person narrative. Share with us below!

Monica M. Clark
Monica M. Clark
Monica is a lawyer trying to knock out her first novel. She lives in D.C. but is still a New Yorker. You can follow her on her blog or on Twitter (@monicamclark).