“Every secret of a writer’s soul, every experience of his life, every quality of his mind, is written large in his works.”
—Virginia Woolf

Are You Writing From the Right Point of View?

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 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!

About 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).

  • Miriam N

    Yes Narrative is a thing I’ve been struggling with on my own WIP. I still don’t know which is best for me as the writer to write in. I’ve been switching back from first to third but can’t seem to find what i truly like as of yet. I can’t wait to hear the other post voicing your thoughts on other points of view.
    Also, I’ll be posting my practice later maybe. (doing nano so it might not work but we’ll see). Happy Writing!
    (Woot first to comment!)

  • Victoria I. Sanchez

    I am really excited that this topic is being explored on The Write Practice. It’s something I’ve been struggling with too. Breaking up my first-person narrative has given me the most trouble.

    Currently, I have alternating chapters of (loosely structured) third person limited and a fairly solid first person narrative, but I’m not sure if I’m doing the right thing. All I know is that these POVs are helping me get to know my characters a little better; their perspectives are likely to change in the final stages of editing.

    Here’s my sample:

    Sickle-shaped light burned my eyes. I couldn’t measure time in the windowless cell, so I didn’t know when the door was opened last. I had been cocooned in silence for so long that the sound of the metal door grating against stones threatened to tear my ears apart.

    “Here, filth!”

    The plate was thrown at me and scraps rolled to the ground. There was the clink of chains as I moved towards the light. I didn’t care for the food. Just the light. But just as quickly as it was opened, the door was closed, and I was in the darkness again. Then the screaming began. I covered my ears as the screams echoed. I should’ve been prepared; he always started after the door was closed. The cries were shattering—and I pitied the poor fool who was now beyond reason. That is, until I realized with a dim sort of horror that my throat was burning and I was breathless—the screams were coming from me.

    • Wow. That is some gripping prose, Victoria. I like how it grows in intensity, culminating at the end.

      • Victoria I. Sanchez

        Thanks, Joy. 🙂

    • Helaine Grenova

      That is an impressive start of a story. If I had read I book that began like that, I would certainly have read all the way to the end. Your first person POV is quite impressive.

      • Victoria I. Sanchez

        Thank you, Helaine! I’m running a small online critiquing group at the moment (we share our stories via Google Docs). Let me know if you’re interested!

        • Helaine Grenova

          I am definitely interested! I just started really writing and finished my first short story and sent it to a publishing company yesterday.

          • Victoria I. Sanchez

            Awesome! My email is victoria.i.sanz@gmail.com. Just drop me a line and I’ll introduce you to the group!

        • Victoria I would also like to join your critiquing group. Should I e-mail you as well?

    • Miriam N

      Wow Victoria, your writing sent me into that room. I felt the desire for light, and finding none. I an very intrigued by this piece. I want to know what happens next, no i NEED to know what happens next. Very well done, very well indeed :).

      • Victoria I. Sanchez

        Thank you, Miriam! If you want to read a bit more, I run an online writing group. Everyone in the group shares a few pages every other week via email. Let me know if you’d like to join.

        • Miriam N

          That sounds awesome Victoria. I’d love to join in on that :).

    • SandyW

      Good clean scene here. We want to know more. Why are you locked up? Who is screaming? Good description. The darkness is palpable.

      • Victoria I. Sanchez

        Hi Sandy! Thank you very much.

    • Prince A.

      Wow! The descriptions were so good and flowed smoothly through the whole piece. The ending was a surprise for me as it was for the the character. I’m wanting to read more and see how things play out.

      • Victoria I. Sanchez

        Thanks, Prince!

    • Wolf271

      Wow, that was amazing! I really felt your character’s emotions. It’s brilliant! 🙂

  • Thank you for these tips, Monica!
    First person is my preferred POV when writing. It’s what naturally flows for me, and it’s also what I’m using for my WIP. I also know that I need to add some different perspectives to give my story more depth and realness though, but I’m not quite sure how I’m going to do that. NaNoWriMo gives me the opportunity to experience with different ideas though.
    Currently, I am reading “The Distant Hours” by Kate Morton. Part of the book is written in first person POV and the other part is in third person POV telling a story from 50 years previous. I think Morton does a god job of combining the two and it makes for a more intriguing story.

    • Victoria I. Sanchez

      Now, THAT is an idea.Third person POV from fifty years previous? What an interesting take on POV. I might play around with that and read that book too. Thanks for sharing!

      • You’re welcome, VIctoria! 🙂 It definitely is an interesting idea.

  • Joseph A. Hesch

    Here are the first three paragraphs of the first draft of a story I’m writing called (at this point) “Heathens.” Sometimes a first person POV can be a little more interesting if the narrator may or may not be as reliable as he should be.

    ———————–

    Around dawn our camp woke to Lukie Staple hollering from the other side of the locust grove where his pa was sitting out by the horse line. It was Ol’ Luke Staple’s night to watch the herd, a task each man had done since the night I caught that Cheyenne boy trying to steal my Pa’s Kentucky blood stallion.

    “Something not right with that boy, Abel,” my Pa said as we was running to check on the stock and Ol’ Luke.

    No one was sure what time Ol’ Luke died, but he wasn’t watching the horses when he did. Whoever killed him had taken out his eyes first, my Pa said. That made three of our menfolk killed watching the herd over the past two weeks. All of them were the ones what strung up and then cut that Cheyenne boy. All of them found with their heads stove in. All of them missing parts like they took off that boy.

    • EndlessExposition

      I love this! I can’t really tell much about the narrator from it, but the voice feels authentic. The setup is intriguing. Hope you post more of this story, I’d love to see where it goes!

      • Joseph A. Hesch

        Thanks. I appreciate your comment. I’ve finished the first draft. Now I have a lot of work to go back and fix the math, logic and plot, not to mention everything else about it. Just over 3,200 words (hence I posted only those three grafs) that I might some day submit somewhere or keep for a collection.

    • SandyW

      I like the voice you are writing in. I’ve tried doing dialect before and I always seem to get bogged down in it. Do you find you have trouble staying in character, so to speak?

      Oh… and the snippet made me what more! I want to know what/who killed Ol’ Luke! Well written!

  • Miriam N

    Alright so I managed to get in my practice before working on my nano. Here it is I hope you like it.

    A hand covered my mouth shaking me from my sleep.

    “Don’t move girlie or it will be the last thing you do.” a deep voice growled making my heart race. “Now you be a good girl and get up slowly, don’t try anything funny or I’ll befored to use not so pleasent means to get you to cooperate.

    I nodded wondering what on earth was going on. I didn’t remember who i was or, for that matter, where i was. It was completely and totally disorientating. This mans matter did not’ help to calm my nerves or offer comfort.

    His hand was removed from my mouth with the threat implied. You scream you’ll regret it. Should i try anyway? what would be better getting captured or risking hurt just in case someone heard me and could help me. I couldn’t decided wich.

    The room i was in was lite with pale blue moonlight coming from the window beside my bed. On any other night the light would have seemed beautiful but tonight it only served to ignite my fears.

    Once i was on my feet I was instantly grabbed and bound hand and foot. If i wanted to scream now was the moment. I took a deep breath to do just that when a cloth was shoved in to my mouth choking out all sound.

    “You’ll regret that Margaret, mark my words.” Margret? who was Margaret? Who am I?

    I was in complete confused horror at what was happening. What would my parents think when i was gone? did i have parents? I couldnt’ remember anything and this alone troubled me.

    I was turned to face another man I didn’t’ recognize who was holding a gunny sack in both of his hands. Before i could struggle or do anything i was shoved forward landing head first into the bag.

    It was quickly tied behind me and i was lifted up. Cramped, scared and lonely they dragged me off into the night. the bag smelled familiar but before I could think of from where its smell overtook me casting me into a dizzying unconsciousness.

    • Helaine Grenova

      I like you first person POV. Your story is so gripping that I almost want to check behind me as I type to make sure no one is coming for me. Good job!

      • Miriam N

        Thanks Helaine! I absolutely writing like that. When I write scenes like this i’m at my happiest. It makes me wonder if i should indeed become an Action writer. I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    • Dragondog7

      This was amazing! You did a really good job creating this. I love the action and hint of mystery you have.

  • Lauren Timmins

    My hair waved side to side with the motion of my head. “No.” I repeated this word over and over. My tongue would touch the back of my teeth, my jaw would drop, and the word would sound. Maybe it would bring her back. I grasped the cold, frozen hand and denied reality once more. The small, frail hand did not warm. The eyes staring into the distance did not waver. The blood in the snow did not pour back into her severed jugular.
    “No.”
    I let myself say it one more time. My hand released hers, my back found the bark of a pine tree, my knees curled into my chest. I could only stare at the crimson pool on the glittering snow, and deny that my sister was dead. When was her sixth birthday? Yesterday? No. Two months ago. My neck cracked with another jerk of my head. I would not think about how young she was. I needed to move on, I needed to leave before the things that killed her came back. I willed my legs to move, but they did not. My desperation for her to wake up, tell me that the red was ketchup, or food coloring held me captive.
    “Polly.”
    Who was calling my name?
    “Polly, come on!”
    Ruby? I stood, only to find I was already standing. My head hit something. I looked up to find wood, slanted at a forty-five degree angle on each side to form a triangle.
    “The tea is almost done.”
    My voice had reverted back into its eleven year old self. My hand moved to pour invisible tea into a chipped plastic cup. Ruby beamed and slurped the air down with gusto.
    “That’s very good tea. Wanna cookie?”
    “Yes please. This is a very good cookie.”
    “I made it just for you!”
    Ruby beamed at me, her smile crooked with a missing tooth and red marker around her lips.
    “Like my lipstick?”
    “I do. Maybe we can do your hair too.”
    “Yay! I love you Polly!”
    A long, high howl brought me back to the frozen tundra. I pulled Ruby’s body into my arms and kissed her bloodstained hair under the setting sun.
    “I love ya too Rubes. I love you too. We can have tea when I find you again, okay?”
    Another howl. The creatures who took my sister were returning. I took my makeshift spear into my right hand, the tip hardened with fire. I wouldn’t let them take all of her. They would have to kill me first.

    • SandyW

      Time shift? Dimension shift? What a great tease! Is Polly seeing a vision? Is she going back in time or into another world? Good job with description and making us wonder what is going on…nice little tease and potential here for a longer, exciting story!

  • Helaine Grenova

    The colors of the sunset sweep through my room, the vivid reds, the golden yellows and the luminescent oranges, drawing my eye from the school work spread out on my desk. I was more than ready for a break and the sunset was providing to be a marvelous distraction. In an instant I was at the window, tearing up the sash and
    sticking my head outside into the wonderful breeze. The heady smell of fresh
    cut grass filled my nostrils and bewitched my senses. The colors of the sunset
    started to fade are I watched the giant orangey-yellow orb that was the sun
    disappear behind the tall mountains of my homeland. When darkness finally fell
    I walked back to the desk, only to realize that this work was not something
    that I wanted to do. Who wanted to do math on an evening like this? Why not see
    if I could get some friends together at the local ice cream parlor to get some
    sherbet?

    Soon the group of us laughing and talking filled the little parlor. There were ten of us
    and we were having a ball confusing the poor ice cream man as he tried to fill
    all of the orders properly. I smile contentedly. This is what I wanted; no,
    this is what I needed after the stresses of spring semester. Together, the icy
    coldness of the ice cream and the warm happy atmosphere of the room relaxed away
    the tension that I had been carrying from an overbearing workload. Soon the ice cream had all been eaten and it
    was time to return home.

    As I unlocked the door to my house minutes later, still smelling the freshly cut
    grass, I realized one thing that I had never even thought of before: a day to relax
    was even more powerful than a hundred days working. With this short break, no
    more than a few hours in length, I felt like I could run a marathon, or maybe
    just get back to the overlooked math homework.

    • Miriam N

      I liked this Helaine. It reminds me of myself and the amount of stress that’s been put upon me this month. Perhaps I need to take a break from it all even if it is just for a few hours. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • SandyW

    “It won’t work that way.” I said, watching clinically as Laney tied knots in the string. “I don’t think it should be so long.” The cat wriggled under my hands. “The stick is gonna drag in the dirt and put the fire out.”

    “Oh, you know so much!” He began to tie the stick to the string. The other end was tied to the cat’s tail. “You ever done this before?”

    “Of course not. I don’t go around setting cats on fire. If it does work, what if a house catches on fire or somethin?”

    “Then the fire trucks will come! That would be cool!”

    The cat suddenly twisted all the way around in the middle, the way cats do, and sank his teeth into the back of my hand. “Ouch! He bit me!” I sucked on my injured hand.

    Laney was hanging onto the cat by one hind leg. It kicked and clawed with all three other legs and Laney had to let go. “Hey!” he yelled as the cat streaked away, string trailing behind it. “I shoulda known better than to let a girl help.” The disgust in his voice cut me deep, but I didn’t let on.

    He began to dig in his pocket. “Let me show you somethin!” He held a dried up claw in his hand.

    I sucked in my breath. “What is it?” I tentatively reached a finger towards the withered thing.

    “A baby dragon claw!”

    I snatched my hand back. “No it isn’t! It’s a chicken foot.”

    “How would you know? And anyway, my Ma says you’re adopted.”

    I stared at him. “What?”

    “My Ma says you’re adopted. Everybody knows it. You weren’t even born in this town!”

    “You’re lying!” The walls of the shed seemed to lurch and sway around me and I felt like I’d been gut-punched.

    “Just go ask your Ma.” He said, and walked out of the shed.

    >>>

    “Susan! You’re late! Supper’s ready. Go wash your hands and set the table.” My raven-haired mother was taking biscuits out of the oven. I didn’t look anything like her. She was tall and slender, with blue eyes and long eyelashes. She had been a catalog model when she was younger, but gave it up after she married my Dad and had me. Or so she said.

    “Well? Why are you just standing there?” She looked me over. I knew she saw a short, stocky, muddy haired twelve-year-old girl with freckles and brown eyes. I wasn’t developing any kind of a chest yet, either. Eight girls I knew already had their monthlies. When would I become a woman? I was getting tired of waiting. “Just look at your hands!” Mom picked them up. “You’re bleeding!”

    “Cat scratches.” I said, shrugging.

    “Well, we have to clean them right now. Cat scratches get infected easily!” She marched me to the bathroom. Running water, she put a generous dollop of anti bacterial soap in my palm. “Scrub them!” She got betadine from the medicine cabinet.

    “Not betadine!” I groaned.

    “It’s the best thing.”

    As she began dabbing my scratches, I studied her face. She looked into my eyes. “What?” she said.

    “Am I adopted?”

    She went totally still for a moment, then resumed dabbing. “Of course not! Whatever gave you that idea?”

    “Laney said his Ma told him.”

    “Oh. Laney. You know I don’t like you hanging around with him!”

    “No one else was home. Then I’m not adopted?”

    “If you were, would your baby pictures look exactly like your Grandma’s? And would you look so much like your Aunt Sophie?”

    I felt my stomach unclench. “I hadn’t thought of that.” I laughed with relief.

    “You can’t believe everything people tell you, young lady. Especially Laney Smith!”

    As Dad, Mom and I ate supper, I began to feel uneasy again. Something tugged at the back of my mind. I was going to have to think about this some more. In the meantime, I’d enjoy my Mom’s Chicken casserole and try not to think about dried up chicken claws.

    • Victoria I. Sanchez

      This is a great pair of dialogues. The thing about first-person POV is that you can juxtapose different characters to your protagonists to see how differently they react. It’s one of the things I love most about first-person. You’ve got a mini cast of interesting, developed characters in this sample. I want to know more about the girl and her mother, and I already detest Laney Smith! LOL.
      Idk if you’d be interested in joining a small critiquing group, but one of our participants is having a baby and another one is in school. There’s room for some more members. It’s a small, humble group, but it’s fun! If you’re up for it, let me know. I’ve already told a few others on this post, but I think you’d be a great addition too! 🙂

  • Prince A.

    I had a bit a difficulty writing this one. I stuck to 15minutes so the story isn’t as complete. Please let me know what you think and how I could maybe improve on it.

    First Person Exercise:

    What is it about hallways that caused the student bodies to stare at me like cats to a flashlight as I walk to my class? My footsteps hesitated not because of the unevenness of the worn tiles, but the lack of preparedness for my teacher’s demands for me to be a scholar. I rubbed my dry hands together in an attempt to make fire to knock off the chill from the winter air that stalked me. In effort to continue to avoid eye contact, I stared at the wall posts that seem to blur in and out in spite, frustrated at my choice to not wear
    my glasses today.

    “Finally,” I whispered as I reached the holy door that would save me from this daily walk of shame through the bright asylum, also known as the hallway. I turned only to be cut off by the weird nerd couple stuck at the hip like Siamese twins. It’s really sick that they want to attach their minds to this intoxicating school that bullies us for tuition. My feet could only pause, as my face couldn’t hide the road rage sign plastered on my bulletin board forehead.

    • Victoria I. Sanchez

      I think this is an interesting way to describe a student’s walk down a hall. Walking through a school can be like running a gauntlet, so I think this does a good job of portraying that.

      There are a few things that I think you probably would have caught if you had more time to write and edit, but I’ll go ahead and mention them anyway to share what I saw.

      I personally believe the word “seems” needs to be struck out of the dictionary. The wall posts don’t seem to blur—especially if the protagonist isn’t wearing his/her glasses. The wall posts are blurred. Even if it’s an emotional reaction to the stress of walking down the hallway, you don’t need the word “seem”; what the character is experiencing is made more powerful without anything watering it down. I do like the cat/student description and I’m more interested to find out about this teacher and why he/she is putting such high demands on the student. All in all, sounds cool! You know, I’m running a small online critiquing group at the moment from fellow writers who read “The Write Practice.” Let me know if you’re interested! Thanks for sharing!

      • Prince A.

        Thank you for you comment! You happened to point out the things I was a bit weary of myself, I just didn’t know why. I’m understand your critique that seem should not have been used.

        I think I would be interested in the small critique group. I’m not completely sure what a critique group does, though. Thanks again for the comment.

        • Victoria I. Sanchez

          Hey Prince, sorry I missed this! We just comment on the piece as a whole and mention parts we think were effective and parts we think weren’t. It’s opinion based, but I think it’s really helpful! My email is victoria.i.sanz@gmail.com. 🙂

          • Prince A.

            Thanks! Sounds awesome. I’ll email soon. I’ve been pretty busy with school and getting ready for finals, but I would enjoy being part of the group.

  • Michael

    I slumped back into my chair and shoved the stacks of disorganized paper aside.
    Work was hard, I had to pay my bills and my novel wasn’t going anywere, worst week ever.
    I glanced at the burning fireplace, tempeted to burn my story and start from scratch.
    A knock from the door saved my novel from becoming a pile of worthless ash.

    I entered the corridor, the smell of of shoe cream and worn coats filled my nose.
    Wearliy I oppened the door, and a cry of “Happy birthday” filled the air.
    I checked the calendar, how could I forget about my own birthday?
    My unexpected guests called me outside, at first I said some sort of silly excuse, but then let myself have a a break.

    First snowflakes floated gently from the starry sky, all my exhaustion and fustration was gone. I breathed in the clear, night air.

    Best.
    Day.
    Ever.

    • SandyW

      Aww I love this!

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  • Wolf271

    I think I probably over ran a bit… Any comments would be appreciated.

    I was definitely guilty in the eyes of the Goddess. After all, I had been the one who broke into the database of records; I had been the one who had taken out the guards along the perimeter fence so I could leave the Guild Hall without permission; and I had definitely been the one who had snuck across the boundary line in the dead of night into the territory of our sworn enemies. But it wasn’t my fault!
    If nobody had lied to me about my mother’s death for my whole life then I wouldn’t have searched the database. I wouldn’t have found out that my father was a murderer and a rapist and also one of our sworn enemies. If I hadn’t been lied to then I wouldn’t have felt the need to disobey some of our most sacred laws.
    At that moment I was prowling along the city rooftops, searching for my father’s house. The roof tiles were slippers with ice and the wind bit into my skin under my leather jacket. There were no streetlights so I was navigating by touch. Up ahead I heard approaching voices. I crouched lower, praying that I wouldn’t be noticed. Then I stopped praying because the Goddess was probably going to kill me when I got back.
    The first voice was deeper, a man of maybe 35.
    “We lost 50 in the past week,” he was saying.
    “50?” asked the second. He sounded like a boy of about my own age. As the wind blew harder, my vision winked out for a second. My head had started throbbing.
    “I know,” replied the first man.
    “We’re not going to be able to replace them any time soon,” said the second. That voice, I recognised it! But who was it? Who?
    The pounding in my head had intensified. My already-limited vision was blurring. I could barely breathe through the pain.
    “The new recruits aren’t ready for battle yet,” said the boy. Each syllable felt like a stab to my mind. I felt like my head was being shredded with knives. My breath was coming out in laboured gasps. Control, control.
    “Shh, what’s that?” asked the man. The world began to sway gently back and forth. The building was moving. I was losing my footing. My body fell to the ground. I was vaguely aware of the two men standing beside me.
    “Shit,” said the man, poking me with his toe.
    “No way, it’s not…” the boy’s voice trailed away. That voice, I did know it! The boy knelt down and brushed the hair from my face. Our eyes met. Recognition sparked his and memories I didn’t know I had flashed across my eyes. He was my father’s son. My half-brother? No, my brother. My twin brother.
    “Lina,” he whispered.
    “Marco,”
    “You murdering, traitorous bitch!”

  • WritingJean

    Well, considering the narrative of your story is worth the time you spend on it. This is, basically, the way how you engage your reader into whatever you’re telling.

    Here’s my little story. My apologies for the English skills, still learning this beautiful language of Chaucer and Hemingway.

    At the platform edge
    The blow of air from the underground tube touched my
    face.
    I remember everything. I remember how I met her for
    the first time when the heat was unbearable. It was in the travel bureau, she
    just started to work there. It was so sweet how she tried to be confident. She
    tried to look like a professional. But her eyes let her down this time. This look,
    like one of a lost child. She couldn’t compete with me in geography and
    national cultures. After five minutes she was listening to me as I were a
    teacher. I didn’t have much time, but I couldn’t stop. I fell in love with her
    eyes then.
    Oh, these eyes. A year later I was still drowning in
    them. She’d still adored my stories. And I’ve still been telling them.
    The lights of the train are approaching.
    “Please stand back from the platform edge,” senseless
    voice said.
    Few words on my phone screen pushed me over the edge.
    “I love you, but it’s over. Sorry. You’re the best I’ve
    ever had.”
    How stupid I am. Too late…

  • Clara Bates

    I didn’t time this. I struggle with first person so I think this probably took longer than 15 minutes.

    A breeze flows down the field, making the pale grass dip up and down like a sea of pale green. It washes over me, and the grass tickles my face as I stare up at the cloudless sky. The sun beats down on my skin with its pleasant warmth. Under any other circumstances I would have fallen asleep. But not today.
    “Find her, bring me her HEAD!” a gruff voice shouts, and I hear feet thumping on the ground nearby. I shrink deeper into the grass, and slowly inch farther into the dip I’m hiding in. Fear courses through my veins, I hold my breath, hoping they won’t find me.
    Suddenly a rotten cent fills my nostrils and I gagg, jerking up with my hands over my mouth.
    “I found her!” A gravelly voice yells, right behind me. I spin around and see one of the human hunters with an arrow pointed at me, he is the source of the sickening smell. “Die, filth.” He releases the arrow but I’m already gone. I’m racing across the field, towards the safety of the woods, with what sounds like an army at my heels. And they all want to kill me.
    I sprint closer to the trees, the grass is pulling at my legs, getting tangled, slowing me down. Arrows whiz past my ears and imbed themselves in the ground, inches away from me.
    I finally burst into the forest. Now I have a chance. Hurdling over logs, dodging under branches. I go deeper and deeper, eventually I can’t hear my pursuers any more. I stumble to a stop, exhausted. My heart begins to slow down to its normal speed, my limbs are heavy and sleep tugs at my eyelids. I can’t keep them open…
    Pain blossoms in my side and jarrs me out of slumber. I’m tied to a tree with a sword stabbed in my side, blood oozing through the ropes and dripping to the ground.
    The man at the other end of the weapon has an ugly scarred face. An evil light shines in his dull eyes.
    “That woke ye up, dint it?” He chuckles, it sounds like two rocks scraping against each other. I bite my lip, keeping the cry of agony inside. I feel my lip tear and taste its blood. “We don want yer type round here,” he grunts “magic ain’t toleraded, its demonic.” I glare at him and he smirks. “I don know or care what y’are, but y’arnt normal.” He says, nodding to my elf like ears, and glowing silver eyes. Yes, they glow. Literally.

    “Now I’ll send ye to de depths of hell, where ye belong.” He pulls out his sword and prepares to plunge it into my body for a fatal blow. “Any last words?”
    “There’s only one ugly demon here, and I’m staring at it.” I say, infuriating it. He yells and thrusts his blade at me. But just before it kills me, I close my eyes and feel a magical energy course through my limbs. I open my eyes and a bright light shoots out of me, engulfing my surroundings. Everything is drowned out by the whiteness, and for a second everything is silent.

    Okay I should probably stop now. This is an idea for a story I want to write where anything or anyone related to magic is hunted down. The girl is an elf by the way. Tell me what you think.

    • Your writing is enchanting and the story is interesting. I would read it. But your words are jagged in some places. For example-

      “A breeze flows down the field, making the pale grass dip up and down like a sea of pale green. It washes over me, and the grass tickles my face as I stare up at the cloudless sky. The sun beats down on my skin with its pleasant warmth.”

      These are three sentences. If I were to make them sorter and simple they would have a better rhythm. Although this line was perrrfect. “Under any other circumstances I would have fallen asleep. But not today.”

      I think with a little more practice you would be able to make them flow much easier. Keep trying. 🙂 We have to hang in there!”

      • Clara Bates

        Thanks for your advice and encouragement, I’ll gladly take both 🙂

  • Colby Davidson

    A/N: Hey fellow writers!
    I decided to do a good old fashioned Colby-and-May story from my point of view. It’s about the first time we met in Ayrelby Small Fries Kindergarten. It’s definitely a first draft at best, but my editorial committee gets annoyed when I pester her all the time with this project, so any feedback would be overbearingly appreciated! Note: I am not against homeschooling by any means. However it is worth noting that there weren’t that many other homeschoolers in Ayrelby when Katherine and I were little and we had a single mom on top of that so we (or I, at least) became kind of antisocial. Also note that five-year-olds, as I am learning, are expert storytellers, so I’m not revealing if what May says about the mermaids is really true or not. But anyway, please enjoy! (c) 2015, C. Davidson, an author of Ayrelby.
    ====================================================================

    “Hi,” I trembled, looking for the right words. I had never, ever socialized before. “What’s your name?”

    The girl looked up with a big, toothy smile. “My name’s Eris Lakewater,” she explained. “But if you call me that you’ll be real sorry. What’s your name?

    I grinned sheepishly. “I’m Colby Darby,” I said rather quietly. “But I like it better when people call me Colby Reeves.”

    “How come?” the girl inquired, sipping from her box of white grape juice. She was tall, for a five-year-old, anyway, and she had really pretty red hair that dangled all the way down to her hips. She was wearing a dark green t-shirt under a baby blue denim jacket, and too-long black jeans cuffed over her purple converse sneakers, one of which was untied. I got distracted by all that. I was five too, and had little to no experience talking to girls. Or anyone for that matter. My mother had tried to homeschool us through preschool, but after she realized she couldn’t make it on her own she decided it’d be best to put us in at Ayrelby Small Fries for kindergarten. Do to this, and I’m not downing homeschooling or anything, the only girls I had access to talk to on a regular basis were my cousin, whom I called regularly as she lived in Chattanooga, and my sister, who, to my reckoning, was infested with a wide variety of cooties.

    “Hey, kid!” she said, flicking my arm to wake me up from the previously noted thought. “You were saying why you don’t like your name?”

    “Oh yeah, right,” I recalled. I leaned in toward her. “Can I tell you a secret?”

    “Sure,” she confirmed.

    “It’s because my daddy doesn’t love me and my sister anymore.” She looked shocked, as though she’d never known such horror as a father renouncing his claim on his children. My reckoning was that she hadn’t.

    “Why do you think that?” she said, trying to unravel the puzzling statement.

    “I heard him say it to my mommy on the phone one night. She didn’t know Katherine and me were awake. He said we could starve for all he cared.”

    I was expecting to be hugged or something at this point, as that’s what my cousin Vicky would do when she visited us and I told her about my parents’ dying relationship. But the girl didn’t hug me. She just pressed on with the questions. “Why do you think he said that?”

    “I don’t know,” I told her plainly. “It might have something to do with this restaurant he goes to all the time, where the people are always hooting like owls. My mommy said he spends all our extra money there, because they don’t have free refills.”

    “What kind of restaurant doesn’t have free refills?” she asked, almost mad, but not really.

    “I don’t know. But my mommy told him on the phone that night, when she thought me and Katherine were asleep, that we couldn’t afford for him to get so many drinks there all the time, and he said that she couldn’t tell him what to do, and that we could starve and that he wouldn’t care if we did.”

    She nodded in understanding, and sipped again from her box of Juicy Juice. She motioned for me to sit down at her coloring table in a blue plastic chair, and I did. She sat down, too. Her chair was green.

    “Well, Reeves,” she said, putting her empty juice box down on the table. “If he doesn’t care about you anymore, then don’t let it get to you. He’ll just be getting what he wants if he’s makin’ you feel bad about it. You gotta show him he can’t make you feel bad if you don’t want to.”

    Her advice seemed impressive for someone our age. “How old did you say you were?”

    “I’m five-and-a-half. Don’t worry, Colby Reeves, your secret is safe with me.”

    “Thanks, um…”

    “Oh right,” she said, mock-hitting her forehead. I found her forehead really pretty. I don’t have the slightest idea why, but I did. “I didn’t tell you my name!”

    “What is it?” I asked her.

    “Okay, well before I tell you you’re gonna need to know my story.”

    “Okay,” I said. I would have been annoyed but every word she uttered gripped me, even if she didn’t seem to be going anywhere with it yet. “What’s your story?”

    “Well, when I was one, my parents took me and my older sister Jenny to Australia on vacation. We took a boat to see the big reef thingy off the coast. It was really pretty. Jenny told me that I was looking at the reef when a shark came along and hit the boat, making me fall into the ocean. Jenny said that I was about to drown when some mermaids came and picked me up and gave me a necklace that turned my legs into mermaid legs and let me breathe underwater! Then they took me to their mermaid city under the reef that they called Atlantis, and the king and queen’s daughter—she was one of the mermaids who rescued me—took me in and made her parents adopt me. They made me a princess and called me by my first name, Eris, like everyone always had. I was four when I went to mermaid preschool and they taught me about their gods and stuff and I learned about who the real Eris was and so I started calling myself by my middle name instead, but no one else would do it too. Then one day I saw some human divers coming down and I recognized that one of them was my sister, Jenny, and so I swam over to them and Jenny realized it was me and she hugged me and I hugged her back and she took me back home to Florida.

    “When we got home, and I told her everything that’d happened since I could remember in whole stories, and I asked her if she’d call me by my middle name and she said yes and I asked her where mommy and daddy were and…” at which point she trailed off.

    “What?” I asked, having completely forgotten the initial point of the story having been to learn the girl’s name. I looked over to her—something had distracted me, I can’t remember what—and saw that the girl was crying. I walked over to her chair got down on one knee and started petting her shoulder, the denim of her jacket combining with her red hair to form the softest substance I had ever felt. I tried to get her to look up at me, but she kept her head slumped down. “What’s wrong?” I asked.

    “Jenny told me that my parents had gone missing while I was gone,” she said through the bursts of her tears. “She said that she’d looked all over and she couldn’t find them. She told me not, to worry, though, that she’d take care of me.

    “‘I’ll be your mommy and your daddy until we find them, May,’ she’d say.” The girl now had a name. “But…I don’t know if she ever will…”

    She started crying audibly, so I wrapped both my arms around her and held her there, shielding her. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but I just wanted to protect her from the whole world. She hugged me back really big. Not hard, but big.

    “It’s okay, May,” I told her, trying to calm her down. “You’ll find your mommy and daddy someday. I know you will. I promise.”

    “How do you know that, Colby?” she questioned, sniffing.

    “I don’t,” I said, but before she started crying again, I added, “But there are a lot of true things that nobody knows. They’re still true. Just wait and see, May.” I loosened my end of the hug so that I could look her in the eye. Her eyes were like little patches of grass in perfect circles. I saw the little black dots in her eyes grow a little bit. “I heard someone on TV say that everything always turns out okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”

    “Colby,” she said, finishing her tears with a sniffle. “Can you promise me something?”

    “What?” I asked my new friend.

    “Can you promise me that everything will be okay in the end, like you said? Can you promise that if it’s not okay, it won’t be the end?”

    I thought about it. Then I realized I didn’t need to think about it. I decided that I would make it true for her no matter what. “Yes, May,” I told her with a confident nod. “I promise. Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it won’t be the end.” I waited for her to smile before finishing, “You can bet on it.”

    • Savannah Destiney

      Nice work Colby….but there are some patches of contridictory i might say. In the first few sentences it says “My name is Eris Lakewater she explained”, but then you go on in detail about discovering her name. Also, five year olds can barely come up with sentences for each other let alone paragraphs. As for plot line and such, it is very good and has great potentional.

      • Colby Davidson

        Thank you! This is the first time my work has ever been reviewed ever! I love being part of a community!

        Anyway, when she tells 5-year-old me that her name is Eris, I’m trying to show that she takes things literally and with sarcasm. Like, her “name” technically is Eris Lakewater, but if you call her that you’ll be sorry. She’s a sarcastic person who likes to play on words is what I’m trying to say. Later on she explains what her name is in the sense of what she calls herself and wants to be called, like Ender’s real name was Andrew Wiggin, but his name in the sense of what he calls himself and wants you to call him is Ender Wiggin.
        Also, I really tried to make the sentences either really choppy or run-on, like how a five-year-old would talk, but the narration is normal me-voice. This is supposed to be an epilogue to a story about me and May being seventeen, and the whole rest of it is narrated by regular adolescent me, so I just toned down the narration a little bit to make it fit here, but not too much.

        Again, thank you so, so much for your constructive critique! This is, as I said, definitely a first draft, but everyday I fail I get stronger at writing, and so does everyone! And if you wrote something, I’ll be sure to review it too!

        Sincerely yours,
        C. Davidson

  • I’ve been having the same trouble with my novel. I’m grateful to you for discussing this topic! <3

    The world spun, and I along with it. My body slumped into my chair. Like a sack of potatoes. My body quivered, unable to move, unable to act. I was dying. I know I wasn’t. Closing my eyes. I waited. And I waited. I wanted to cry, scream, shout. Anything to be rid of this. But I didn’t. I couldn’t. All I could do was just hang in there, until it ended. Like on a rollercoaster. Without all the anderline and relishing energy rush.

    It didn’t end. Was I finally dying? I didn't want to.

    I needed to go home. I’d left my medicine there. I needed to go.

    If I died, what would happen to my house? I hadn’t written a will yet. Whatever. James could have it. He didn't deserve it. Not really. Not at all.

    I know I wouldn’t be thinking this. Not if I was ok. But I wasn’t. I was dying.

    I tried to think about who’d miss me. No one.

    What would I miss? Nothing. Nothing came to mind.

    I wanted to laugh. What a wasteful life. Pathetic.