How to Effectively Write in the 1st Person

Writing in the 1st Person

Writing in the 1st Person

Hi welcome to this video lesson on first person storytelling. When a story is being told from the first-person perspective, it usually is being told from the perspective of the narrator who is often the main character or the protagonist. Also, we use pronouns such as I, me, we, etc.

Things that refer to the first person. Lastly, a first-person perspective often is more narrow. It’s not as broad a scope of a story that’s being told either. It has something to do with just the main character or it’s being told from main characters bias.

Regardless, the author might use first person perspective because it’s a very intimate way of telling a story. You feel closer to the main character, the protagonist. You get to know their thoughts, you become familiar with their character more than anyone else in the book. Let’s take a look at a few examples, shall we?

A Princess of Mars by John Carter. “I am a very old man; how old I do not know. Possibly I am 100, possibly more; but I cannot tell because I’ve never aged as other men, nor do I remember any childhood. So far as I can recollect, I have always been a man, a man of about thirty. I appear today as I did 40 years and more ago, and yet I feel that I cannot go on living forever; that someday I shall die the real death from which there is no resurrection. I do not know why I should fear death, I who have died twice and yet still alive; but yet I have the same horror of it as you who have never died, and it is because of this terror of death, I believe, that I am so convinced of my mortality.”

Do you see how were experiencing the story as John Carter? Authors did this frequently in mystery novels, or movies with narrators, because it forces us -the audience- to take a perspective of a character within the story.

Authors also do this a lot in mystery novels when they want to keep you in the dark longer, because you never know more than the character whose giving you their firsthand account. If a writer wants a reader to understand the motivations of multiple characters within the story, then they’ll often use the style of third person omniscient narrative. This style reveals everything to the reader and it often comes with multiple insights into different characters minds. Let’s see an example of this, shall we?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. “Not all that Mrs. Bennet, however, with the assistance of her five daughters, could ask on the subject, was sufficient to draw from her husband any satisfactory description of Mr. Bingley. They attacked him in various ways -with bare faced questions, ingenious suppositions, and distant surmises; but he eluded the skill of them all, and they were at last obliged to accept the second-hand intelligence of their neighbor, Lady Lucas. Her report was highly favorable. Sir William had been delighted with him. He was quite young, wonderfully handsome, and extremely agreeable, and, to crown the whole, he meant to be at the next assembly with a large party. Nothing could be more delightful! To be fond of dancing was certain step toward falling in love; and very lively hopes of Mr. Bingley’s heart were entertained.”

You see how we weren’t placed into the shoes of one specific character? Instead we’re given an overview of the entire situation and shown how all the other characters interacted, but not brought into the conversation ourselves which is what the first persons thought would have done. I hope that helps. Thanks for watching this video lesson, and until next time, happy studying!

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by Mometrix Test Preparation | Last Updated: October 24, 2019