Many first-time writers choose first person to tell their story because it looks easy and natural. However, it’s not always the best choice.
A first person narrative can only tell the reader what the narrator knows. It limits the amount and type of information we as writers can deliver.
This natural limitation makes first person very useful for some kinds of fiction such as puzzle stories (e.g. police procedurals), experiential discovery fiction (young adult novels, romance, coming out tales), and stories dependent upon sudden reversals (tales of sociopathy, madness, and the supernatural). It’s a real obstacle to the kind of fiction–sweeping historical epics, say, or aftermath stories (e.g. what happens in a small town after a big accident)–which relies on a light touch with a large cast.
Wednesday, September 9, 2009
Thoughts on point of view
Figuring out which point of view to use for your story? Sterling Editing has a nice piece on strengths and weaknesses of a first-person POV.