First Person Stories
important is whether they’re going to use first or third person for their narrative. This is an important decision, one not to be taken lightly.
When I started writing, all the experts warned me away from first person stories. They’re limited I was told. You won’t be able to get the same richness as a third person story. And the one I love best, you can’t use multiple viewpoints in first person.
Thus, the decision should always be third person, according to those experts. So, I followed the advice and worked with third person. I immediately noticed something about my young adult books. There was an important element missing. They were flat. The characters didn’t engage the reader.
What to do? How to improve these books, all with a great story to tell?
While reworking Softly Say Goodbye for the umpteenth time, I made a decision. Writing has rules. Some are hard and fast, particularly those about grammar and spelling, but others are more flexible. What if the decision between first and third person was one of those flexible rules.
That’s when the transition began. I moved into first person stories for my teen novels. And the flat characters came to life. They owned the story. Their emotions were right in the forefront for the reader to see and feel. These fictional teens became real people.
One thing a writer must always remember is that we must be flexible in our work. There is a place for a first person story. You can do multiple viewpoints in first person, as long as the reader knows which character is in charge at the moment.
Another thing the writer must remember is that unless carefully worded, first person can become preachy. That’s something you don’t want to happen. It is more difficult to write this way, but the rewards are well worth the effort.