A significant percentage of books and stories are written in third-person. The third person perspective allows the author or writer to look inside the characters and give as much information about them as possible, such as their thoughts, feelings and motivation. The author knows when one character is deceiving another or when there is an occurrence beyond the sphere of knowledge of the characters. Third person perspective is a powerful position that allows many elements of a story to be woven together in a seamless manner into a perfect piece of literature.
However, there is another perspective that can be used to write a compelling story, the first person perspective.
In this case, the author and the reader can see the world through the eyes of the one narrating the book. It is a compelling way of telling a story in the sense that the reader can discover things at the same time with the character, which can make them feel as if they are indeed going through similar events. Although first person narratives seem to be rare in most genres, the best post-apocalyptic stories use first person perspective to narrate events.
In case you are used to writing narratives in third person perspective, you might find it difficult to shift gears to first person point of view. You have to be extremely careful about how you tell the story or reveal information. How then do you ensure you write the best first person narrative?
Below are a few tips for writing a first person narrative you can start employing today.
1. Always Keep it Simple and Clear
Keep your narrative simple by avoiding too many multi-faceted elements. Keep in mind that explanations of complicated back stories are best done through speech, but making the speech complicated will interrupt the overall flow of the main story.
2. Keep the Cast of Characters Small
Each time you introduce a new character, make sure you explain where they are from and who they are. This can become tedious for the reader if you keep introducing new characters in your narrative. Furthermore, introducing new characters too many times slows down the narration of the most important events.
3. The Narrator Should Be In Every Scene
Considering the fact that the narrator isn’t a mind-reader, the only way he/she can know what someone is thinking is by telling them. The same applies to the events that happen out of the narrator’s sight where someone must narrate to them what happened. For this to be possible, the narrator should be in every scene. However, you can have scenes within scenes whereby another character explains or describes to the narrator what actually happened.
4. Always Keep Your Story in Active Voice
Sometimes it is hard to keep the flame burning in first person narratives because it is very easy to get tempted into using passive language. Passive language is rarely a gripping writing style. It is like giving someone your diary to read as a way of keeping him or her entertained. That can’t work at all. Therefore, always keep your story in an active voice, and the best way of doing this is by using speech. Make the speech short, interactive and captivating.
5. Use Different Styles to Reveal Emotions
Always use different styles to reveal how a narrator is feeling. Using the same method all the time makes the narrative boring and monotonous. For instance, if you use the term “I felt…..” every time you describe feelings or emotions (e.g. I felt frustrated, I felt sad, I felt disillusioned), it renders your story monotonous.
Alternatively, vary the way you reveal the narrator’s inner emotions. For instance, you can say “In choked desolation, I walked through the ruins without even the slightest hope of sighting any valuable remains”.
Although writing a first person narrative can be a real challenge, I hope you find these tips for writing a first person narrative useful. If you have never written a first person narrative before, take your time to read more first-person narratives to see and learn how advanced authors manage to weave a perfect piece of narrative using the tips highlighted above.