First Person Point of View

Viewpoint or Point of View (POV) is critical to your story. The Point of View allows the reader to experience someone else’s (your’s or the character’s) view of the world.

 Before looking at the viewpoints let me give you another related principle: Make sure your reader knows when the character is thinking and when he is speaking. And try to avoid “he thought” or “she thought.”

 We are going to take a look at 1st Person.

 This is essentially “I”, “Me”, “Mine”. The POV is from the speaker. He/She tells the story from His/Her perspective. Personally, I don’t like this POV but I have read some excellent books using that technique.

 There are a few advantages to this viewpoint, such as:

  • Instant involvement

Because the reader is inside the character’s head all thoughts and actions are immediately known. There is no delay.

  • Language

Because the reader is inside the head and knows the thoughts of the character the reader is able to instantly know the education, and class of the character.

  • Range

How the character thinks. The reader learns a great deal about the character because every facet of his/her thinking is open to the reader.

 But there are also disadvantages; such as

  • it requires the presence of the character in virtually all scenes.

  • the character can’t keep secrets from the reader. If the character knows something, we do also.

  • you cannot include any information that the character doesn’t know. In other words, you know what the character knows. No more and no less.

  • The “I” becomes both you and the character. This can be troubling.

  • limited view. Since you only know what the character knows there is a whole world of unknowns.

First Person, in my opinion, is harder to write and to pull off. Some authors do and succeed quite well. I have read some excellent first person narratives. A recent example is The Knight by Steven James.

This is an excellent book that kept me on the edge of my seat throughout. The author wrote the book in first person, so I knew everything the hero (Patrick Bowers) knew. But the author threw some third person events into the fray as well. Thus, in chapters involving the hero I knew what he knew, but in other scenes I saw more and knew more. Even so, the author kept me wondering who the villain was until almost the end of the book.

That’s quite an accomplishment for any writer. I’ve read quite a lot of books and consider myself pretty good at figuring out the villian. But by deftly mixing the first person accounts and third person accounts the author kept me from guessing the outcome.

So if you are good at the craft you can write an entertaining novel in the first person. But be forewarned: it can be unwieldy. Therefore, unless you have a great deal of experience in writing, I would recommend you stay away from it.


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R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.