My current WIP is unlike anything I’ve ever written before. Sure, it has a different pace and looks at different themes than I've covered in the past, but the biggest difference is definitely my use of first-person.
I’ve haven’t used first-person in a long time, and I’ve never written anything more than short stories in the style, so this novel’s been quite an adventure (and I mean that in a good way)! I’ve had lots of fun writing it, but I’ve been asking myself lately: would I use the style again?
Herere some of the things I’ve discovered. If you’re planning a first-person novel, take note.
First-person is a lot more personal. I’ve connected better with my current protag than I have with other main characters in the past, and I think it comes down to the first-person POV. I (and the reader) get to experience his thoughts and emotions first hand, as opposed to the being told through an omnipresent POV or even a closed-third person POV. I’ve really enjoyed writing in this new style.
I also like being able to show some bias to other characters. Everything the reader sees is filtered through my protag, who isn’t always objective. I think seeing through this bias and unreliability is something that could give readers something to look for and examine during re-reads.
First-person can be limiting. I suppose this negative only applies to certain novels. I’ve found that using a first-person style limits what I can and can’t show in the novel, and I can’t resort to having my protag meet with someone who can fill him in because it’s a geographically diverse book with lots happening across the globe. Because of this, I’ve found it necessary to introduce more POV characters, but this leads me to my second point…
It’s hard to introduce more POV characters. (Correct me if I’m wrong, but) most first-person novels generally only have one POV character. Beth Revis’ Across the Universe trilogy is the one exception I’ve come across. There are two first-person POV characters, and they have alternating chapters. But what if you need more than two POV characters? Three? Four? Five??
As I said before, my novel has important things happening across the globe, and I’d love to be able to explore these events through a few different POV characters. My problem is that I’m not sure what person to use – first or third? Having four first-person POV characters would quickly become confusing, and I’d be worried about having a few characters sounding stilted as I tried to differentiate their voice, but have one first-person character and the rest written in third-person would look strange. I’ve decided to opt for just one additional POV character with only a handful of chapters, written in third-person. This character will solve a lot of my problems, but still limits my ability to explore other events.
Over to you now. Have you ever written in a first-person POV before? How did you find it? Would you use it again? Let me know in the comments section!