Thursday Thoughts: Writing in First-Person

Hey! This was a big week for my blog. I passed 2,000 hits, accumulated over 615 followers, and Albert Whitman and Company gave me access to an advanced copy of Being Henry David by Cal Armistead. All very exciting.

This week marks the beginning of NaNoWriMo, where people set out to write a 50,000 word book in one month. Because I’m a sucker, this morning at 12:01 am, I popped open a fresh Word document and thought I’d give it a shot. As a disclaimer, I am not an author to any degree. I have never tried to write a book, and my meager attempts at creative writing consist of four or five embarrassing short stories. That being said, two pages in, I realized I had written the whole thing in first-person, which prompted an internal debate about how I should write my fated NaNoWriMo book.

I’ve always considered writing a book in first-person as a sort of cop-out, basically because it is easier to do. At least in my opinion it is. Writing in third-person trips me up and I get confused with word order and grammar and tenses. So every time I write, I go for first-person, which causes self-pity and hatred and way too much cookie consumption.

But last night as I read over my first 400 words, I thought that maybe first-person offers an emotional connection that third-person can’t. Like, I had written two pages, and already my character had a sort of emotional revelation (please, take this lightly. She didn’t discover God or anything). So maybe, being so close to a character that you are the character isn’t always a the easy route for writers. Maybe it’s just a closer route for readers.

However, I do have one big problem with first-person narratives. It can be extremely difficult to draw the line where you end and your characters begin. It’s good to have some overlap, seeing an author in his/her characters is definitely a thing I look for. But you don’t want to end up writing your autobiography, you know? So find the line, and cross it only when it adds to the story. NOT EASY.

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3 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts: Writing in First-Person

  1. Sarah says:

    The last point you make here is really interesting, it’s the problem I’m having with my NaNo – it’s hard not to sound like ‘me’ at times! I actually find writing in first person harder than third, I’ve never done it properly before so giving it a go with NaNo as a sort of ‘mini challenge’ within the challenge of 50,000 words!

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