Working in First Person

Last week, I read Catch Me If You Can by LB Gregg, written in first person. You can read my review of it here.I spent the entire day reading instead of writing. I felt a little guilty that I didn’t even type a single word. But I have to admit, reading it was extremely productive.

One of the pieces of advice new writers receive is to read, read, read. It’s absolutely true. I’ve been working on a novel in first person narrative lately, and honestly it’s fallen kind of flat. The storyline, I love. The direction it’s going is wonderful. But honestly, the reading isn’t as lively as I’d like. I even have parts in it that I know I need to cut (entire scenes). It just wasn’t doing it for me.

Then I picked up Catch Me If You Can and another novel Somebody Killed His Editor by Josh Lanyon, both written in first person. I immediately knew what my narrative missed…internal dialogue. Now I’m not an expert, so take this for what it is. I think internal dialogue is one of the benefits of writing in first person.

With third person it’s show, show, show. If your character feels a certain way, show it–let the dialogue and actions speak for themselves. With first person, I think it’s okay to tell a little. Now when I say tell, I don’t mean tell the whole story, I meant tell what your character is thinking, but in a showy type of way. I’d been so stuck on just showing, I missed the internal dialogue…how does my character feel about the situation regardless of the emotions she’s trying to portray.

To me, third person is transparent, or it should be. The characters wear their thoughts and emotions on their sleeves, even if the hints are just hints. First person is more personal. Sure you see the transparency of the minor characters, but you also get an internal perspective of the main character. I need to concentrate on writing again. But before I edit the novel, I’m certain to read another first person novel as a reminder.

0 thoughts on “Working in First Person

  1. Good for you to find time to read. That’s one of my weaknesses and a goal for the next month. I love writing in first person. I come to feel a special connection to that character, sharing their thoughts.


  2. Good for you to make time to read. I need to do more and that’s one of my goals for the next month. I love writing in first person. I come to really know that character, sharing their thoughts.


  3. My reading list has piled to an unreasonable level. After seeing the benefit of reading Catch Me If You Can, I’ve made it a personal goal to read one novel a week. Maybe I can whittle down that list. 🙂

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