First person narrative questions come up all the time.
“What are your tips for writing an engaging first person narrative?”
I love first person narrative. Yes, it sucks me in, especially if it is present tense. But past tense works as well. One thing I’m going to tell you is – do it right!
When you dive into first person POV, remember it’s all about “me”. In other words, the narrator tells the story. The reason I like present tense is little things become big in the eyes of the character. You can fixate them on some things and totally ignore others, like seeing something out of the corner of the eye but turning away. It is the best way to bring the world you create to life for the reader.
There are many books out there that use first person. One that sticks out in my mind as a favourite is Heinlein’s “Friday”. The whole story is told in the point of view of a genetically engineered woman. It is better than “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and any other’s he wrote (yes, I love the classics).
I first suggest that you read a lot of first person POV and decide which way you would like to write. Is present tense something you can bite into or is past tense the one that works? It is up to you.
A few suggestions are:
1 – Remember to kill as many of the “I” statements as possible
2 – The narrator will not know what others are thinking (unless they read minds)
3 – Watch the POV!
4 – Don’t reveal things until they happen (it’s called forecasting and it kills a story)
5 – Love your characters, but you can kill them – Really, kill them
6 – Cut, cut, and cut some more
7 – Editing is your friend!
A writing friend of mine hates first person. Don’t know why and she never really says why. Could be she has a hard time putting herself in the shoes of a character. Just remember, everyone has a favourite point of view.
And here is a fun video about it!