Writing in the first person can be a fun challenge, allowing you to explore the point of view of the first person on the page. You can write a short story, a novel, or an opinion piece. Creating an effective first-person narrative requires talent and perseverance. Plus, it also requires a thorough wording review when you're done.
Method 1 of 4: Pick a Tense for First Person Narrative
Step 1. Use the present tense to progress the story
The first person point of view has two distinct tenses, the present tense and the past tense. The present tense "first person" focuses on the narrator's actions and thoughts as they unfold in the present. It can be a good way to move the story forward, taking the reader through the narrative as events and moments unfold.
For example, a first person and present tense narrator would be something like “I open the window and yell at him to leave me alone. I close the window and try to focus on the latest soap opera. "
Step 2. Use the past tense to explore a character's past
Past tense is a good option if you are writing a story that explores the protagonist or narrator's past. It is more popular than the present tense and is usually easier to carry out. Writing in the past tense can make the story seem like it is being told rather than happening in the present moment.
For example, a first person and past tense narrator would be something like “I opened the window and yelled at him to leave me alone. I closed the window and tried to focus on the latest soap opera. "
Step 3. Opt for the present tense when talking about work
In most cases, the first-person point of view is not recommended for an academic essay. However, your instructor may allow you to use the first person when discussing a literature or academic assignment. Use the present tense to give the discussion immediacy and an intimate tone.
If you use the APA style, you can use the first-person point of view to discuss the investigation steps in a research paper. For example, you can write "I studied sample A" or "I interviewed person B". In general, you should avoid the first person point of view and use it sparingly in your research work
Method 2 of 4: Use the first person to develop character
Step 1. Give the narrator a different voice
First-person narrators often have a particular way of seeing the world, which is based on their background. Give the first-person narrator a narrative voice that is distinct and quirky. Take into account the age, class, and background of the narrator. Use these elements to create the voice of the first person narrator.
For example, if the narrator is a Latino teenager living in the Bronx, they will have a different narrative voice that can use Spanish phrases and adolescent slang, as well as standard English
Step 2. Filter the actions of the story through the narrator
With a first-person narrator, you can make the reader see the world of the story through their perspective. This means describing scenes, other characters, and other settings from the narrator's point of view. Try to filter all the action in the story through the first-person narrator so that the reader gets a sense of your point of view.
For example, instead of saying “I couldn't believe what I was seeing. A killer spider crawled up to me and I thought, I'm dead,”focus on describing the action directly from the narrator's point of view. You can write “I couldn't believe what I was seeing. A killer spider crawled towards me. I'm dead"
Step 3. Use the “first person” to keep the pace and the action in progress constantly
Don't let the first-person narrator get bogged down in background or long descriptions, especially if you're writing in the present tense. Keep the rhythm and action of the story in progress constantly. Focus on keeping the narrator in the action in every scene.
For example, instead of writing “I tried to talk to Sara about how I feel, but she didn't want to hear what I had to say,” you can put this content into a scene with dialogue and action. Instead, you can write, “I asked her, Sara, why don't you want to talk to me? He was determined to get her to listen to what he had to say. "
Step 4. Read examples of first-person narratives
To get a better idea of the first-person point of view, read examples from this perspective in literature. Look up examples in the present and past tense so you can see how other writers use it in their works. There are several well-known examples of the first-person point of view in writing. The following are some:
- To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
- Herman Melville's Moby Dick
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Lucy from Jamaica Kincaid
- Killing an elephant an essay by George Orwell
- The Death of the Moth an Essay by Virginia Woolf
Method 3 of 4: Avoid First Person Problems
Step 1. Don't start every sentence with the word "I"
Although you write from a "first person" perspective, you should not start every sentence with the word "I". This can make the narrative seem repetitive and forced. Try to vary the sentences so you don't start with the word "I" in each sentence or have an "I" in sentence after sentence.
For example, instead of having two sentences like “I ran down the stairs, my heart was pounding. I could hear the killer spider slithering on the wall behind me”, you can write“I ran down the stairs, my heart was pounding. Behind me, the killer spider slid into the wall. "
Step 2. Don't report the action using the word "I"
Let the first-person narrator describe a scene or moment from their point of view. Don't use the passive voice to describe a scene or moment through the first person narrator. This can make the narrative sound like a report or summary of events, rather than letting the reader experience events as they unfold.
- For example, instead of writing “I ran into Maria and she told me that she left her homework at home. I felt bad for her and told her not to worry”, you can place the reader in a scene.
- You can write “When I turned the corner of the gym, I ran into Maria. I forgot my homework, he said. I put my hand on her shoulder and tried to comfort her. Don't worry, I told him.
Step 3. Try not to put distance between the reader and the “first person”
Using "thought", "saw", or "felt" in the narrative can put distance between the reader and the first person perspective. Avoid using these examples when writing in the first person, as they can weaken the narrative.
- For example, instead of writing "I felt sad to lose her as a friend", you can write "The sadness saturated my body as I realized that I lost her as a friend."
- Often times, you can simply remove "thought" or "saw" in a sentence to reinforce the first person point of view. For example, instead of writing, “I ran into her in the hallway and almost stopped to talk to her. Then, I thought, why bother, he is going to reject me anyway”, delete“I thought”and reinforce the action in prayer.
- You can write, “I ran into her in the hall and almost stopped to talk to her; But I kept walking Why bother, she was going to reject me anyway. "
Method 4 of 4: Polish the First Person Narrative
Step 1. Read the work out loud
When you have finished the outline of the first-person story, read it out loud. Hear how each sentence sounds in the narrative. See if you repeat the word "I" very often or in every sentence. Pay attention to the voice of the first person narrator and see if it seems consistent throughout the work.
You should also pay attention to the time of the story. Make sure the story doesn't change from the present to the past or vice versa. It must stay at the same time at all times
Step 2. Reinforce word choice and language
As you polish and review the story, make sure your choice of words and language are effective. Look for any words that you can replace with more unique terms. Cross out any language that doesn't seem as clear or concise as it might be. Make sure the word choice and language match the first-person narrator of the story.
Step 3. Show the work to other people
You should show the sketch to other people and ask for their opinion. Ask friends and colleagues to read the narrative in the first person. Let them tell you their opinion and apply their criticism to the story to make it stronger.