Advantages of first person storytelling: Hidden agendas

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Continuing with the art of storytelling, a writer must know available storytelling tools in order to bring their characters and plot to life. One way to do this is either to tell it in first or third person point of view. To view some advantages of third person point of view, click here.

What is first person point of view exactly?

According to About.com,

“First person point of view is a point of view in which an “I” or “we” serves as the narrator of a piece of fiction. The narrator may be a minor character, observing the action, as the character Nick does in The Great Gatsby, or the main protagonist of the story, such as Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. In addition, a first-person narrator may be reliable or unreliable.”

Given this statement let’s take it apart to see what happens when a person uses “I” or “We”

  1. As the reader, we are officially inside the character’s mind. Their joys, their hurts, their complexities and it feels like you are on the ride along with them. A couple of books which come to my mind are Dark Fever and The Last Vampire Series(which I will discuss later)
  2. The narrator may not be the major character in a story either, they could be minor as in the The Great Gatsby example above. In that case, we as the reader are observing potent and important events from an observer’s limited point of view.
  3. Reading from the narator’s perspective may be unreliable. They have the ability to hide information from us, or worse…get us to sympathize with them subtlely.

In The Fever Series by Karen Marie Moning(which is an awesome five book series by the way) Mackayla Lane’s sister Alina left a cryptic message on her cell and Mac finds out that her sister died soon after leaving that message and so begins the travel to Dublin, Ireland where Mac meets Barrons, an elusive , handsome man and bookseller and a host of other interesting monsters and people. Mac eventually learns more about herself in later books.

What I enjoyed about Mac’s story is that her encounters were countered with her not knowing very much about herself or Barrons. We feel her angst and illness every time she encounters dark foe. If this story was told in third person, there probably would be less suspense given that Mac doesn’t know everything about everyone.

The Last Vampire by Christopher Pike,features Sita,  a five thousand year old vampire who tells her side of the story so we get her history, feel her rage when she gets arrested and needs to escape and she has a habit of doing the right thing while killing people in the worst way( but hey, they deserved it…?)

I noticed while reading Sita’s story that I became more sympathetic towards her because she lost a family many, many, many years ago and in the final installment I think I shed a tear for her.

If this story was told in third person or from a minor character’s point of view, I doubt I would have seen Sita in a good light at all. Just a thought.

Want to really practice writing in 1st Person POV? Read First Person Point of View on The Writer’s Craft

Or my personal favorite: Begin to practice by creating really short stories, doing fanfiction, or journaling in the first person point of view.

Did this help? Do you have other ideas and examples? Share them here!

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2 thoughts on “Advantages of first person storytelling: Hidden agendas

  1. I like this topic! I appreciate Siri Mitchell’s use of the first person in some of her novels. And a really interesting use of the first person occurs in Katie Ganshert’s debut novel, which I just read for endorsement and which will be coming out this May. She switches back and forth between third and first: very difficult to pull off, but she does it very well.

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