What Are the Disadvantages and Advantages of Writing a Novel in First Person?

A novel written in first person is a first-hand account of events told or narrated through the eyes of a single character, typically the main character. Books written in first person are easily identified by the use of the pronoun “I” rather then “he or she.”

In my opinion a first person writing a novel can be effective on depending what kind of story it is, it allows the readers to sympathise with the feelings and thoughts of the character and see their view of perspective on life in the story, although first person doesn’t directly tell the readers what the other people are feeling except through making them do certain actions that the character speaking will interpret later on.

The reader will see phrases such as “I said, I thought,” rather than “he said, she thought.” Everything is experienced through the eyes of a single character, and all thoughts and observations are limited to that one person. There can be no outside observer. If the narrator does not see or experience an event first-hand, it cannot be a part of the story. All scenes in the story are filtered through this person’s unique perception.

One of the advantages of first person makes the narrator close up and personal. The reader can identify with the character and experience their deepest, innermost thoughts and feelings. While third person and omniscient points of view distance the reader, first person allows the reader to enter the world of the narrator, privy to his personal thoughts and feelings.

One of the disadvantages when writing in first person, the author is restricted to a single point of view. First person is the narrowest, most restrictive point of view because everything is seen and processed through the mind of the narrator.

Some authors find first person a natural choice, while others find it too limiting to stick with one character’s viewpoint through an entire book. Some find writing in first person as easy and comfortable as writing in a personal journal, others find it awkward and restrictive.

Another advantage of writing in first person is it gives a more personal feeling and gives it a sense of directness that is missing in other narrative styles.

You can get away with a lot while writing in the first person that wouldn’t be possible in any other style. Mistakes are more acceptable, or variations of writing especially if you were writing the diary of a young teen with dyslexia for example.

It is far easier to inject personality and emotion through the first person style, since you are writing as that person unless you happen to be writing as an emotionless psychopath, which probably wouldn’t be a good idea not if you want anyone to empathise with them.

It is more acceptable to write the thoughts of your character since you are them. This can be harder to do in third person; it might even make your writing lose its flow. You can weave flashbacks and memories and thought waves into your writing, in a more natural way.

As such it can be easier to develop a character this way and really get to know them (more personal) – as opposed to third person writing where you can easily be more detached. This can be useful in long and short stories. Mentioning short stories, using the first person in one of these can give it a more emotional and intense burst than third person would.

As the narrator you not only can tell a story and reveal emotions and the like but you can also lie directly. This can work its way into an extremely interesting story line, and an exciting character. This can produce amazing effects, especially when the lie is ridiculously obvious – adding much colour to a story.

This style is an immediate one, giving us a first-hand experience of the events. We are lead to believe these events since we only have that person to base our understanding on, rather than a multitude of characters. This makes the story more focuses, since it is from one direct point of view.

It is often perceived as harder to write in the first person than the third, and gives the perspecticive on one characters view of the world. As said before you are not all knowing and can’t delve into other characters minds that is unless you’re writing as more than one person. This means there is little room to see another characters perspective. And this can lead to bias and an unreliable account.

One of the issues of writing in the first person is that “I” is used too much, and this lack of variation can make a piece feel over-bearing and dry and a picture not painted properly.

Due to the limited perspective the narrator is only able to say things they see, and hear. They can’t know anything for certain except what they see first hand, so the character must take an active part in the story if they are to be a reliable narrator.

Possibly one of the most important disadvantages of writing in first person is that it depends on the narrators/characters ability to speak and/or write.

Lastly because of the narrow view, and being unable to see other characters minds and reactions they can never find out how other people really view the narrator. They have only the narrators word and they could well be lying.

Writing in first person is good when you want to leave your readers in the dark, providing tension because this limits their point of view, which is a good source of not really knowing what might happen next.

Inner voice Point of View reader knows exactly what the main character thinks, sees, feels, and hears – all the senses and thoughts of the body and mind of the main character through this POV.

However writing in first person provides Such a limited POV doesn’t allow the writer to ‘flesh out’ any other characters beyond what the ‘I’ sees or thinks of others.

Also the Motive is limited to the ‘I’ and there are no real motives stated for anyone else, except what is expressed and/or thought by the ‘I’ character, which is (or should be) somewhat suspect: the ‘I’ could be wrong and fooled.

Another disadvantage is nothing happens beyond what the character chosen for this POV is aware of or learns about.

Some people prefer to read novels in third person because it allows them to read in an omniscient mood, it is also a good way to show conflict, conflict is the main bulk of the story when the POV lets the writer show even slight but meaningful differences with more ease.

There are more choices and less restrictions writing in third person rather than first person because the choices are so increased in action and reaction.

Some people believe first point of view is certainly the most natural voice to use.

I believe that it is the naturalness of writing in the first person point of view that accounts for the fact that most first-time novelists choose it.

I believe writing in first person allows the reader to go into the characters mind and see the characters point of view, which can be bad or good depending on the characters intentions are bad or good.

When the first person narrates the story the readers I think feel more personally connected with the character because they are telling the story to the readers as if they were their friends or treating them as witnesses particularly in scenes of conflict, drama or crime.

However if you want to make the readers feel more detached to their characters writing in third person is better than first person, then they will read without feeling anything for the characters and gives them less of an identity.

Like the omniscient and first person narrators, the third-person-limited narrator allows the reader access to the thoughts of the main character. Unlike the omniscient narrator, however, the third-person-limited narrator can only relay one character’s perspective to the reader. In this way the third-person-limited narrator is like the first-person narrator: The viewpoint recreates how an individual experiences the world.

For me personally I like reading novels with a first person Point Of View, for example I read three of Stephanie Meyer’s best vampire teen thriller novels, Twilight, New Moon, the Eclipse and have yet to read Breaking Dawn, they all have the first person Point of View, Stephanie Meyers makes the character Bella really engage the readers by expressing her deepest thoughts, feelings in an intense dramatic way which makes the readers not want to put the book down.

I also like reading in a third person POV in some novels like romantic comedies, thrillers, etc. but reading in a first person POV attaches me more to the character and gives the character more self-respect I think than the author narrating in third person.

Observing the character by following them through a first person POV journey is more special than reading a novel in third person POV, although it maybe restrictive, reading through a first person’s POV can create another world or state of mind for the reader to explore in.

Overall there are many advantages and disadvantages of reading in a first person POV but at the end of the day it is up to the reader which POV they prefer, whether It is first person POV, omniscient POV or third person POV, It is still a Point Of View which they enjoy to read, it also depends on the kind of novel it is, different POVS can be portrayed depending on the narrative or the theme of the novel for example if it is a novel about a group of young teens who go on a journey, this maybe written by the author’s POV in third person, or if the novel is about one main character and their friends, the author may write in the first person POV, making the character the narrator. So I think it depends on the individual reader which Point Of View they prefer to read in.

Source by Neelam Shah

About sima alaka

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