Saturday, March 29, 2014

5 Ways to Improve Your First Person Point of View

First person point of view is an easy way to start as a first-time author, yet it also has its limitations. First person POV imprisons both the author and reader into the mind of one character. Also, writing in first person can cause the author to more easily lose sight of the golden rule "show rather than tell," and you must always keep in mind what the protagonist's voice is and what he/she would do in given situations.

How can you improve your story and overcome these obstacles?

For example, how can Bob, having no paranormal abilities or mind-reading skills, know what takes place in Kim's mind, living on the other side of the world?

There's several things you, as the author, can do to spice up your narrative when using the first person. Here are a few laid out for you:

1. Time slips

Introducing something that will come later or thinking back to something that happened earlier can 
change a monotonous block of text into an interesting roller coaster ride.

Example: I met the mysterious boy and was immediately attracted to him. I fell head-over-heals in love with him, the consequences of which became evident only several weeks later.

The narrator thus shares something the protagonist could not have known at the time, yet it does spice up the scene and introduce a sort of cliff hanger. The POV stays with the first person.

2. Speculation

In the first person point of view it is impossible to get in a character's head that is not the narrator. Yet the narrator can still speculate and imagine what might be going on somewhere else or in another character's head.

Example: Over-the-top in love with this mysterious boy, I often found myself wondering what he was doing when I wasn't with him. As it was a saturday morning and only 9 o'clock, I imagined he'd still be in bed, wrapped in his blanket of cotton that stroked his pale and smooth skin. I blushed.

In this way, though "imprisoned" in the first person, the narrator can still put him/herself in other characters situations locations and minds.

3. Visions

If you have read or watched Harry Potter, you may know that Harry Potter finds out things of others through visions he gets. Likewise, your first person narrator could have a dream or vision of either something that will happen in the future or something someone else is experiencing. This could be either because they are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or a traumatic experience or high fever could have evoked the image. Either way, the reader learns more and gets to know more about what happens outside of the narrator's life, which might pique their interest.

Example: He floated towards me and told me he loved me too. I leaned in to kiss him when a knocking on the door frightened me from my beautiful dream. I tiptoed into the hallway and looked out the small window. It was him.

4. Recreating a scene.

There are numerous reasons for a character to recreate a scene they were not physically present in. Maybe they are trying to solve mystery, or maybe they are trying to put themselves in someone else's shoes. Either way, it can morph their perspective and possibly give the reader a sneak peek in other character's heads.

Example: He was killed in this very location, and the idea made me shutter. He must have entered through this same door, have this same breeze ruffle his brown curls, before the killer approached from
behind and forced the knife into his innocent body.

5. Body language.

You can't get into the character's head, but hey, so what? Body language can easily speak a character's thoughts if done correctly. No need for a shift of POV.

Example: "You lied to me and you know it." I looked right at him, yet his eyes were focussed on the floor. He dared not cast up his gaze, and his foot tapped the tiled floor nervously.

6. Dialogue.

Let other characters simply speak their mind. You don't need to be in their head to know what they think. They can honestly open up their hearts; even vague hints can be picked up by the attentive reader.

Example: "I know I lied," he whispered. "And I'm sorry. It just so happened that..."

In these ways you can share other character's ideas and experiences without having to shift viewpoint. Shifting POV can be merely confusing and detracting from the story. Do you have any other ideas (or experiences) regarding POV? Share them below! Also, if you liked this post, please share it with your friends :)

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