Writing in First Person

Some authors find it easy to write in third person, but challenging to write in first.  Using “I” feels autobiographical, and if the topics discussed are controversial, there is a fear that someone will think the opinions are those of the writer.

But there is a plus to writing in first person: getting inside the head of the protagonist that cannot happen in third. We hear what the character is thinking, feel his emotions, see what she sees and so on. First person presents a biased view of the world, but sometimes the reader needs that perspective to understand the motivating factors behind what a character does.

For this exercise you are going to create a character similar to you in terms of age, gender, appearance and experience. You are going to place this character in a familiar scene. It could be inside your dwelling, your workplace, your gym. Using first person, you are going to tell a story that includes what that individual sees, hears, does.

Imagine, for example, a confrontation at the gym. Rules stipulate no cell phone usage and no music other than what is piped over the PA system. A smelly man using equipment near you is violating the rules. He has his phone amped up so that his choice of music is clearly heard by anyone within a few steps. And his music is offensive. It is filled with obscene words, insults certain ethnicities of which your character is one, and speaks of raping women. Of course we would see and hear all this through the filters of the protagonist. And then we see what the character does.

Your task is to create a character and scene and then tell the story using first person. Don’t edit as you write. Just get your thoughts down “on paper” and edit later.

Have fun with this one.

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