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So for instance if you want to tell the story from the POV of a 4 year old girl, you'd probably want to end up using third person limited or even a little more than limited so that the audience can understand her kids that age, while fascinating, are horrible storytellers because they don't understand which details to include and which to leave out.

Basically, it allows you to kind of straddle the line between actually making up a separate, coherent voice for a character and still being able to tell a relatively neutral narrative. The other deal with first person which can be really off-putting for some readers comes from the idea that few if any people really think they are villains. You'd have people constantly making excuses and justifications for some really nasty actions, you'd probably confuse the audience a little bit with their insistence that the "other side" is just as two-faced and mean spirited when that's not always clear , and why should they ever be assumed to be reliable when they lie, cheat, and steal everyone else on a daily basis?

That's exactly the kind of character a reader is liable to not want to feel too close to.

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Of course, if you're looking for something cool and experimental, all the things I just listed as "flaws" are rather the opposite of that. Consider Irvine Welsh's novel Trainspotting and if you've just seen the movie, I highly recommend the book.

First Person Dos and Donts

The dialect used is strange and the narrator is not always the nicest of people, but that's also kind of why it works. Faulkner had a real penchant for writing stream of consciousness style writing that really got into the heads of his characters. First person can be a joy to read but it can also be one of the hardest things to get right.

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Asked 8 years, 8 months ago. Active 4 years, 2 months ago. Viewed k times. Ralph Gallagher Ralph Gallagher 8, 5 5 gold badges 30 30 silver badges 61 61 bronze badges. Advantages First person narratives also have a much easier time garnering empathy from your audience, since they end up spending so much time in your character's brain. If done well, it can give logic and motivations to characters that would seem otherwise evil, immoral, or otherwise not relatable.

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It more easily fleshes a character on the page by allowing the audience to listen to their voice for long periods of time. A beginning writer often finds it easier to keep consistent tone, style, and prose when writing in first person. In some ways, a first person narrator can more easily "dump" information on the reader. Disadvantages Many authors discount this, but I think it's important: the narrator needs to have a clear reason to be telling or documenting the story in the first place.

Describing the protagonist clearly let alone honestly and objectively is very difficult, and usually requires tacky tricks like staring into a mirror. Perspective and perceptions are extremely limited. First person narrators, unless they are telling the story far in the future, are less inclined to understand the gravity of any situation. In general they are more grounded in the immediacy of any given moment and less able to see its place in the grand scope of things.

I've seen a couple first person stories that have chapters that follow other characters around. It's rare, but when done right it pretty damn good. Ralph I've seen this, too, and it can be done well for sure. It niggles at me somewhat, but that's probably just because I'm seeing it as a writer.


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I doubt the majority of readers are at all bothered by that format. Yeah, one writer's "disadvantage" is another's "advantage". A curve-ball.

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