First Person Point of View

In the last post we discussed the types of point of view (POV). Now that you understand the differences between them, we will spend the next few weeks discussing the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Today’s focus is first person POV.

To recap: In first person POV the narrator is always a character in the story, the narrator relates the events they experience, and the pronoun “I” is used to relate those events.

The Pros of First Person POV:
  • It allows for stronger development of the viewpoint character’s voice since it is the only voice used throughout the narrative.
  • It allows for greater intimacy between the viewpoint character and the reader because the reader has direct access to all of the character’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Also because of that direct access, understanding the character’s thoughts, feelings, and motivations is a simple task for the reader.
  • The first person stream-of-consciousness style can allow the writer to disguise some of the exposition.
  • It is possible to have an unreliable narrator since there is no other viewpoint to shine a light on the flaws of the narrator.
The Cons of First Person POV:
  • Limits the breadth of story that can be told because it can’t show any event at which the viewpoint character isn’t present.
  • Describing the character’s physical appearance tactfully can be difficult.
  • The constant use of “I” and “me” can become repetitive.
  • The constant insight to the viewpoint character’s emotions can feel self-indulgent.
  • There is no access to any other character’s thoughts or feelings.
  • The viewpoint character won’t necessarily understand the larger picture of the story which can make it difficult for the author to provide enough information for the reader to be able to do so.
  • The line between the author and the character can blur making the writing more personal.

Did I miss any pros or cons of the first person point of view? Let me know in the comments.

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