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mum23
07-19-2007, 11:21 AM
I hope I've got this right. First person as in me, I etc.
Does this type of writing style work and can anyone direct me to work that has been written this way. (apart from my daughters Jackie Daydream by Jaquline Wilson!)
I still can't decide whether to write my work as fiction or non fiction. I am struggling with non fiction as I feel my story is totally lost in 'made up stuff.'
Any help greatly appreciated as usual.

swvaughn
07-19-2007, 04:24 PM
Lots of stuff is written in first person! :) It does work quite well in many cases.

Top of my head:

Odd Thomas, Dean Koontz
The Dresden Files (any of the series), Jim Butcher

Drawnig a total blank for some reason, but there's two...

Bo Sullivan
07-19-2007, 04:51 PM
I have just read two books that were written in first person, as follows:

The Boleyn Inheritance - Phillipa Gregory
Innocent Traitor - Alison Weir

Maryn
07-19-2007, 05:14 PM
Bridget Jones's Diary, Helen Fielding
Outlander series, Diana Gabaldon
Fight Club, Chuck Palahniuk
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, Mark Haddon
Spare Change, Robert B. Parker

And that's just from the stack of books in reach of this chair. It's very common for the author to use first-person POV, in my experience particularly in mystery and thrillers.

Maryn, big fan of first person

maestrowork
07-19-2007, 05:45 PM
So many to choose from -- where to begin? I know, how about the book store and the library? If you pick up 10 books, chances are at least one is written in first person.

If nothing else, pick up:

To Kill a Mockingbird
The Kite Runner


Start from there.

Azraelsbane
07-19-2007, 06:08 PM
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time was great!

I'm also a fan of first person, and it works for telling a story very well. However, it's not for everybody. Just realize going in that you're limited to what one person knows/thinks. You have to keep a believable personality throughout, but if you know the char inside and out (it sounds like the char might be you, so this shouldn't be a problem) then go for it!

Also, I'm a fan of unreliable narrators. :D

maestrowork
07-19-2007, 06:10 PM
I think "unreliable narrator" is one of the biggest draws for first person. Can't really do that with another other type of narrative. I can't imagine Fight Club or American Psycho written in anything but first person.

aadams73
07-19-2007, 06:12 PM
Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum books are written in first. Loads of chicklit is written in first. Many mysteries are written in first.

If you give us a teensy clue about what genre you like to read, maybe we can narrow down some more titles for you. :)

Sassee
07-19-2007, 06:33 PM
7 I can come up with off the top of my head:

Laurell K. Hamilton
Vicki Pattersson
Janet Evanovich
Jim Butcher
Mary Janice Davidson
Kim Harrison
Charlaine Harris

You'll find a lot of first person in urban fantasy.

Silver King
07-19-2007, 06:53 PM
The Catcher in the Rye is another example. Who could ever forget Holden Caulfield?

Azraelsbane
07-19-2007, 06:56 PM
He's one of my all time favorite narrators :) That book is what inspired me to write my first novel in 1st.

blacbird
07-19-2007, 08:03 PM
Bear in mind that there's a significant difference between a first-person story told by a narrator character who is not a guise for the writer, and a first-person story that is thinly-veiled autobiography. The first is widely and well-done by many acclaimed writers. The second is also widely done, but less often successful, IMO, and very often a trap for inexperienced writers, leading them into maudlin angst-filled navel-lint examination.

caw

Celia Cyanide
07-19-2007, 08:34 PM
If you give us a teensy clue about what genre you like to read, maybe we can narrow down some more titles for you. :)

What I was going to say. The first book that popped into my head was Baby Sitters Club for some reason. Those are all in first person. But I would have no idea if you would like that!

There is so much in first person. Just let us know what you like, and we can recommend something similar. :)

mum23
07-20-2007, 12:51 PM
Thanks for the comments. I think Bridget Jones is a must for me to start off. Thanks for all the comments. Hope to be inspired.:)

Pamster
07-20-2007, 04:20 PM
Bear in mind that there's a significant difference between a first-person story told by a narrator character who is not a guise for the writer, and a first-person story that is thinly-veiled autobiography. The first is widely and well-done by many acclaimed writers. The second is also widely done, but less often successful, IMO, and very often a trap for inexperienced writers, leading them into maudlin angst-filled navel-lint examination.

caw

Very interesting points blacbird, I think that is why I chose to write my memoir in 3rd person as if it were a novel, I was afraid of not being able to do it properly in 1st person. For some reason I have trouble with 1st person. But the first 1st person you're talking about is one I enjoy reading but have trouble with composing. Thanks for posting that, it helped me to understand that there are two types of 1st person, at least I agree with your post, there might be others who can offer other types of 1st person writing. Great topic mum23. :)

Stew21
07-20-2007, 05:20 PM
The Boleyn Inheritance - Phillipa Gregory



First person I've seen who's read that book, besides me. What did you think of Boleyn Inheritance? I liked it. Three people/first person. I really liked it.


I do really enjoy first person work. And there is a ton of it.

I was also going to say Catcher in the Rye. It was the first thing I thought of.

Xx|e|ph|e|me|r|al|xX
07-21-2007, 01:21 PM
Xx|Whisper by Mimai Selphan Ai. XD

IE, I love first person. Writing and reading. :3

Another one to add to these lists is the Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice. I know those were in first, for the most part at least. So were Animorphs. XD

I'm gonna have to use that as a penname now. :tongue|xX

dpaterso
07-21-2007, 02:41 PM
I'm just saying. I had a curious instance of a reader mocking me because she believed I was obviously living out a pathetic chauvanist male fantasy through my 1st person heroic adventurer protag.* Took me totally by surprise, I'd never really thought of myself in the protag role. But it just goes to show how some readers may regard 1st person, as the author's "if only..." persona. Mind you, it probably depends how awful the writing is. :)

* what can I say, male vampyres are sexually irresistible to women because of the scent they exude... hardly my fault. The closest I come to this is wearing Right Guard.

-Derek

Jamesaritchie
07-21-2007, 11:07 PM
I don't think it matters in the least whether the protagonist is a guise for the writer. It's all in how well it's done. In fact, I think I'd go the other way. Any first person protagonist that really works is going to have a huge chunk of the writer in there with him.

It's the story that matter, not whether the protagonist is really the writer in disguise. Too many writers goof by writing a story that's just wish fulfillment, not in the fact that the character is largely the writer.

First person is extremely common in mystery and western, of course, and almost all noir fiction is first person.

First person can be a tougher sell for a new writer. It seems so easy and natural to write that many think it is easy and natural. But doing it well, telling a publishable story in first person, is generally much tougher than telling that same story in third person limited, so agents and editors do tend to shy away from first person novels written by new writers.

Unless you read a lot of first person, you probably can't write it well enough to sell such a novel.

rugcat
07-21-2007, 11:41 PM
First person can be a tougher sell for a new writer. It seems so easy and natural to write that many think it is easy and natural. But doing it well, telling a publishable story in first person, is generally much tougher than telling that same story in third person limited, so agents and editors do tend to shy away from first person novels written by new writers.I tend to agree with this. A new writer often finds it easier to write in first person than third. The problem is, although writing in first is easy, writing something good in first is hard -- more difficult than third, I think.

Xx|e|ph|e|me|r|al|xX
07-21-2007, 11:44 PM
Xx|^^That's something I hate to hear. XD I've been writing for a long while and started out in third, but this is also kind of my first REAL thing, and it's in first. I realize the complexities of it, but I love it for those complexities, really.

Can only hope I'm good at it...:tongue|xX

blacbird
07-22-2007, 12:03 AM
I don't think it matters in the least whether the protagonist is a guise for the writer. It's all in how well it's done. In fact, I think I'd go the other way. Any first person protagonist that really works is going to have a huge chunk of the writer in there with him.

Not quite what I meant. I was thinking of novels like A Clockwork Orange, or Little Big Man, or John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee novels, or Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels, where the author adopts the persona of a narrative character, much like an actor adopts the persona of the role character. Obviously the viewpoints and attitudes of any good author are going to shine through that character persona. But none of these would be described as "autobiographical".

And I also didn't intend to imply that all "autobiographical" novels are inherently bad (obviously they're not), and I don't think I did. My main point stems from a lot of first-person manuscripts by inexperienced writers I've read, in which any real story gets smothered in internal rumination. Too much thinking and feeling, not enough doing and happening.

caw

Jamesaritchie
07-22-2007, 12:34 AM
Not quite what I meant. I was thinking of novels like A Clockwork Orange, or Little Big Man, or John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee novels, or Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe novels, where the author adopts the persona of a narrative character, much like an actor adopts the persona of the role character. Obviously the viewpoints and attitudes of any good author are going to shine through that character persona. But none of these would be described as "autobiographical".

And I also didn't intend to imply that all "autobiographical" novels are inherently bad (obviously they're not), and I don't think I did. My main point stems from a lot of first-person manuscripts by inexperienced writers I've read, in which any real story gets smothered in internal rumination. Too much thinking and feeling, not enough doing and happening.

caw

Sorry I misunderstood you. Yes, first person by new writers is very often filled with the internal. They forget the real story takes place out in the world, just as it does in third person.

What bugs me is seeing so many manuscripts by new writers where every last thing is filtered through the protagonist. I saw, I heard, I felt, etc. Sometimes the simple article "the" can work wonders. Instead of writing I saw/heard the car explode, just writing the car exploded can make all the difference.

Varthikes
07-22-2007, 12:38 AM
Nerilka's Story by Anne McCaffrey
Star Trek: The Next Generation: I, Q by Peter David and John de Lancie

blacbird
07-22-2007, 01:41 AM
What bugs me is seeing so many manuscripts by new writers where every last thing is filtered through the protagonist. I saw, I heard, I felt, etc. Sometimes the simple article "the" can work wonders. Instead of writing I saw/heard the car explode, just writing the car exploded can make all the difference.

Agreed. I find I do this a lot (either in first- or third-person POV: he saw X happen, instead of X happened) in rough draft. Being aware of it now, I look for this minor fetish at the edit phase, and consider each instance in its context; most can be changed, but a minority need to stay. The point is, much like the infamous It was X that did Y construction, they all need to be examined, one by one, at the edit stage.

caw

maestrowork
07-22-2007, 04:00 AM
That's just filtering, and many writers filter through 3rd person narrative as well (she saw, she heard, she felt...), as well as internal monologues. Granted, it's easier to do with 1st person and sometimes there's just no other way -- the narrator has to do something, and there's no way of avoiding the "I." But filtering, in general, is just poor writing.

Anthony Ravenscroft
07-22-2007, 09:55 AM
I still can't decide whether to write my work as fiction or non fiction.
To me, it sounds like there are tons of underlying questions. The discussion has turned to finer points of fashion, & the OP is still unsure of what a needle is, much less how to thread it.

mum23, at a guess you're still a few years away from having a finished first draft. Do you accept that?

Jamesaritchie
07-22-2007, 05:53 PM
That's just filtering, and many writers filter through 3rd person narrative as well (she saw, she heard, she felt...), as well as internal monologues. Granted, it's easier to do with 1st person and sometimes there's just no other way -- the narrator has to do something, and there's no way of avoiding the "I." But filtering, in general, is just poor writing.

Yes, but at least in third person even new writers usually find alternatives to he and she, even if it's just the character's name.

Jamesaritchie
07-22-2007, 05:55 PM
mum23, at a guess you're still a few years away from having a finished first draft. Do you accept that?

Lord, I hope not. No one should be years away from a finished first draft, no matter how new they are, or how much they have to learn.

maestrowork
07-22-2007, 07:01 PM
Yes, but at least in third person even new writers usually find alternatives to he and she, even if it's just the character's name.

In first person, it's not possible, or if you really try so hard to eliminate all the I's, the prose will feel very stilted. 1st person narrative basically is a dialogue between the narrator and the readers, and the "I" is important in that dialogue, to make it a true 1st person. I really don't think the "I" is the problem -- I think the misuse or the overuse of the word is.



Unless, of course, we go the "Bob Dole" route. :)

Bob Dole went to the market and bought some cheese. Bob Dole liked it.

Birol
07-22-2007, 07:09 PM
What I'm hearing JAR say, Ray, is that many first person novels by first-time authors have almost every sentence begin with "I". This is problematic. In that case, it's not just filtering.

blacbird
07-22-2007, 08:52 PM
In first person, it's not possible, or if you really try so hard to eliminate all the I's, the prose will feel very stilted. 1st person narrative basically is a dialogue between the narrator and the readers, and the "I" is important in that dialogue, to make it a true 1st person. I really don't think the "I" is the problem -- I think the misuse or the overuse of the word is.

Echo Birol. I think this is pretty much what JAR meant (he didn't say eliminate all the I's), and he's made similar comments on similar threads before. I concur.

caw

Jamesaritchie
07-23-2007, 02:59 AM
In first person, it's not possible, or if you really try so hard to eliminate all the I's, the prose will feel very stilted. 1st person narrative basically is a dialogue between the narrator and the readers, and the "I" is important in that dialogue, to make it a true 1st person. I really don't think the "I" is the problem -- I think the misuse or the overuse of the word is.



Unless, of course, we go the "Bob Dole" route. :)

Bob Dole went to the market and bought some cheese. Bob Dole liked it.


Well, I don't think it would be out of line, or stilted, to write something like, The cheapest Swiss cheese at Hardy's Market was seven bucks a pound. But what the heck? Swiss cheese is one of the greatest treats in life.

You can even jump to "my". But what the heck? Swiss cheese is one of my favorite foods. Building lunch without it was not going to happen, seven bucks a pound, or not.

But, yes, it's overuse of "I" that's the problem, and it should not be avoid completely. But using "I" does not mean you have to use it as a filter every time it pops up. When something directly relates to the protagonist, the "I" generally doesn't stand out unless it's overused way too much. But when outside events are preceded by "I," you're filtering, and likely have a serious problem.

It is, however, possible to write first person without every using "I," and to still write very well. It's not something I'd want to do, but it is possible, There's some very good first person out there that reads almost exactly like third person limited.