Improving Your Craft: First Person POV

My favorite point of view to write in is first person. No other POV can provide such deep immersion into a character. All types of third person POV filter the character’s experiences through the eyes of an observer. In first person POV, the reader gets to assume the character’s identity, feel their emotions, and live their life. Using first person can be particularly tricky, so I’m going to give you some tips on how to strengthen your writing in this POV.

First, edit out ‘I’, ‘me’, and ‘my’ as much as you possibly can. This seems contradictory, but I promise it’s going to help. Here’s an example of bad writing pulled from the scribblings of Yours Truly:

“I used my eyes, ears, and nose to scour the estranged landscape for any threat to me.”

It’s is better written like this:

“Using all five senses, I examined the estranged landscape for any threat.”

This next example uses I four times in a single sentence.

“I listened and the more I listened the more I was convinced that, not only was the noise produced by something alive, but it came from within the very car I crouched against.”

It can be cut down to one I like this:

“The minutes crept by while the noise continued, proving that something alive occupied the very car I crouched against.”

Doing this for entire paragraphs is going to make your first person POV sound more mature.

Second, do not use I heard, I saw, I noticed, I realized, I felt, I thought, etc. The properties of this POV make these things understood, so you don’t have to specify who saw, heard, etc. Instead of writing, “I thought the man looked exhausted,” write, “The man looked exhausted.” We know who is looking at him and what he is thinking because we are already in the POV character’s head.

Third, do not begin every sentence or paragraph with I. Varying your sentence and paragraph structure to avoid this will make your writing smoother and more pleasant to read.

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