Writing in First Person

In case you haven’t noticed, about 70% of YA fiction is written in first person. I’m currently attempting this in my NaNoWriMo project. I”ve written one other novel in first person, but the rest were all third person, which I find much easier to write. YA is mostly written in first person, though, because it make the reader immediately identify with the main character, which is really important for YA fiction.

I’ve been having a little bit of trouble with it, but I just came across a simple bit of advice in Elements of Fiction Writing-Description by Monica Wood that I feel has greatly improved my writing this morning. It’s so simple, at first I didn’t even think about it, but then it wiggled its way back into my brain. Here it is: when writing in first person, you need to remember that ALL descriptions are coming from your protagonist. Ms. Wood then goes on to say, “Make sure you erase yourself completely from the descriptions.”

Um… why didn’t I think about that before? My protagonist is a sixteen-year-old high school student, but in some places, her descriptions sound like they’re coming for a 31-year-old wife and mother! As soon as I applied this, my writing seemed to instantly have more presence, more voice. Somewhere inside myself, I already knew this, but it took one simple sentence in a writing guide to bring it to the forefront of my writing. Just goes to show you learn something new everyday!

 

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