First Person POV

9 12 2012

First Person POV

In a first-person narrative the story is relayed by a narrator who is also a character within the story, so that the narrator reveals the plot by referring to this viewpoint character as “I” (or, when plural, “we”). Oftentimes, the first-person narrative is used as a way to directly convey the deeply internal, otherwise unspoken thoughts of the narrator. Frequently, the narrator’s story revolves around him-/herself as the protagonist and allows this protagonist/narrator character’s inner thoughts to be conveyed openly to the audience, even if not to any of the other characters. It also allows that character to be further developed through his/her own style in telling the story. First-person narrations may be told like third-person  ones, in the guise of a person experiencing the events in the story without being aware of conveying that experience to an audience; on the other hand, the narrator may be conscious of telling the story to a given audience, perhaps at a given place and time, for a given reason. In extreme cases, the first-person narration may be told as a story within a story, with the narrator appearing as a character in the story. The first-person narrator also may or may not be the focal character.

The first-person narrator is always a character within his/her own story (whether the protagonist or not). This viewpoint character takes actions, makes judgments and expresses opinions, thereby not always allowing the audience to be able to comprehend some of the other characters’ thoughts, feelings, or perceptions as much as the narrator’s own. We become aware of the events and characters of story through the narrator’s views and knowledge.

In some cases, the narrator gives and withholds information based on his/her own viewing of events. It is an important task for the reader to determine as much as possible about the character of the narrator in order to decide what “really” happens. Example:

 

The narrator can be the protagonist or someone very close to him who is privy to his thoughts and actions or an ancillary character who has little to do with the action of the story. Narrators can report others’ narratives at one or more removes. These are called ‘frame narrators’

In autobiographical fiction, the first person narrator is the character of the author (with varying degrees of accuracy). The narrator is still distinct from the author and must behave like any other character and any other first person narrator. In some cases, the narrator is writing a book — “the book in your hands” — therefore it has most of the powers and knowledge of the author.

A rare form of first person is the first person omniscient, in which the narrator is a character in the story, but also knows the thoughts and feelings of all the other characters. It can seem like third person omniscient at times. The narrator restricts the events relayed in the narrative to those that it could reasonably have knowledge of.

 

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One response

10 12 2012
karensdifferentcorners

This is a great explanation of first person POV!

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