With the ravenous popularity of the Divergent trilogy by Roth, many aspiring authors think of imitating her writing style with first person, present tense narrative. Using first person POV may seem like the easy choice at first. But it’s not always the best choice. There should be a good reason to choose a first person POV. The voice of the writing should be distinctive and not that of the author. Some reasons to use first person.
- The slang or habits of the narrator due to age or social status ares needed to color the plot.
- To keep a narrow focus on events in order to hide things from the reader.
- To immerse the reader in the emotions or mentality of the narrator. For instance, Hannibal Lecter would see the world in a totally different way from the detective.
- To infuse the story events with a social or character view.
The default should be third-person. That way the narrative portion should sink into the background and not be noticeable to the reader for the most part. They pick up character and setting from dialogue and description.
If you’re uncertain which person to use , try writing the first chapter from third person and give both versions to an independent, unbiased reader. See which they think sounds best.
Second person is almost NEVER used because it will likely confuse your readers. But it has been done.
If you have other reasons for choosing a particular narrative POV, please let me know.