Point of View: First

Now that we’ve gone over the basics, let’s talk about each viewpoint in more detail. If you missed the first post on the basics of Point of View, you can check it out here.

First Person POV is something many people either love or hate.. Writing in First — and, more importantly, doing it well — can be a bit tricky. Done poorly, it will draw your readers out of the story and, most likely, force them to put your book down before they even get to Chapter Two. But, when done well, using this POV can truly bring your story and your characters to life.


The pitfalls:

  • It’s harder to show, not tell. (If you need help showing instead of telling, visit Showing vs. Telling: 10 Resources to Help you Show, Not Tell)
    It’s easy to fall into the trap of walking your character through every step they take:
    “I stood and went to the cupboard. Then I took out a mug and poured myself a cup of coffee.” This is telling. While some telling is necessary, an entire story like this would be pretty boring.
  • It’s easy to let your own voice slip into the narration and take over your character’s voice.
  • It locks you into one character’s perspective. (We’ll touch on head-hopping and using multiple first person’s POV later.)
  • Your reader can only know what your character knows, sees, or experiences, making it a little more difficult to work in descriptions and setting. An additional downfall of this is that it can create a vacuum of filler words: I heard, I saw, I felt. This slips back into telling, not showing. These filler words distance your reader from the story.

This is not to say, however, this POV can’t be done. Below are three timeless works of fiction that are written in First — two of which are my absolute favorite books. Some examples of first person:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

  • Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Now, for some strengths of writing in First:

  • It’s intimate. Readers get a firsthand look into the mind of your character and experience the story on a much closer level, as if they’re watching the story unfold through their eyes. This can really evoke the reader’s senses and pull them into the story.
  • Great for unique voices. To Kill a Mockingbird is a good example, with its story told through the eyes of a child — Scout.
  • Readers can get a feel for your character’s history, or even the setting, such as using a Southern U.S. dialect.
  • An unreliable narrator in First can create amazing plot twists and intrigue in a good thriller or mystery, such as Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn or The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. Fight Club by Chuck Palanhiuk is an amazing example of an unreliable narrator.


Some tips for writing in First:

Utilize the five senses. The bubbling champagne tingled on my tongue. His cheeks were rough against my fingertips, giving a stark contrast from the softness of his lips. The deafening discord around me — from the cheering fans to the screaming guitar blaring from the amps — drowned out even my own thoughts.

Give your narrator a unique voice. While your narrator doesn’t have to have a strong accent to the point of marring the narration itself (think Lennie from Of Mice and Men), they shouldn’t sound stiff and robotic, unless, of course, your narrator is a robot. Make them sound human.
An interesting read is Flowers for Algernon, a story about a learning-disabled man who goes through an experimental trial to raise intelligence. As readers, we see his intelligence grow through the language of his diary entries.

Know your characterKeep in mind their history and back story. Where did they grow up? What sort of education did they have? What is their personality like? Are they abrasive and rough around the edges? Or gentle and kind?


Other things to keep in mind.

Head hoppingWhile some more popular books or series head hop, know that it can be jarring for readers. Yes, it’s a way to get around the limitations of what your character knows, but some might consider a bit of a cop-out. (I recently read Me Before You, which involved several instances of chapters narrated by different characters. I found those chapters boring or irritating — I found myself wanting to get back to Lou’s chapters.) Personally, I’m not a fan of it. The one book that I’ve personally read that did two different first-person POVs was Gone Girl; the first half of the book was told by one character, the second half by the other.

Your narrator doesn’t have to be your protagonist — peripheral narration. Think Nick Caraway in The Great Gatsby. He’s a first-person narrator who isn’t in the midst of the action.

Don’t be afraid to play around with different points of view and narration types. If one doesn’t work out, consider it good practice!


What are your thoughts on First-Person narration?


Guest Post: How to Make Your Characters Interesting

Guest post by Joshua Robinson

How to Make Your Characters Interesting

The secret to a successful and engaging book lies in its live, realistic and interesting characters! Bright characters attract readers. What should the character be to cause interest? All good authors understand that the heroes of their works should be just as unique, inconsistent and contradictory as real people because all of these contradictions are exactly what creates a character personality. This is what allows you to breathe life into your heroes. Besides, such contradictions make a good character an interesting personality that readers want to know more closely, striving to “live” through the book’s plot together with him and share experiences.

How to make a character interesting? From this article, you will learn about the basic principles of story writing and find some of the best character ideas that will help you create an engaging book that people will love!

How to Create Your Character

This is a long process that will require lots of creativity and brainstorming, but if you follow the tips provided below, you will handle this task easily and quickly!

  • Define the genre that is close to you – the first step of your process requires you to determine whether you are going to create a dramatic, fantasy, love, humorous or adventure story. Why is this important? The main rule is to keep the harmony between the plot and your characters, and this is why you need to have at least a general understanding of the plot before you can come up with some good ideas!
  • Define the hero’s role. Will it be the main or an auxiliary, positive or negative personality? If you can identify the role of a new hero in advance, it will be easier for you to create a personality suitable for this role.
  • Think of the main traits. At this stage of the process, you should define what good character traits your person should have and also think of his appearance (age, hair, eyes); try to consider him as a new acquaintance, which you are trying to learn more closely. Make these traits relevant to his role. Then add some character flaws – but again, always try to keep the balance or you risk making your hero too unnatural.
  • Think over the hero’s past. Your hero will only look complete and wholesome personality if you tell the reader about certain past events that determined his present. To make him more mysterious – he may keep a terrible secret from his past. Try to add as many details as possible. Without hesitation, add new traits and details, even if you are already in the process of writing a story – the main thing is not to forget to go back to the very beginning and change everything that does not fit to the adjusted character.
  • Develop the hero along with the development of the plot. The events that take place in the story bring your heroes new experience and memories, influence their thoughts, actions and attitudes.
  • Don’t tell; show! Do not be too straightforward! Instead of telling the reader who is the particular person directly, use his actions and dialogues to give readers the clues that will help them to find the answers on their own. If you devote a long paragraph to describing the nature and appearance of the hero, this can make your story unnatural and thus, you should try to make every personality an organic part of your story.

What Are The Main Tips To Keep In Mind?

If you follow the steps described above, you will easily create a unique and engaging hero for your story, but here are a few more practical tips to keep in mind:

  • Visualization is a great creativity-booster – if you have such a possibility, try to draw every person that you want to include in your plot;
  • No one can be absolutely negative or positive – it looks unnatural and uninteresting if your heroes are either bad or completely good, and that is why you should always keep the balance;
  • Seek inspiration in people who surround you – often, observing the behavior of those who surround you is the best source of inspiration and fresh ideas for your story;
  • Try to pay special attention to conversations – make sure that the personality of your hero is clearly seen in his manner of speech, it is not easy to create such connection but if you manage to do this – you are doomed to succeed;
  • Be attentive to details – do not allow your characters do or say something that contradicts with their life goals, values, beliefs and personality or it will not look realistic!

Follow all of these tips and the whole process will get much simpler! And, after some practice, you will gain the literary flair that will help you make your stories even more natural and live!


Author’s Bio: This post is written Joshua Robinson a creative writer, who also works part-time as a professional academic assistant for students at https://australianwritings.com.au. Joshua has written several short stories and books. He claims that one of the hardest steps in creating a good story is making interesting characters. In this article, Joshua shares his own tips and tricks that will help you create original and creative characters with ease!

Point of View: Back to Basics (#1)

If you’ve landed on this page, odds are you already know what POV is and are trying to decide which to use. If you don’t, or if you’re confused, that’s okay too. There are a ton of articles out there on viewpoint, a few of which I’ve found helpful and will link at the end of this post.

There are various options for storytelling. Sometimes it will come naturally; other times, you’ll dilly dally back and forth before deciding what works best. Ultimately there’s no right or wrong answer!

So, what is the POV of your story? In the most basic of terms, it’s who’s telling the story to your readers. Is it your main character? Is it an all-knowing person outside of your story who can read the minds of all your characters? Or is it a narrator who can read the mind of only one character?

Let’s cover the absolute basics first. We’ll cover more the more nitty-gritty pros and cons of each in upcoming posts. Here are your POV options at the most basic level:

  • 1st Person
    “I” narration. I sat down. I said something. I did this. I’m the main character in your story.

    The story is told from a character’s viewpoint, and is typically filtered through that character’s speech, thoughts, and overall personality. This type of narration creates intimacy between the reader and the narrator, and can help create sympathy.

  • 2nd Person
    “You” narration. You sat down. You said something. You did this. You are the main character.

    This type of POV is rare in fiction novels. It’s mostly used in pick-your-own-adventure type books or some short stories. The one example I know of for contemporary fiction is Bright Lights, Big City by Jay McInerny.

  • 3rd Person
    “He/she” narration. He sat down. She said something. They did this. She is the main character in your story.

    There are two basic types of 3rd person:

    • Limited
      • The narrator knows the thoughts and emotions of only one character. Creates intimacy similar to 1st person.

    • Omniscient (God-like or all-knowing)
      • The narrator knows the thoughts and emotions of all the characters and can describe them at will. Creates much more distance than 1st or 3rd limited.

There’s no right or wrong choice for your story, only what works best. Each type of POV has its pros and cons, and we’ll be looking at all of them in this series.

Naming Your Characters ~ A Few Things to Consider


Naming your characters doesn’t have to be overwhelmingly complicated. (Cue the stereotypical Shakespeare quote here.) Some writers spend days upon days researching the etymology of different names and words for their characters. It’s totally OK if you don’t find names the same way.

However, you should put at least a little work into naming your characters. The kind of names will, for obvious reasons, have vast differences from genre to genre — such as high fantasy versus contemporary romance.

Here are some things to consider when it comes to naming your babies. …I mean characters.

  • Heritage/Time period/Geographical/Background
    I’d like to believe that taking your character’s background into consideration for a name would be a self-explanatory step, but… no, it’s not. No matter the genre, some names are completely out of place. A reader will be completely thrown off by stumbling across a character named “Billy-Bob” in a medieval fantasy, or “Caligula” and “Eudoxia” in a contemporary romance that takes place in Podunk Town, Missouri, unless, of course, there’s a damn good reason for it.Your character’s name should make sense with the story and with their own background. Research common names for that time period (or, if it’s a more contemporary story, you can research the most common names for the specific year your character was born in).
  • Readability and Pronunciation, Same First Letter
    Avoid names that have difficult spellings or pronunciations. Also, avoid having two character names that start with the same letter. It’s harder for our eyes to differentiate two names in the same scene that start with the same letter.
  • Spelling
    Stay away from odd/weird/”hip” spellings of common names. It only makes it harder on your reader.
  • Contrived names, obvious names
    Some writers like names that sound clever or cute or witty, like naming a wise, old man Sage, or a peace-keeping girl Serenity. Depending on the story, they may sound contrived and come off as corny. Keep your genre and target audience in mind — what sounds goofy for an adult romance may work well for a YA novel.
    This isn’t to say that names derived from everyday words can’t work. A clever name, however,  won’t make your character memorable. A well developed, fleshed-out, sympathetic character is memorable.

It’s good to have a rough idea of who your character is before picking out a name. If you decide to start writing first, use a placeholder, such as [NAME], instead of a temporary name. It’s harder to go back and change from a temporary name, as you may get used to it.

Baby name resources, from websites to books (besides writers, does anyone even buy baby name books anymore…?), are your best friends when it comes to names. Here are some links to helpful resources!

Behind the Name — Offers the etymology and meaning behind thousands of names. You can even search by language, country, or even Biblical and Medieval names.

2000-Names.com — Another great resource with thousands of names, searchable by region/language/time period/etc.

BabyCenter — Good if you’re looking for a name that’s more contemporary or modern. They have some cutesy categories, such as Old fashioned and Nature.

Social Security Administration (SSA) — This is your best resource to search the most common or popular names by year or decade (for the US, at least).

Two additions for Fantasy and Sci-Fi writers, thanks to Matt (be sure to check out his blog and writing!) :

donjon — Gives a few options to create different combinations for name generation.