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Curious about your opinions on stories written in first person

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Corey

Corey
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When I began my story on Dims, I knew that the only way for me to feel comfortable writing it was if I wrote it in first person. This is my first shot at writing fiction, so I wanted to do what felt most natural to me. I honestly never gave my decision a second thought until last night when I came across a few articles saying romances should not be told in first person.

I started my story on a whim, which was my first mistake, but lately I’ve been really frustrated with my writing. I cringe at it and then experience embarrassment at the lack of depth, especially since I can’t edit after a certain time. I do edit beforehand, but I still find better ways to write certain things days after I’ve submitted. I’m so distracted by my busy home life due to the coronavirus lockdown that when I DO have the time to write, it’s for 10 minutes here and there, and this process can last over a span of days before I have enough material to post. To be clear, I am not writing just to get a post out or to get my story out of the way. I enjoy creating my story. It’s the lack of time and focus that has me frustrated, so I researched tips on writing romance in first person, with the hopes of being able to make the best of my quick 10 minute writing increments.

I had no idea people were against first person. Then I looked around at other people’s stories on Dims and noticed that not many use first person.

So, my question is for the other writers on Dims:

Which point of view is your favorite to write from, and why? Are you against first person?


And readers (and writers):

Do you notice a difference in which point of view you’re reading from, and do you have a favorite? As a reader, do you feel that your experience is limited when you only see things from the narrator’s eyes? Do you become bored with hearing the same voice throughout the story?

These are things I never thought of until last night, so I’m interested in hearing what others have to say. As I said, Private Practice is my first story, so I’m in no way experienced. I still have a lot to learn before tackling my next story.
 

Shh! Don’t tell!

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I also cringe at my own writing sometimes, I think that’s just life. When I’ve written on here it’s been in non-omnipotent third person just because that’s what I mostly read and feel comfortable with. I wouldn’t write in 1st person because I’m just not as comfortable with it, but there’s nothing wrong with it, it has its own strengths and weaknesses just like thperson.

Also, this might just a personal hang-up of mine, but when I’m writing fetish content third person perspective feels comfortably removed to write. Something about first personal seemed too intimate and too close for comfort. To me, first person feels like I’m speaking about myself instead of someone else which makes me feel uncomfortable when I’m writing wg. Third person has the feeling of observing from a distance. I hope that makes a least a little bit of sense and is not complete rambling.

I’ve noticed the really hard core kinky stuff always tends to use second person. If someone writes in second person you know they’re not fucking around with character development or plot or anything, it’s just pure horniness.

I wouldn’t worry too much about high quality writing. I actually wrote most of the stuff I’ve written on here while in withdrawal from psychiatric drugs and to be honest, I think it shows. It ain’t Shakespeare. But I don’t think of this as a place to post my best work; it’s a place to have fun and express yourself. As long as you’re having fun writing, it’s good enough, in my opinion.
 
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Corey

Corey
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@Shh! Don’t tell! I think a lot of writers cringe at their work at some point or another, too. Personally, I am a huge perfectionist. It’s tiring. When it comes to things with my name behind it, I will not attempt it until I have the space, time, and mindset to perfect it. Well, with 3 young kids, those opportunities will never happen, and I can’t write when I’m dead. So there’s that. I just wanted to free myself for a moment, and the best way to do that was in a community with a bunch of strangers.

That makes sense as to why you would prefer to write in third person. It actually makes a lot of sense. First person feels the most comfortable to me because I am writing from my personal perspective and a lot of it is in my own voice. I know you’re not supposed to do that, but again, I was going for most comfortable. Just dipping my toes in. It’s easy for me to be intimate in my writing and to express my character’s sexual desires because I feel those on a very real level with my husband. So I’m just writing what I feel. When I first started my story, all I did was think ‘What would husband say/react to this, what would I say/react to that’ and as my story progressed, I felt comfortable enough to branch out more.

You are the 2nd person to tell me I need to let go of the high quality writing expectation, so I will try, but just know that I smack myself each time I post anything less. And also, the reason I’ve enjoyed your story (only read Big Shot) so much is because at times the dialogue got super quirky and I LOVED it. I love imperfect, quirky, witty characters.

Thanks for your input!
 

jakemcduck

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First, rules are made to be broken once you understand them. Anytime I see writing gurus say you shouldn't this, you shouldn't that, I take it with a grain of salt. The story is the boss. If you feel it should be first person, then that's what you should do. My first two stories (Sam and Sarah, and Truckin') and a later one (Oil Boom) were all first person. I don't think there's a wrong POV for any genre. The trouble with first person is it can be all I, I, I, I, I, I. Now that I've done a little writing I prefer third person.

Writing can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. I start stories on a whim too and they always frustrate me because I always get to a point where I don't know where it's going. I have to have some kind of outline and have an end in mind. It starts with a line, or a scene, or a situation I want to write about, i think of characters, I might jot down a few things, but if I want my story to be successful I need to have some kind of outline. Not all writers like or need outlines, but I need one. And another frustration is my limited time to write, daily tasks, work, etc. There's always something.

Talk about cringe. It's normal. Anytime I see older writing (when i was learning to write) and I'm like, omg, i hope nobody ever sees this. Even work that's already posted I think I could have said that differently, or I wish I could go back and change something. But that's part of the challenge of posting as you go. The continuity of the story.

Don't worry about what people are against. If you said you're for fluffy bunnies and rainbows, you can bet someone would announce some bunny did them wrong, or how rainbows hurt their eyes. The story is the story and only you can tell it, so tell it how you're best able.

It's not a story's POV that makes it boring. Throwing junk in there that doesn't belong makes a story boring. Boring, uninteresting characters make a story boring, loading me up with backstory that tells me about a character (as opposed to something that happened to a character that might clue me in to what they're about) make a story boring.

There's only one way to get experience. Do it.
 

happily_married

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I sometimes write in first person. There are advantages to it and challenges. Narrative can become tiresome to read and right so usually when I do use first person I try to make sure I include the character’s thoughts as dialogue.

Also, if you’ve read a James Patterson novel or two you’ll notice he sometimes switches between first person and third, and then at some point he reveals which character the first person is. Which if you’ve read him enough actually becomes easy to figure out, but I digress. Harlan Coben is another, possibly my favorite novelist who writes a lot of first person material and it’s amazing.

First person also works well in shorter pieces. I’m tinkering around with a couple that are first person. And in the past I used to write fetish stuff usually in first person because it was my way of “living” a fantasy.

Lastly I’ve been mulling about a flash fic piece i may post here. It’ll be first person but from the perspective of a plus size woman, something I’m not. I think being able to capture something like that as a writer would be a unique challenge.

Write what you want and don’t be overly critical of yourself! I need to read more of the stories here.
 

RVGleason

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I’m a romantic at heart, and I write my stories with an aspect of cute romance in them.

Elements of weight gain are in my stories, but I want the romance between two people who are fond of each other and eventually fall in love to be the main focus of the stories.

I hope I’ve succeeded to some degree in expressing that in my stories.
 

Corey

Corey
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First, rules are made to be broken once you understand them. Anytime I see writing gurus say you shouldn't this, you shouldn't that, I take it with a grain of salt. The story is the boss. If you feel it should be first person, then that's what you should do. My first two stories (Sam and Sarah, and Truckin') and a later one (Oil Boom) were all first person. I don't think there's a wrong POV for any genre. The trouble with first person is it can be all I, I, I, I, I, I. Now that I've done a little writing I prefer third person.

Writing can be as frustrating as it is rewarding. I start stories on a whim too and they always frustrate me because I always get to a point where I don't know where it's going. I have to have some kind of outline and have an end in mind. It starts with a line, or a scene, or a situation I want to write about, i think of characters, I might jot down a few things, but if I want my story to be successful I need to have some kind of outline. Not all writers like or need outlines, but I need one. And another frustration is my limited time to write, daily tasks, work, etc. There's always something.

Talk about cringe. It's normal. Anytime I see older writing (when i was learning to write) and I'm like, omg, i hope nobody ever sees this. Even work that's already posted I think I could have said that differently, or I wish I could go back and change something. But that's part of the challenge of posting as you go. The continuity of the story.

Don't worry about what people are against. If you said you're for fluffy bunnies and rainbows, you can bet someone would announce some bunny did them wrong, or how rainbows hurt their eyes. The story is the story and only you can tell it, so tell it how you're best able.

It's not a story's POV that makes it boring. Throwing junk in there that doesn't belong makes a story boring. Boring, uninteresting characters make a story boring, loading me up with backstory that tells me about a character (as opposed to something that happened to a character that might clue me in to what they're about) make a story boring.

There's only one way to get experience. Do it.
The whole reason for my frustration over my last installment was because when I went back to read it, I noticed all the ‘I’ that I used. I should have re-proofread the following day after posting and didn’t. When I finally did log on to check over things, the site was down and then my edit time expired. I wrote my last installment at 2am, so when I check things that late, I don’t always catch stuff. I actually fell asleep while proof reading my last installment. But writing until the wee hours of the morning is the only chance I get without interruptions.

I do know how my story will play out, thankfully. I didn’t when I first began, though. I won’t make that mistake twice.

I do add backstory to my characters, which I feel is necessary. I try not to add meaningless fluff, but I still may without knowing it. It’s hard for me to know if others understand what I’m saying because it’s hard for me to see outside of my head. I know what I’m meaning to say, but do others? I’m not sure.
 
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jakemcduck

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You're doing great and I'm really enjoying your story, so don't be so hard on yourself especially since this is your first effort. It doesn't look like a first effort so cut yourself some slack. I don't recall coming across anything that I didn't understand or that wasn't believable.

Adding backstory within the story is fine and often necessary to clue us in to why a character is the way they are. The backstory I was referring to was when writers dump it at the beginning of the story. Readers don't care about that stuff until it's relevant.

It takes time to learn the craft so try not to frustrate yourself with things that naturally improve over time. Enjoy what you're doing. Like I said, you're doing great.
 

Corey

Corey
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You're doing great and I'm really enjoying your story, so don't be so hard on yourself especially since this is your first effort. It doesn't look like a first effort so cut yourself some slack. I don't recall coming across anything that I didn't understand or that wasn't believable.

Adding backstory within the story is fine and often necessary to clue us in to why a character is the way they are. The backstory I was referring to was when writers dump it at the beginning of the story. Readers don't care about that stuff until it's relevant.

It takes time to learn the craft so try not to frustrate yourself with things that naturally improve over time. Enjoy what you're doing. Like I said, you're doing great.
Ah, I get what you’re saying and totally agree. The mushed together ‘Karen was with blonde hair and blue eyes and about 110 pounds with c-cup breasts...she was a cheerleader.’

Thank you for your encouragement. I’ve got lots to think about with everyone’s replies.
 

Ffancy

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I like both first and third person stories. They have different strengths. First person works well for the sort of visceral emotional and sexual scenes that we’re looking for here, and for really getting into one character’s perspective. This can also lead to interesting stories when that perspective is missing information or not interpreting something correctly.

A third person story allows the writer to show more of the action and follow multiple perspectives, and create a sprawling world that gets explored more fully.

Personally I don’t enjoy second person stories that much. They‘re mostly addressed to feedees and force me into a role I don’t enjoy, so I just skip ‘em. Not every story can be everyone’s cup of tea.

Don’t worry about improving your past writing. Take what you’re learning and improve your future writing. Your writing is already great though!
 

Corey

Corey
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I sometimes write in first person. There are advantages to it and challenges. Narrative can become tiresome to read and right so usually when I do use first person I try to make sure I include the character’s thoughts as dialogue.

Also, if you’ve read a James Patterson novel or two you’ll notice he sometimes switches between first person and third, and then at some point he reveals which character the first person is. Which if you’ve read him enough actually becomes easy to figure out, but I digress. Harlan Coben is another, possibly my favorite novelist who writes a lot of first person material and it’s amazing.

First person also works well in shorter pieces. I’m tinkering around with a couple that are first person. And in the past I used to write fetish stuff usually in first person because it was my way of “living” a fantasy.

Lastly I’ve been mulling about a flash fic piece i may post here. It’ll be first person but from the perspective of a plus size woman, something I’m not. I think being able to capture something like that as a writer would be a unique challenge.

Write what you want and don’t be overly critical of yourself! I need to read more of the stories here.
I haven’t read the books from the authors you listed, but they look to be suspense driven, which makes complete sense. Off the top of my head, my favorites written in first person are To Kill a Mockingbird, Gone Girl (which I loved only seeing her crazed point of view), The Hunger Games, Jane Eyre, The Great Gatsby (again, I loved only knowing Nick’s POV). And I love reading biographies.

The more I talk about this, the more I laugh at myself. I seriously read all the time, you guys, I promise. Even with kids crawling all over me. I guess I haven’t paid that much attention to POV, except for Gone Girl and The Great Gatsby, because their narration is very obvious and the protagonists end up having a very skewed truth that comes to light later on. I will admit that in the past year, I’ve been on a biography kick. Maybe that’s why.
 

Corey

Corey
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I like both first and third person stories. They have different strengths. First person works well for the sort of visceral emotional and sexual scenes that we’re looking for here, and for really getting into one character’s perspective. This can also lead to interesting stories when that perspective is missing information or not interpreting something correctly.

A third person story allows the writer to show more of the action and follow multiple perspectives, and create a sprawling world that gets explored more fully.

Personally I don’t enjoy second person stories that much. They‘re mostly addressed to feedees and force me into a role I don’t enjoy, so I just skip ‘em. Not every story can be everyone’s cup of tea.

Don’t worry about improving your past writing. Take what you’re learning and improve your future writing. Your writing is already great though!

Yeah, I like when a credible person’s perspective is proven to be unbalanced toward the end, which throws the reader in for a complete mindfuck. Typically, I can foresee a story’s plot line, so I like to be wrong. I always read those novels over again, enjoying it even more the second time. I also like when a protagonist has an obvious flaw in perspective toward others and life. I don’t know why that is. Maybe it’s because I like to see different people’s viewpoints while also having the opportunity to see behind the eyes of protagonists who struggle with mental health. I am an empath. It drains my emotional energy to read these types of novels where I can feel the struggle (when well written), but it also helps me to broaden my perspective as a person. Not everything is as it seems.

Another reason I really enjoy writing in first person is because I get to tell the story of what a person is thinking (even if flawed) and feeling (the good and the bad) instead of hearing their story told through someone else’s perception. And that’s for personal reasons.

So, when I became a mom for the first time and started working from home, I kept thinking about the woman in The Yellow Wallpaper. I related to her only in the terms of feeling trapped. I felt that my inner voice- who always blessed me with perfectly timed humor and wit during social situations- was trapped in a silent box by itself and with no creative outlet to feed off of. My first pregnancy was unplanned and while my husband was still my fiancé, so I had a baby way earlier than my friends. They pretty much assumed I didn’t want to hang out with them once I became a mom. When I went to other mom-group type things (👎🏼), all they talked about was their baby Henry or Henrietta, or even worse, how sexually charged and lazy their husbands were and so forth. I didn’t want to talk about my baby, who I stayed home with all day, and I didn’t want to talk about my amazing and sexy husband/dad to my daughter/best friend/super hero/and fixer of all the broken things around the house. It didn’t sit right with me to speak positively about my husband to a group of bitter negative Nancy’s. And god forbid if I let it slip that me and my husband had sex more than once a week, sometimes even involving some real kinky shit.

This resulted in me feeling really trapped inside of my own head because NO ONE cared to hear my thoughts. I was much more than a mom and much more than a young wife. I was me, FIRST, and wife and mother second. Actually, when I first became active on Dims, I told myself that I was not going to mention anything about being a mom. I wanted this to be a separate part of me, but that only went on for so long before I felt inauthentic. Brooke’s character has been a great way for me to free my voice and my creativity. Maybe once Private Practice is completed, I will feel like I’m ready to write in 3rd person (but never 2nd).
 

Corey

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@Corey i literally just had one of my team members insist I read Gone Girl. She was adamant about it!
I hate to say this, but you’ll either hate it’s guts or love every stinkin’ part of its sick guts. I haven’t heard of any in-between stances. I loved it, but I’m typically a sucker for strange, not your typical happy ending type of literature. That’s probably why Edgar Allan Poe is my all time favorite.
 

happily_married

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I hate to say this, but you’ll either hate it’s guts or love every stinkin’ part of its sick guts. I haven’t heard of any in-between stances. I loved it, but I’m typically a sucker for strange, not your typical happy ending type of literature. That’s probably why Edgar Allan Poe is my all time favorite.
okay I’ll give it a shot. Bet I could order it on Amazon cheap right now!
 

maltesefalcon

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Biggest issue for 1st person, is that all the action has to take place from one viewpoint. This means you cannot normally add dialogue or action that occurs without the first person being present.

The other issue is the story can end up with too much me, me, me if you are not careful.
But you are the writer, so pick whatever suits you.

Not sure what you mean by "comfortable" above. Are you worried about critics? Just shrug them off.

But if this helps....make the story enjoyable and readable by focussing on grammar, spelling and paragraphing.

Oh-and above all, please don't leave it unfinished lol.
 

Corey

Corey
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Biggest issue for 1st person, is that all the action has to take place from one viewpoint. This means you cannot normally add dialogue or action that occurs without the first person being present.

The other issue is the story can end up with too much me, me, me if you are not careful.
But you are the writer, so pick whatever suits you.

Not sure what you mean by "comfortable" above. Are you worried about critics? Just shrug them off.

But if this helps....make the story enjoyable and readable by focussing on grammar, spelling and paragraphing.

Oh-and above all, please don't leave it unfinished lol.
Thanks for replying! I agree. I have more than one person’s POV- a husband and wife. I switch off between the two every few chapters. I have to be careful, because when distracted, I think I may get into the ‘me’ too easily. I’m going to be more mindful...hopefully.

I think I have the grammar, spelling and paragraphing down, because those are more obvious and bother me.

Surprisingly, no, I’m not worried about critics or if people like my story. Im writing this story for me, and I will finish it. You can count on that. When I said ‘comfortable’ I meant that it would be easier for me to get my story flow out without having to stop and make sure I was writing it correctly.
 

Shotha

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When people tell you what you should be doing or not doing as a writer, these things should be taken as generalizations rather than rules. I've come across excellent pieces of romantic literature written in the first person.

I tend to write in the first person for two reasons. Firstly, I like to write fantasy pieces but they are fantasies about what I would like to happen to me. Secondly, although I write fantasies they are solidly rooted in the reality of actual personal experience.

When you write a romance in the third person, it gives it a feeling of objective detachment from the narrative. However, it also raises the question of how the narrator knows all of the most intimate and secret details of the story. Writing in the first person imposes a testimonial perspective on the story. For example, when I write in the first person it gives my testimonial about what has happened to me as a fat man or what I would like to happen to me as a fat man. When you narrate in the first person, the reader can identify more with the narrator than with the other characters in the story. This can mute the romantic content and that is fine, if you want to do that.

Literature written for sites like Dims is not likely to be classed as great literature, because it appeals to a limited audience. However, if you write a story that people still mention 10 or 20 years later, then you can be sure that you have written an outstanding piece for your genre.
 

Corey

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When people tell you what you should be doing or not doing as a writer, these things should be taken as generalizations rather than rules. I've come across excellent pieces of romantic literature written in the first person.

I tend to write in the first person for two reasons. Firstly, I like to write fantasy pieces but they are fantasies about what I would like to happen to me. Secondly, although I write fantasies they are solidly rooted in the reality of actual personal experience.

When you write a romance in the third person, it gives it a feeling of objective detachment from the narrative. However, it also raises the question of how the narrator knows all of the most intimate and secret details of the story. Writing in the first person imposes a testimonial perspective on the story. For example, when I write in the first person it gives my testimonial about what has happened to me as a fat man or what I would like to happen to me as a fat man. When you narrate in the first person, the reader can identify more with the narrator than with the other characters in the story. This can mute the romantic content and that is fine, if you want to do that.

Literature written for sites like Dims is not likely to be classed as great literature, because it appeals to a limited audience. However, if you write a story that people still mention 10 or 20 years later, then you can be sure that you have written an outstanding piece for your genre.
Has anyone told you lately how valued you are? Not just for your input on this particular thread, but for all of the quality, thought provoking conversations you bring along with you wherever you go. ❤

When I came across the “rules” of writing in first person, I didn’t regret my decision or even think twice about it, really. I should have been more specific in my original post, but I am not regretful for writing my story in first person. I’m just surprised that first person is so frowned upon when writing romantic literature, that’s all. The way I see it is, if I’m the one putting forth the effort to create and write the story, then I’m the one who gets to decide how it’s going to be told.

I felt that writing in first person would bring to life my personal feelings regarding the love and admiration (and inner thoughts) that I have for and about my husband. He’s on my mind a lot of the time anyway, and I’m very familiar with his body and with the way I react to seeing/touching it, so writing from my perspective in the form of a character seems the best option.

My writing is nowhere near being classed as great literature. What bothers me is knowing what I’m capable of writing and then not reaching that level due to the never ending distraction of motherhood. I can’t sit down and write something in peace. So far, 100% of my story was written on the notes app on my phone. I’d say that over 95% of my story was written with Disney Jr. on the TV, or in 5-10 minute increments throughout the span of 2-3 days, or really late at night after everyone else in the house has gone to bed because that’s the only alone time I get.

So, I’m just really hard on myself, that’s all. I constantly compare my undistracted capabilities with my current capabilities. I don’t know how to stop competing with myself.
 

Shh! Don’t tell!

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Yeah, I like when a credible person’s perspective is proven to be unbalanced toward the end, which throws the reader in for a complete mindfuck. Typically, I can foresee a story’s plot line, so I like to be wrong. I always read those novels over again, enjoying it even more the second time. I also like when a protagonist has an obvious flaw in perspective toward others and life. I don’t know why that is.
Some of my favorite novels use that. The truth is that all writers, even when you’re taking on the third person “narrator voice,” have flaws in perspective, so when you create a flawed narrator you’re acknowledging what already happens and maybe becoming more aware of perspective as you write.

Also, I write in notes too, just so it’s not in the same place on my computer as my schoolwork, you know?
 

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