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Curious about your opinions on stories written in first person

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happily_married

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That's technically referred to as the "historic present". It's often used for dramatic effect, as it brings the narrative to life because it treats the past as now. It also sound very colloquial and so brings the narrator vividly to life. In ghost stories, mysteries and thrillers it can enhance the atmosphere. It has the reader on edge and watching out for ghosts and villains. Such a use of the present historic gives a sense of urgency to the narrative. "I've got to let other people know about this, before it/they get me..."
i agree. In a first person piece writing in present tense lends a sense of urgency to the work. I recently completed an early draft of a piece that is nearly 8000 words in present tense. I can’t write full length novels in present tense, I eventually give myself problems with the verb tense. But short pieces I can do and actually really like it. When I was writing fantasy/fetish stuff I used a lot of first person present tense.

i also use it as a way to introduce the story. Like the beginning scene and closing scene in present tense and the middle in past tense. I’m actually working on one like that now.

I’m working on a lot actually. When I lose momentum I just shift to another one and keep the rotation going until I have a complete story.
 

Corey

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@Corey

that was hilarious! DI’d you read those books ever? They in print from the late 70s through the late 90s as far as I know.

And as I read “my” adventure I couldn’t help but feel a subtle inclination on your part to fatten me up! 😜
🤣 No, I’ve never read the series. My son has something similar and WITHOUT fail, he will choose the scariest or most dangerous path. He did something completely irresponsible the other day and my daughter said, “Do you like danger?!” And I swear, his eyes lit up faster than they should have...he was like “Yeah! I do, I do!” He thought she was asking him if he wanted to do something dangerous, and he got really psyched about it. 😂
 

happily_married

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@Corey
When I would read those I’d be getting chase by a vampire or something in the Transylvanian mountains and come upon a choice:

Take the higher road: turn to page 28

take the lower road turn to page 35

so I’d pick the higher road and there would be a picture of bats swarming my character as he stumbles off a cliff to his death! And I’d be like “fuck that I’m going back to the lower road!” Yeah. I’d cheat!😎😏
 

Shotha

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i agree. In a first person piece writing in present tense lends a sense of urgency to the work. I recently completed an early draft of a piece that is nearly 8000 words in present tense. I can’t write full length novels in present tense, I eventually give myself problems with the verb tense. But short pieces I can do and actually really like it. When I was writing fantasy/fetish stuff I used a lot of first person present tense.

i also use it as a way to introduce the story. Like the beginning scene and closing scene in present tense and the middle in past tense. I’m actually working on one like that now.

I’m working on a lot actually. When I lose momentum I just shift to another one and keep the rotation going until I have a complete story.
The reason why you can't write full length novels in the present tense is probably that it would be unrealistic. A real life narrator would have to take breaks for eating and sleeping. Now you're giving me ideas. I'm toying with the idea of a fat gluttonous narrator taking breaks between narrative sessions.
 

Shotha

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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?
That's an interesting point. Narrators (including authors) are flawed. It also accounts for why we are so critical of our own work. Even when we write a story, which others praise lavishly, we are aware of the flaws, because we are aware of the target that we're aiming at.
 
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happily_married

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Let’s just all write shitty** stories together. We can be the shitty story crew, you in?

**But actually try our hardest, and just pretend like we don’t care.
That would actually be a little fun. Abandon all sense of what we write and just do the most whimsical stuff that comes to mind! I bet we’d still have some pure gold!
 

Shh! Don’t tell!

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The reason why you can't write full length novels in the present tense is probably that it would be unrealistic. A real life narrator would have to take breaks for eating and sleeping. Now you're giving me ideas. I'm toying with the idea of a fat gluttonous narrator taking breaks between narrative sessions.
The Hunger Games uses first person present tense and because the plot hinges on eating enough to not starve and finding safe places to sleep in a life or death situation I think it works. I haven’t read it since I was thirteen, though, so I might be remembering it as better then it was.

Another way to do first person is an epistolary novel, like Dracula, which is a collection of multiple characters journals and letters to each other. There’s a newspaper article in there too, I think. You get more perspectives then in a straight forward first person which is great.
 

happily_married

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The Hunger Games uses first person present tense and because the plot hinges on eating enough to not starve and finding safe places to sleep in a life or death situation I think it works. I haven’t read it since I was thirteen, though, so I might be remembering it as better then it was.

Another way to do first person is an epistolary novel, like Dracula, which is a collection of multiple characters journals and letters to each other. There’s a newspaper article in there too, I think. You get more perspectives then in a straight forward first person which is great.
a lot of first person novels do switch perspectives throughout. Like I mentioned James Patterson earlier, he’s mastered that technique. And has sold tens of millions of books, so obviously there’s a place for it!😃
 

Shotha

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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.
Don't worry about the "rules". The "rules" were not created for us to write by. They are classifications of writing genres made by literary critics and comments on what they think is good or bad writing. The "rules" are not jellymoulds for good writing; they are classifications of existing writing. As far as I'm concerned, if I write a piece and just one person likes it, that's successful writing.
 

stevita

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I always write in 3rd limited because I find it so much more difficult to write in 1st without sounding repetitive. But you are doing a great job! I think it helps that you write in both Brooke's and Zach's perspective, so you're better poised to make the reader aware of everything that is happening in the story while still maintaining the intimacy of seeing directly through the characters' perspective.
 

Corey

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I always write in 3rd limited because I find it so much more difficult to write in 1st without sounding repetitive. But you are doing a great job! I think it helps that you write in both Brooke's and Zach's perspective, so you're better poised to make the reader aware of everything that is happening in the story while still maintaining the intimacy of seeing directly through the characters' perspective.
Thank you for the encouragement. :) I also think it’s easier since I’m writing from 2 perspectives. It’s been fun!
 

maltesefalcon

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a lot of first person novels do switch perspectives throughout. Like I mentioned James Patterson earlier, he’s mastered that technique. And has sold tens of millions of books, so obviously there’s a place for it!😃
We could have a competition to see who can write the excruciatingly worst short story.
How about this for a contender:

Once upon a time I knew this girl who was really skinny. Then she got fat. We all laughed.
The End
 

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