First Person

By: Aryanne Ferguson

One of the reasons why I love my mom is that she encouraged me to read. In elementary school, she’d order books from the Scholastic fliers my teachers sent me home with. She took me and my 3 siblings to the library regularly throughout my K-12 years. She let me read any book I wanted. And more than just love, I respect her. One day, she casually mentioned that she didn’t like reading books written in the first person. I didn’t write a story in first person for the next ten years.

Let’s talk about first person, Reader. I used my mom’s words as an excuse not to write in first person because it intimidates me. First person means knowing my character so well that I write their thoughts, that I include details only they would notice. Meanwhile, I find it nearly impossible to discover the truths I’m hiding from myself, and God only knows the lies I tell myself every day. So how am I supposed to know that much about a person I imagined into existence? Writing a story in a voice not my own, knowing what this stranger knows, and at the same time knowing more about them than they do about themselves – that seemed like an overwhelming task to me. Daunting. Unachievable.

I’m an over-thinker, Reader. Some days it takes me hours to stop thinking as I write, and start writing from emotion.  And first person is a point of view that calls for writing from emotion. The first person story sees only its own point of view. The world according to Elton John is a different from the world according to your grandmother. Chances are, they each have different priorities, different life experiences, and different opinions on the same issues. The story that’s your grandmother feels is important enough to tell is not the same story Elton John would tell. As long as you keep that in mind, Reader, you will have a lot of fun with first person writing.

How do you get to know the people behind your first person stories?

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