First Person POV: Comprehensive Guide
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 8 min read


  1. What is First Person POV?
  2. How to Write in First Person POV
  3. Advantages of First Person POV
  4. Disadvantages of First Person POV
  5. Tips for Writing in First Person POV
  6. Common Mistakes in First Person POV
  7. Examples of First Person POV in Literature
  8. First Person POV versus Other POVs

Have you ever found yourself lost in the pages of a captivating book, feeling as if you're living the story alongside the protagonist? If so, chances are you were immersed in a narrative crafted from the first person point of view (POV). This unique writing style can bring a story to life in a way that's intimate and personal. But what exactly is this writing style? And how can you master it? Let's dive into the world of first person POV.

What is First Person POV?

In the simplest terms, the first person point of view in writing is a method where the narrator tells the story from their perspective. The definition of first person includes the use of pronouns such as "I," "me," and "my". This point of view gives readers a front-row seat to the narrator's thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It can be a powerful storytelling tool, making the reader feel as if they are inside the narrator's head, experiencing the world as they do.

There are different types of first person POV:

  • First Person Singular: This is the most common form, where the narrator uses pronouns like "I" and "me." For example, "I walked down the empty street, my heart pounding in my chest."
  • First Person Plural: In this form, the narrator speaks for a group using pronouns like "we" and "us." For instance, "We couldn’t believe our eyes when we saw the alien spaceship."

Keep in mind that first person POV isn't just about using certain pronouns—it's about creating a vivid, personal connection between the reader and the narrator. The definition of first person is more than a technical term, it's a way of telling stories that brings readers closer to the characters and the action.

How to Write in First Person POV

Now that we understand the definition of first person, let's look at how to use this perspective effectively. Writing in the first person can feel natural—after all, we use "I" and "me" every day when we talk about ourselves. But it's not as easy as it seems when it comes to storytelling. Here are some tips to help you navigate the first person POV.

1. Choose the Right Character: The character who tells your story is as important as the story itself. Select a character who will provide an interesting and unique perspective on the events. This could be the main character, a side character, or even someone who isn’t directly involved in the action.

2. Use the Right Voice: The character's voice should reflect their personality. Just like in real life, the way a character speaks and thinks can tell a lot about their character. A scholarly character might use complex sentences and big words, while a young character might speak in simpler terms.

3. Show, Don’t Tell: This is a good rule for any kind of writing, but it's especially important in first person POV. Show the readers what's happening through your character's eyes instead of just telling them. Instead of saying "I was scared," describe the character's racing heart, sweaty palms, and the fear gnawing at their insides.

4. Be Mindful of Bias: Remember, your readers are seeing the world through one character's eyes. That character's opinions and perceptions will color everything they see. This can be a powerful tool for creating complex, flawed characters, but it can also limit your story if not handled carefully.

Remember, practice makes perfect. Writing in first person can be challenging, but with time and effort, you can create a narrative that pulls readers into your story and doesn't let go.

Advantages of First Person POV

Now that we're clear on the definition of first person and how to use it, let's explore why you might want to choose this perspective for your story. First person POV has several advantages that can add depth and intimacy to your writing.

1. Creates a Direct Connection: When a character speaks directly to the reader, it creates a special bond. This connection can make the reader feel more involved in the story and more invested in the character's journey.

2. Allows for Unique Voice: First person POV lets you showcase your character's unique voice and personality. This can make your character more relatable and memorable to your readers.

3. Adds Depth to the Character: With first person POV, readers get an in-depth look at the character's thoughts, feelings, and motivations. This can help create complex, three-dimensional characters that feel real.

4. Increases Tension and Suspense: Because the readers only know what the narrator knows, this can increase the tension and suspense in your story. Readers will be on the edge of their seats, waiting to see what happens next.

In short, first person POV can be a powerful tool for creating engaging, character-driven stories. But like any tool, it needs to be used with care and skill. In the next section, we'll look at some of the challenges of writing in first person POV.

Disadvantages of First Person POV

While the first person POV can be a potent tool in storytelling, it's not without its challenges. Here are some of the pitfalls that you may run into while crafting a narrative from the first person perspective.

1. Limited Perspective: In first person POV, the reader is confined to the narrator's perspective. This means they only know what the narrator knows, sees, and feels. While this can be used to create suspense, it can also limit the scope of your story.

2. Risk of Monotony: Since everything is filtered through a single viewpoint, there can be a risk of monotony. You have to work harder to keep your narrative engaging and diverse.

3. Difficulty in Character Development: It can be challenging to develop other characters in your story as the readers only get to see them through the eyes of your narrator. Their opinions and perceptions might not give a full picture of the other characters.

4. Narrative Bias: Your narrator might be biased, unreliable or even dishonest. This can confuse readers or lead them to doubt the credibility of the narrative.

In conclusion, while the first person POV can make your story more intimate and personal, it does come with its share of challenges. It's crucial to be aware of these potential pitfalls so you can navigate them effectively in your writing.

Tips for Writing in First Person POV

Now that we've established the definition of first person POV and its potential pitfalls, let's look at some handy tips to craft a compelling first person narrative.

1. Make Your Character Interesting: The readers are going to spend a lot of time in your character's head, so make sure they're engaging. Develop a unique voice that reflects their personality and keeps readers hooked.

2. Leverage the Limitations: Instead of seeing the limited perspective as a drawback, use it to your advantage. Create suspense by keeping some information away from your narrator and thus, the readers.

3. Avoid Overuse of "I": While it's inevitable in first person POV, overuse of "I" can lead to repetitive and monotonous prose. Mix up your sentence structures to keep the narrative fresh.

4. Show, Don't Tell: This is a classic writing advice, but it's especially important in first person POV. Instead of telling readers what the narrator is feeling, show it through their actions and dialogue.

5. Keep It Real: The first person POV is all about intimacy and authenticity. Keep the narrative voice consistent and believable to maintain reader's trust.

Remember, the first person POV is a powerful tool when used effectively. These tips should help you create a compelling, immersive and authentic narrative that your readers will love.

Common Mistakes in First Person POV

Still scratching your head over the definition of first person POV? No worries, it's a tricky concept. But what's trickier is avoiding the common pitfalls that come with it. Let's dive into some common mistakes to avoid when writing in first person POV:

1. Overuse of "I": As we touched on earlier, over-reliance on "I" can make your prose sound repetitive. It's important to balance your sentence structure to prevent this from happening.

2. Inconsistency in Voice: In first person POV, it's vital to keep the narrator's voice consistent throughout the story. Any sudden shifts can confuse your readers and break their trust.

3. Telling Instead of Showing: Remember, your readers want to experience the story, not just be told it. Use sensory language and concrete details to make your scenes more vivid.

4. Information Dumping: It can be tempting to use your narrator to explain everything to the readers. But remember, subtlety is key. Let your readers discover things on their own and keep them engaged.

5. Lack of Character Development: Just because your narrator is telling the story, doesn't mean they shouldn't grow as a character. Make sure your narrator has a clear arc and develops throughout the narrative.

Avoiding these common mistakes will help you master the art of first person POV. Remember, practice makes perfect. Keep writing, keep learning, and soon you'll be creating brilliant first person narratives!

Examples of First Person POV in Literature

Imagine you're reading a book where the main character details their thoughts, feelings, and experiences directly to you. That's the magic of first person POV! Now that we've nailed down the definition of first person, let's look at some examples in literature that really bring this point of view to life.

"The Catcher in the Rye" by J.D. Salinger: This classic novel is narrated by Holden Caulfield, a teenager with a unique perspective on the world. Through his eyes, we experience his feelings of alienation, his critiques of societal norms, and his deep longing for connection.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee: Who could forget Scout Finch? Her innocent and insightful voice narrates this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, taking us through racial tensions and innocences lost in the 1930s American South.

"The Great Gatsby" by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Through Nick Carraway's first person POV, we get a front row seat to the decadence and disillusionment of the Roaring Twenties. His account of Jay Gatsby's ill-fated dream is both compelling and heartbreaking.

"I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou: Angelou's autobiographical account captures her experiences of racism and trauma with depth and grace. Her first person narrative is both powerful and inspiring.

These are just a few examples of the power and versatility of first person POV in literature. It's a point of view that allows us to step into a character's shoes, see the world through their eyes, and experience their journey firsthand. So next time you pick up a book, pay attention to the point of view - it might just enhance your reading experience!

First Person POV versus Other POVs

Now that we've explored the definition of first person and seen it in action, let's compare it to other points of view. Remember, choosing the right POV can make all the difference in your story.

First Person POV vs. Second Person POV: While first person POV takes us inside a character's mind and emotions, second person POV puts you, the reader, into the story. It's like being in a video game where the narrative is directing your actions: "You walk into the room. You see a mysterious box on the table."

First Person POV vs. Third Person Limited POV: In a third person limited POV, the narrator is outside of the story and focuses on one character's experiences. It's similar to first person POV, but it offers a little more distance between the reader and the character.

First Person POV vs. Third Person Omniscient POV: The third person omniscient narrator is like a bird flying high above the story, able to see and know everything about all characters. This is a stark contrast to first person POV which is limited to a single character's perspective.

Each of these points of view has its strengths and weaknesses, and the choice between them depends on the story you want to tell. Do you want your readers to feel an immediate, intimate connection with your protagonist? Then first person POV might be your best bet. But if you want to explore multiple characters' thoughts and experiences, you might prefer third person POV.

Ultimately, the POV you choose can shape how your readers experience your story, so choose wisely!

If you enjoyed this comprehensive guide on writing in the first person POV and want to explore more about perspectives in storytelling, we highly recommend the workshop 'A New Perspective on Perspective' by Roberto Bernal. This workshop will provide you with valuable insights and techniques to master different narrative perspectives and enhance your storytelling skills.