Tips for writing in first person

kyen_

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I have some questions about writing in first person

1 - How to describe actions in a good way?

2 - How to describe emotions in a good way?

3 - How to describe dialogues in a good way?

4 - How to describe a scenario in a good way?

5 - How to detail appearances in a good way?

6 - How to describe details in a good way?

7 - Are there any mandatory rules?

8 - Should I describe emotions before actions in a sentence? Or the other way around?

I think these are the main questions that confuse me the most, I would appreciate it if you could answer any of them
 

BlackKnightX

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If you wanna write in 1st person POV, the first and most important thing you should consider about is the “character’s voice”. You have to know their voice, get in their head, and tell a story from there. You have to know how they talk, how they think, the kind of language they use—oh, and their attitude is very important.

For example: if the character is a lively kid, their way of thinking, talking, and describing things will be lively and maybe even hilarious. If the character is a stern college professor, then their voice will be serious and dry. Different characters should have different voices. That’s the most important thing in 1st person POV writing.
 

K5Rakitan

Level 32 👪 💍 Pronouns: she/whore ♀
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1 - How to describe actions in a good way?

2 - How to describe emotions in a good way?

3 - How to describe dialogues in a good way?

4 - How to describe a scenario in a good way?

5 - How to detail appearances in a good way?

6 - How to describe details in a good way?
Carefully
 

Aimzay

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I have some questions about writing in first person

1 - How to describe actions in a good way?

2 - How to describe emotions in a good way?

3 - How to describe dialogues in a good way?

4 - How to describe a scenario in a good way?

5 - How to detail appearances in a good way?

6 - How to describe details in a good way?

7 - Are there any mandatory rules?

8 - Should I describe emotions before actions in a sentence? Or the other way around?

I think these are the main questions that confuse me the most, I would appreciate it if you could answer any of them
I don’t know how to describe it, but I’ll try:
1. Just imagine yourself as the character, and try to think of how you would describe it.
2.Try to use vivid imagery
3. Simulate it in your head, imo try to go for something genuinely realistic and how you think someone would react in that situation
4.unsure
5. Give detail on unique or features that enhance/decrease charm
6.unsure how to describe
7.No, not really(based on experience, might be different for others)
8. Either is fine
Opinions vary, so do what you want I guess!
 

AliceShiki

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1 - How to describe actions in a good way?
Same as 3rd person.

Depending on the situation, you might want to say "I saw [Character] do [Action]", but this probably not something you'll want to use often. Especially not in action scenes.

Might be more interesting when like, your Main Character sees someone hide something.
2 - How to describe emotions in a good way?
You're narrating from the perspective of a character, so the emotions of your MC can just be shown through their internal monologue. It isn't too hard in all honesty.

When someone else is sad/angry though, you're gonna have to describe it from the perspective of the MC, like... Describe how the other person was crying, or gritting their teeth, or something like that.
3 - How to describe dialogues in a good way?
Same as 3rd person, but when the MC talks, you'd use "I said" instead of "[Character] said."
4 - How to describe a scenario in a good way?
Same as 3rd person.

At most, you might also highlight the things that pulled the attention of the MC the most, in case there is anything.

Like, if your MC is from a poor family, they might be particularly impressed by how tall the ceiling of a noble house is, or by how shiny their decorations are... Showing how those things are notable to the MC might be a good idea, but... If there is nothing particularly note-worthy for the MC, then it's no different than 3rd person description.
5 - How to detail appearances in a good way?
Same as above. Do the same things as you'd do in 3rd person narrative, but highlight the points that stand out for the MC.

... And try to not make your main character look like a pervert, I guess. Unless you want the MC to be a pervert that is. Focusing too much on the breasts of the main love interest would be annoying to read about.
6 - How to describe details in a good way?
Same as the last two questions.
7 - Are there any mandatory rules?
No.

My suggestion though, would be to try to make the most use of the writing style you chose. You are narrating everything from the perspective of the main character, so... Showing the MC's feelings and emotions in all occasions should be your priority IMO.
8 - Should I describe emotions before actions in a sentence? Or the other way around?
Whichever you prefer. Depends on the scene itself and on what feels better for you.
 

Ai-chan

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I have some questions about writing in first person



I think these are the main questions that confuse me the most, I would appreciate it if you could answer any of them
1 - How to describe actions in a good way?
Any action that can be perceived by a single man. Your protagonist is not omniscient, don't pretend he is. Put yourself in his shoes and don't include anything he couldn't possibly know. For example, it is not possible for him to know what the opponent is thinking. So don't bother including it.

2 - How to describe emotions in a good way?
Expressedly and vividly. You're using first person, the readers are the protagonist. Lay out the waterworks, the biases, the one-sided selfish thoughts and the protagonist's feelings. Make it very, super clear. Take advantage of first person.

3 - How to describe dialogues in a good way?
It's first person, which means monologues do not need 'he says' or 'she says'. You can summarize the dialogues when it becomes too wordy or boring. When someone talks to you in length about something super boring that makes you want to doze off, you'd just tune it out, right? So why bother putting the readers in that situation? Make it interesting, or if you can't make it interesting, just summarize it. Your readers will appreciate it.

4 - How to describe a scenario in a good way?
Through bias. Your protagonist is not a god. Describe it in a way that a lone person can perceive.

5 - How to detail appearances in a good way?
By looking at them. If you don't know how this is done. Go out and just look at people. Then do a mental exercise of how you would describe them based on what you can see. If you can do that, you're good to go. After all, you are looking at them through first person point of view.

6 - How to describe details in a good way?
Through bias. First person is not an omniscient POV. Details are restricted based on what a person can see, hear, touch and perceive. So get rid of those magical descriptions and miraculous details that the person shouldn't be able to know.

7 - Are there any mandatory rules?
Don't use omniscience. Don't drink and drive. Don't handle guns while under the influence. Worship Ai-chan.

8 - Should I describe emotions before actions in a sentence? Or the other way around?
Why would you want to do either? Don't clutter your sentence.
"I let out a tear as I breathed in much needed air for my struggling lungs and muscles. Yet the opponent wouldn't relent. So out of breath and out of stamina, I raised my sword again to deflect the attack. My success was temporary, as I knew there would be no respite for my spent body."
is much better than
"My tears fell as I tiredly deflected the enemy's attack with my sword."
Yes, neither is very good because Ai-chan thought this out in like 2 minutes. It's just an example.
 
Last edited:

CarburetorThompson

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Using simile and metaphor is a good way to help express the pov character. When a character uses is a simile they are only gonna be able to relate to things they've experienced. In a fantasy setting someone wouldn't say "it was like an electric guitar" but they might say "it was like a lyre."
 

skillet

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Hello! :) Aplogies in advance, I am currently procrastinating so naturally this reply is going to be longer than necessary. :D

***Before anything else, I would seriously and strongly recommend reading as much of first person narrations as possible. Start with juvenile fiction books if need be (like Percy Jackson) and consciously observe what the authors do, and how they do things differently. Taking mental or physical notes of "oh that's how they managed to describe this!" is an enormous help: think of it as adding new tools to your mental writing toolkit. Especially when it comes to describing actions, whether to write emotion or action first, etc. etc. in "good" ways, you will most probably learn most from seeing how others have done it before you. :)

That being said, as people above me have already responded lengthily of your questions, here are some more general ways to think about writing:
- It might be helpful to think of descriptions (be it actions, appearances, scenes) as the mental camera lens through which the reader will see the world. Describe things around what you want the reader to remember from what would be the equivalent of a scene from a movie: the flashing diamond on that lady's neck? Her dark blue stiletto heels as she slips out of them? Where is the imaginary camera shot focusing on, or lingering on for whatever significance there might be? (Especially for first person POVs, your 'camera lens' is additionally your character. What is your character focusing on, noting, or drawn to?)
- You can also approach writing descriptions like you would art styles: some artists have very big, rough strokes that paint an impression rather than all the details, some have their scenes drawn to the smallest detail, and others have mixtures of both. What kind of visual do you want to leave the reader with? You could choose to "paint" your backgrounds with any style you want, though a good general rule of thumb (in both art and writing!) is to have a good balance of what you emphasize and what you don't. Just like how artists use line thickness variation and save flashier, more glaring colors for the bits they want to highlight, you can think of your descriptions the same way, giving what is more important (to the plot, to that particular scene, or to the character) comparatively more detail or emphasis.
- Lastly, this is not a rule but another general practice: if you want to describe something about the location or the character without feeling like you're info-dumping, one way (a tool, if you will) you can use is incorporate action into that description. Have the character interact with it, have someone else mention it (because it somehow relates to their backstory, maybe), or include it into a part of the plot somehow. Sometimes this will create a whole new unplanned arc in the story (ahahahhahhah) that you may have to write because this makes you discover new things about some of your side characters, but it's still an option. Use sparingly, of course.

Oh, and for dialogue: I've heard it is helpful to go out in public (safely!!) and just let other people's conversations sort of wash over you, so you can hear how people speak in real life. Reading your dialogue out loud can help catch any awkwardness as well, and giving your characters distinct voices (not in a super over the top way-- more like how there are some people out there who use 'like' in their sentences constantly) is another generally good practice.

Also, as a general grammatical rule, every time a new character speaks, please press enter and put it on a new line. It makes it less confusing on who is talking. Unless it's for deliberate literary artistic whatever purposes, I'd say the number one rule should be that your writing should be understandable above everything else, so. :))

I don't know if this will help, but ah well. Good luck! And more importantly, have fun!
 

Yairy

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Always remember the MC doesn't have eyes everywhere. They only experience what they are experiencing. It sounds common sense but it's the most valuable advice I could give you.

Have fun!
 
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