"The central narrator is always, as the term implies, at the center of the action..."
(Burroway & Stuckey-French, 2007, p. 301)
I sat down one night not too long ago and read my Work-in-Progress (WIP) because I had been typing and typing but not really reading it as a whole.
When I finished, I realized the action was there, but because it was past tense, it seemed so long ago. I knew something had to change if I wanted my reader to be caught up in the action.
I knew what had to be changed was the point-of-view.
Changing the WIP from third person past to first person past wasn't so hard. But changing it from first person past to first person present was another thing.
I had to become my character. I had to create her voice in the immediate. I had to picture her reactions and hear her thoughts as the action happened to her.
It was a challenge....but it also was fun!
I must admit that when I first starting reading The Hunger Games, I found the first person present to be distracting. It had been awhile since I had read that tense before and it took some getting used to.
But what really made me decide to switch to first person present was when I read The Help.
Switch it Up
What drew me into The Help was the shifting point-of-view of the characters. I loved it because I had seen the movie so I could almost see the characters as they spoke. Because the shift from one character to the next, I felt the story move along faster and the action seemed more immediate.
That was exactly what I needed for my book, The Warfare Club.
"A story is told in the first person when one of its characters relates the story's actions and events..." -Writing Fiction, p. 300.
Now my story moves along at a faster pace because the action is immediate and it is happening to the main character from the start. There are limitations, but I find them to be minimal.
I can create her voice then switch to another character and create her voice on down the line. Now my readers can relate to the characters as they encounter these obstacles.
This is so exciting for me now!
I didn't want this story to be about someone else. I didn't want the story to be about an event that happened long ago.
I wanted it to seem as though a person is telling you their story as it is happening to them because it is that interesting. I want my readers to follow along through the challenges and obstacles and see how the character changes.
Now I have a set formula for this seven book series. Sometimes the narrator will be the main character and other times it may be a peripheral character. It's up to me to decide.
That's what makes writing fun!
Your turn: What point-of-view did you choose for your story and why? Have you ever tried first person present?