Writing Prompt: First Person Story

Some people love first person some people hate it. Either way you’re using it today.

[Listen to me talk about this prompt on Anchor.fm]

The Prompt

Write a story in the first person

Tips

May 15 Limits: First Person

The Prompt

Write A Story In the First Person

We’re on the cusp of the half-way point through the year. After you’ve written your story today, could you come back to the blog and post about one thing that you have learned/that has surprised you/that you’ve remembered, while attempting the challenge, please? Do this whether you’re still writing, whether you think you’ve quit (but really you know you’re going to come back and write at least one more story this month, don’t you?), or whether you’ve missed a few day, but written a few stories too.

What are you learning about your writing, your routine, your voice, the importance of turning up? Or is there something else you’ve discovered?

This week we’re starting a week of limits: point of view, mostly. Trying out all these different forms will give you an idea of what stories call for which perspective, and which you’re most comfortable with.

Today, first person. This is probably the easiest voice to find, since this is how we tell most of our stories in every day life(“I went to that new restaurant in town and you’ll never guess who I saw there…”)

The Prompt

Write A Story In the First Person

Tips

  • Remember that only the thoughts and observations of your “I” character can be presented as fact. No ‘head-hopping’ allowed!
  • The protagonist can make assumptions and judgements about the things around them. They can comment on how they think another character is feeling, but they cannot say it definitively.
  • This mono-focus is one of the great features of the First Person story: it is highly subjective and immediate. It has a built in “show, don’t tell” factor.
  • If you don’t often write in the first person, pick up almost any middle grade novel (that is, something for kids younger than the Hunger Games crowd, but older than the chapter-book-with-illustrations crowd) and you’ll see how it’s done. The protagonist is talking to the reader. It’s the running commentary inside their head. It’s also a favorite of “chick lit” and noir.
  • I don’t know about you, but in my head I’m much less kind, understanding and tolerant than I try to be when I open my mouth. Allow your character to lose the civilized filter that we apply between brain and mouth. Allow them to be less (or more) than their image would suggest.
  • Don’t forget to give the reader a reason to care. Give your protagonist a flaw and an endearing quality. For example, Amelia Peabody  is no-nonsense feminist archaeologist at the turn of the 20th Century, in the (mostly) first-person mystery series by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia is astoundingly arrogant about her own intellectual prowess and impatient with anyone who considers her femininity before her intelligence. She is, however, saved from being unlikeable by her hopeless, romantic devotion to her brilliant — and very manly — husband, Emerson.  She never admits this as a weakness, but the contrast between her professed opinions and her actions/reactions provides a rich vein of humor in the series. It also illustrates her character much more clearly than her own words ever could.
  • Try writing this story for one person in particular, to help you find the voice. Imagine you’re writing it for your sister, your son, or your best friend.

GO!

Post a comment at the blog to let us know you’ve written today, or join the community and post in the Victory Dance Group.

[Writing Prompt] Putting ‘I’ First

This week we’re going to be playing with point of view. It’s easy to get stuck writing from the same perspective in every story. To break you of that habit, we’re going to be trying the all this week! Feel free to write the same story over and over again, this week, playing with perspective.

The Prompt

Write A Story Told In The First Person

Tips

  • First person is relatively easy because it’s how we tell all our stories in every day life (“Oh, you’ll never believe what happened on the way in this morning! I was standing in the line for coffee, and …”)
  • Because your story is all from the perspective of one person, we can never know what any other character is thinking. We can know what the “I” character thinks another person is thinking, but remember that this is always colored by the protagonist’s feelings about the issue and the other person.
  • Grab a book off your shelf to see how this is done: check-lit and Young Adult are often written in First Person. If you have a copy of To Kill A Mockingbird, Jane Eyre, Gulliver’s Travels or The Great Gatsby, pull them off the shelf and see how First Person was handled by the masters.

GO!

[Writing Prompt] First Person Practice

I/Eye illustrationWriting in the first person seems simple, since this is the way we talk, write letters, tell our own stories. Introduce a keyboard or a notebook, however, and suddenly we get a bit frozen. So today we’re practicing telling a First Person story

The Prompt

Write A Story Narrated In The First Person

Tips

  • Go and grab a book from your shelf that has a strong main character and that is written in the first person. (Think Bridget Jones’ Diary or Elizabeth Peters’ Amelia Peabody series or any number of great stories)
  • Remember that in First Person, no head-hopping is allowed. You cannot tell us what any other character is feeling, only how your narrator perceives their words/actions.
  • Decide on one characteristic (or character flaw) that your character will have. Subvert it (or have it get them into trouble) at least once during the story, but try to make it a defining part of the story.

Go!

[Writing Prompt] First Person POV

You’ve done it! You’ve made it to the end of the first week! I hope you’ve met or come close to your goals. But if not, this is the perfect time to sit back and figure out what went ‘wrong’, what you can learn from it and how to press forward.

And now, on to today’s prompt.

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, writing in third-person, or first person, or inside or outside your character’s heads. So this week we’re shaking things up. Ready?

The Prompt

Write A Story Using The First Person Voice

Tips

  • The whole thing should be told in the “I” voice.
  • It should, for preference,  be a story about something that happened/is happening to the person telling the story.
  • When writing in the first person you can never allow your narrative to stray inside another character’s head. The “I” character can speculate about what other people are thinking, but everything must come from their perspective.

Go!

And when you have written your story, log in and post your success in The Victory Dance group or simply comment on this post and let the congrats come flying in.

[Prompt] May 21 – 1st Person

This week’s prompts are all going to focus on Point Of View.

 

It’s easy to get stuck in a rut, writing in third-person, or first person, or inside or outside your character’s heads. So this week we’re shaking things up. Ready?

Write A Story Using The First Person Voice

The whole thing should be told in the “I” voice, and preferably should be a story about something that happened/is happening to the person telling the story.

Go!

[Write On Wednesday] – The Ambiguous Protagonist

I/Eye illustrationMy nine-year-old son recently volunteered that he hates “I” stories, because you can’t know the main character’s name until someone else says it.

I found it interesting that he finds this lack of information about a character annoying. Perhaps I did, at age nine. Now, however, I enjoy the gaps in a short story, in the descriptions. I relish the mystery, the sense of discovery. Sometimes the discovery is simply the true character of the protagonist. Sometimes, the character turns out to be not human at all.

The Prompt

Write a story in which the reader does not know a key piece of information about one of the characters. It can be as simple as making the story a first-person narrative, or you can offer a twist in the tale.

Tips

  • Don’t worry about your audience and who might read it
  • Make sure your story travels from start to end: don’t just write a scene, make someone or something change between the first word and the last.

The Rules:

  1. You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
  2. You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
  3. Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
  4. Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!

Optional Extras:

Share this challenge on Twitter or Facebook

Some tweets/updates you might use:

Don’t miss my short story about the a mysterious character:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-oJ

This week’s #WriteOnWed short story prompt is “the ambiguous protagonist”! #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-oJ

Come and write with us:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-oJ

See my story – and write your own, today:  #WriteOnWed #storyaday http://wp.me/p1PnSG-oJ

If you would like to be the Guest Prompter, click here.