This StoryADay writing prompt encourages you to try an older story from a new poing of view
Re-write yesterday’s story, in a different point-of view.
Keep the same protagonist, but take us into a different voice.
Where, yesterday, you might have written, “I slammed the door as I left, hearing a muffled ‘hey!’ from behind it. But seriously, how could he have said such a thing, and expected me to stay?” today you might write it from the third-person, limited point of view, which would read like this: “she slammed the door as she left, hearing a muffled ‘Get back here!’ from behind it. But seriously, how could he have said such a thing and expected her to stay?”
Notice how similar third-person limited is to first person? We’re still experiencing the thoughts of only one person. We are very closely aligned with their thoughts and feelings. We don’t need the writer to say ‘she thought’, because it’s always clear whose thoughts we are in.
The advantage of third person is that you can use a line break to indicate a perspective shift and hop inside another character’s head.
“She slammed the door as she left.” # The walls shook as the door hit the frame. He yelped with a surprise that quickly turned to anger. Half out of his chair, he yelled “Get back here”. The only answer was the click of her heels on the wood of the stairs and the echoing slam of the front door. A wave of shame pushed him back into the sagging armchair. How could have have said those things to her and expected her to stay? # The air outside was icy and cut into her lungs like broken glass. Where would she go now? Surely anywhere was better than here. Fresh snow crunched under the ridiculous heels he had insisted she always wear … — You can stay in one person’s perspective or jump around, just remember, which ever head you’re in, that’s the one the reader will identify most closely with. It’s best not to jump around too much and leave your reader seasick!
Julie Duffy likes to write in first person but appreciates the opportunities afforded by third. If she is being honest, what she really loves is a really well done third-person omniscient story as employed by Messers Dickens and Pratchett. You can read more StoryADay Point of View writing prompts here.
Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!
In today’s StoryADay writing prompt, we’re working with first person perspective
Write a story in the first person about an incident that happens to a character who is your opposite.
Think about some situation you are sure you would FREAK OUT in, and give it to a character who is utterly unlike you (in some ways you admire, and perhaps some ways you don’t)
In many ways, first person is the most natural way to tell a story because it’s how we tell stories all day long. “How was your commute?” “Where did you park?” “What did you do this weekend?”
All of these questions invite stories.
The most important thing to remember about first-person is that the reader is only ever privy to the thoughts of the person telling the story. They can infer, from other people other people’s expressions, what they’re feeling, but you can’t know for certain. You can’t tell me exactly what your spouse was thinking when you took a wrong turn. You can tell me what they said and how they said it….
The character can be self-aware or self delusional or mixture of the two.
I am Julie Duffy and this is a first-person bio. I founded StoryADay May in 2010 because I was stick of never finishing anything I started. Ironically, StoryADay May turned into an annual event and now I hope it will never end! I also encourage people to make weekly goals during the rest of the year, in our Serious Writers’ Accountability Group posts. If you’d like email reminders about them, fill in the form, below.
Join the discussion: what will you do with today’s prompt OR how did it go? Need support? Post here!
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…”)
Write A Story In the First Person
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.
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.
Write A Story Told In The First Person
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.
Writing 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
Write A Story Narrated In The First Person
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.
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?
Write A Story Using The First Person Voice
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.
My 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.
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.
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.
You should use the prompt in your story (however tenuous the connection).
You must write the story in one 24 hr period – the faster the better.
Post the story in the comments — if you’re brave enough.
Find something nice to say about someone else’s story and leave a comment. Everybody needs a little support!
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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
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