Reply To: First Person Present

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions First Person Present Reply To: First Person Present



Whether you’ve written first-person present or not, do you have any tips for writing it? Any common mistakes you see people commit?

Okay, as you know I primarily write first-person past tense with interludes of third-person past tense.

The biggest differences are psychic distance, voice, and unreliability.

You already have all of these things in third-person limited, there’s an even larger focus on it in first-person.

Your psychic distance is going to be really close, you can even afford some more introspection if you feel like it. There’s really never too much in first-person, as long as it’s interesting.

You’re already good at voice, but in first-person that’s even more of a focus.

Also, your narrator will be ridiculously unreliable. They might even say something that’s outright untrue because their opinion is so subjective.

Secondly, what are your thoughts on a first person present book with a few third person past interludes and possibly an epilogue? I’ve never seen a book with both past and present tense. Is that two jarring/strange? I wanted a few small scenes from another PoV, but I didn’t want those scenes to be first person, and third person present seems kinda strange. What would you do? Third person present as well?

I really like using a few chapters from different points of view. I think it depends on how important these characters are. If you have one clear main character in first person, I’d do the others in third-person. However, if they’re all equally important, you could do them in first-person as well.

I wouldn’t change the tenses unless it was actually happening in the past, otherwise, it’ll definitely get confusing.

Third-person present is unusual, but it’s not that it can’t be done. I believe Shaelin has a writing video on this specifically, she really likes using third-person present. It’s a more unusual choice but the alternative is confusing.

Otherwise, you can make both past tense. It’s always an option.

I don’t think I really told you anything new, but I hope it helps!

Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

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