Today I’ll answer two different readers who’ve asked questions on writing a novel in first person.
Crystal posted this question on my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page:
Hi, I am currently trying to write a first person chapter book and it’s going well, but I feel like I’m using “I” too much when I’m writing. Is it okay to use “I” over and over again?
Randy sez: Yes, that’s pretty much your only option.
Read a good novel written in first person. For example, The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. The protagonist uses “I” all over the place. Did you notice? Neither did I. The pronoun “I” is pretty much invisible. Use it whenever you need it. If you don’t need it, don’t use it.
Deb posted this question on my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page:
If I am writing in 1st person for my main protagonist, what do I do when that person isn’t in a particular chapter. Thank you.
Randy sez: That’s a problem, but only if it you let it be a problem. In scenes where your protagonist is missing, you’ll have to choose a different character to be your point-of-view character. (Because every scene needs a POV character.) The question is really how you handle those other POV characters—should you write them in first-person or third-person? You don’t want to confuse your reader.
Most novels are written in third person. Most of them have multiple characters who serve as POV characters in different scenes. Nobody gets confused by this.
So what prevents you from having more than one first-person POV character in different scenes of your novel?
If you do this, you need some way to let the reader know who the POV character is for each scene. An easy way to do that is to make a subtitle for each scene showing the name of the POV character. For example, “Luke” or “Leia” or “Darth Vader.” Center this in its own line and italicize it if that looks better to you. Then the reader knows who “I” is for every scene.
Or you can write in first-person in scenes where your protagonist is the POV character, and you can switch to third-person in scenes having other POV characters. Diana Gabaldon did that in her novel Dragonfly in Amber, and nobody got confused.
If you’ve got a question you’d like me to answer in public on this blog, hop on over to my “Ask A Question For My Blog” page and submit your question. I’ll answer the ones I can, but no guarantees. There are only so many hours in the day.