First-Person Point of View: Definition & Writing Tips

Personal narratives bring to life experiences through the lens of the first person point of view, inviting readers into the authors’ worlds of thoughts, ideas, and feelings. By focusing on ‘what is first person point of view’ and leveraging ‘first person point of view examples,’ this article will guide you on how to craft compelling narratives that resonate.

This guide will explore how to write in the first person. Whether for academic purposes, professional development, or personal expression, mastering the first person point of view will empower your storytelling.

What is First-Person Point of View?

First-person point of view is a narrative style where the story is narrated by one character at a time, speaking for and about themselves. This character uses first-person pronouns such as “I” or “we” to relate events from their perspective. This approach allows the narrator’s voice to color the narrative with their personal opinions, emotions, and perceptions, offering a subjective view of the world.

  1. Intimate Narrative Access: First-person point of view provides readers with an intimate glimpse into the narrator’s thoughts and feelings, making it easier for readers to connect with the narrator on a personal level.
  2. Popular in Various Genres: This point of view is commonly utilized in genres such as mysteries, thrillers, romance, and young adult fiction, where a close connection with the character’s inner world enhances the narrative’s impact.
  3. Variations of First-Person Point of View: There are several types of first-person narratives, including:
    • First-Person Central: The narrator is the central character in the story.
    • First-Person Peripheral: The narrator is a secondary character observing the action.
    • First-Person Limited: Offers a limited perspective on the events as the narrator does not know every aspect of the story.
    • First-Person Omniscient: Although rare, this allows the narrator to know more than what would normally be expected, sometimes even breaking the fourth wall.

The choice of first-person point of view can significantly influence the storytelling by creating a sense of immediacy and intimacy. It is particularly effective in autobiographies and memoirs, where the author’s direct engagement with the audience can add credibility and a personal touch to the narrative.

Examples of First-Person Point of View in Literature

Exploring the first-person point of view in literature reveals a diverse array of narrative voices, each bringing unique perspectives and emotional depths to their stories. Here are some notable examples:

  1. The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss: The complex tale of Kvothe is narrated by Kote, his older self, providing a reflective and personal recount of his past adventures.
  2. Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb: Through the eyes of Fitz Chivalry, this novel offers an intimate exploration of his life, blending epic fantasy with deep personal insights.
  3. Skyward by Brandon Sanderson: Follow Spensa Nightshade’s challenging journey through flight school, narrated from her first-person perspective, which adds immediacy and connection to her experiences.
  4. The Will of the Many by James Islington: Narrated entirely by Vis Telimus, this epic high fantasy story gains depth from his first-person account, drawing readers deeply into his struggles and triumphs.
  5. In Five Years by Rebecca Serle: Experience the life of Dannie, a corporate lawyer, through her own words, making her surprising personal journey resonate deeply with readers.
  6. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Scout’s retrospective narrative as an older woman reflecting on her childhood adds layers of depth and understanding to the racial and moral complexities of her time 9.
  7. Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift: The adventures of Lemuel Gulliver, told from his own perspective, offer a satirical and personal critique of contemporary society.
  8. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: Nick Carroway’s perspective as a newcomer to West Egg introduces the opulent yet morally ambiguous world of the 1920s.
  9. The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe: This poem’s suspense is heightened by the first-person narrative, allowing Poe to directly convey the narrator’s growing despair.
  10. Because I could not stop for Death by Emily Dickinson: Dickinson’s first-person narrative speaks directly to the reader, making her meditations on life and death more intimate and powerful.

Each of these works exemplifies the power of the first-person point of view in creating a direct, immersive, and emotionally rich reading experience.

Tips for Writing in First-Person

Engaging the Senses

To create a vivid narrative, evoke not only the narrator’s inner thoughts but also their sensory experiences. This helps to paint a fuller picture and brings the story to life for the reader.

Learn More: Narrative Elements and What is Imagery?

Maintaining Narrative Distance

It’s important to avoid overusing words that create distance between the narrator and the reader, such as ‘observed’ or ‘noticed.’ Instead, integrate the action with the narrator’s immediate reactions and thoughts.

Balancing Narration Types

Use a mix of expository and scene narration to keep the narrative engaging. Expository narration can explain the setting details, while scenes can show the action in progress, making the story dynamic.

Varied Expressions

Vary how your narrator expresses feelings, thoughts, and experiences to keep the narrative fresh and engaging. This helps in maintaining the reader’s interest throughout the story.

Consistency in Voice

Ensure that the narrating voice is consistent with the narrator’s backstory (via character development) and personality. This consistency is crucial for maintaining authenticity and believability in the narrative.

Layering the Character’s Voice

Incorporate the character’s unique voice into every line of the narrative to reinforce their presence and personality. This makes the narrative deeply personal and engaging.

Sentence Structure Variation

Varying your sentence structure can add rhythm and pace to the narrative, making it more readable and engaging. Short sentences can increase tension or pace, while longer ones can offer depth and detail.

Avoiding Over-Introspection

While it’s important to explore your character’s thoughts, spending too much time inside their head can slow down the narrative. Balance introspection with action and dialogue.

Techniques for Narrative Flexibility

Utilize techniques such as time delays, imagination, dreams, and secondhand reports to add layers and flexibility to your narrative. These can help to expand the plot and add depth while maintaining the close connection with the protagonist.

Challenges of Writing in First Person

  1. Restricted Narrative Scope: When writing in the first person, the story is confined to what the main character can see, hear, and know. This limitation can narrow the scope of the narrative, potentially leaving out crucial information that could add depth to the story.
  2. Character Voice Limitations: The need to maintain a voice true to the character can restrict the use of various literary styles and devices. This could limit the author’s expressive range and flexibility in storytelling.
  3. Biased Viewpoint: The inherently personal nature of the first-person perspective means the narrative may overlook other perspectives and angles, leading to a story heavily colored by the protagonist’s biases and experiences.


What does first person point of view mean in a story?

In a narrative, the first person point of view means that the story is told by a character within the story. This character narrates the events from their own perspective, typically using pronouns like “I” or “we” if they are part of a group.

Is first person commonly used in personal narratives?

Yes, the first person perspective is commonly employed in personal narratives. This approach allows the writer to share stories or experiences from their own viewpoint, making the writer the central focus. Key pronouns used include “I,” “we,” “me,” “us,” “my,” “mine,” “our,” and “ours.”

What are examples of first, second, and third person pronouns?

  • First person pronouns include “I,” “me,” “my,” “mine,” “myself,” “we,” “our,” “ours,” and “ourselves.”
  • Second person pronouns are “you,” “your,” “yours,” and “yourself.”
  • Third person pronouns consist of “she,” “her,” “hers,” “herself,” “he,” “him,” “his,” “himself,” “they,” “them,” “themselves,” “their,” and “theirs.”

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