First, Second and Third Person Narration

One of the most important decisions you’ll make when writing is deciding the perspective from which your story is told.

Most fiction is either told first person (I said) or third person (she said). You can try doing second person (you said) but I wouldn’t recommend it if you’re just starting out. It can be the most challenging to pull off.

Ask yourself if your end result is more about the big picture or intimacy. If it’s the big picture, consider writing third person. It lets you, the writer, pop in and out of your characters’ heads and affords you more of a bird’s eye view of your literary landscape. The drawback to third person is that it can be harder for a reader to emotionally connect with your characters because everyone is at arm’s length. 

If it’s intimacy you crave, opt for first person. There’s no better way to draw a reader into the interior world of a character’s mind. It helps build empathy and gives your reader the opportunity to see the world through the eyes of someone else. The downside is that you’re limited by your character’s frame of reference. You can’t jump into anyone else’s head. And, unless your first person narrator is compelling, you run the risk of boring your readers. 

If you’re not sure your story should be in first or third person, try writing both. I often find it helpful. Writing first person before switching to third can help you understand your main character better. And writing third person before switching to first person can help you better understand your supporting characters.