Monday, December 19, 2011

You Talking to Me?

Question: When writing in first person, who does your main character talk to?

When I began writing, I always considered my audience. My first novel was middle grade, so my main character spoke to a middle grade reader. As I wrote it, I pictured him speaking directly to the reader -- to every reader who picked up that book. He would tell that story to anyone willing to listen.

But now, as I revise a YA, I'm giving very careful thought as to whom my main character will confide his deepest personal thoughts and feelings.

MY WIP is written in past tense, which gives me more options than my first novel -- written in present tense -- did. So who does this boy talk to? And how does this choice color the way he tells his story?

Does he talk to a girl he is currently in love with, sitting on a dock, watching boats sail in and out? Or is he a little tipsy and telling the story of senior year to his freshman roommate? Or, is he talking to the reader, and if so, how far away is he from the timeline of the story? Each choice changes the way the story is told, unbeknownst to the reader.

I'm not ready to reveal the choice I made. After all, I'm still revising. I may change it again. And again. And again. But I do know one thing for certain. My main character deserves to tell his story to someone who will really listen.

So I ask all you first person writers -- who does your main character talk to?


  1. Wow, great question. I think my first person MC's speak to the reader, and that reader is sort of like a new BFF, they don't know the MC's story yet, but are trustworthy enough and close enough that the MC wants to share. The BFF reader is different depending on the MC. I started a first person present YA recently and my character is sort of talking to the her she wants to be, somebody that gets her completely - maybe like a guardian angel?

    Again, great question!

  2. This is such a good question to ask oneself.
    Skimming over my first person POVs, I’m left with a sort of reader-confidant on the other side of the line.

  3. Jaye - a guardian angel! Perfect!

    Mirka - a confidant - absolutely!

  4. Sorry I'm so late to respond! What a fantastic post, J.A.!

    This is an incredible question... and one I don't think I've ever considered before. I love how your careful consideration of all the possibilities will affect your manuscript! Can't wait to find out how you decided to write it!