Sanderson CW Course: Lecture 3 (2/5) – First Person Viewpoints

Main Points (Once again, Tanya B = Rocks)

First person is seen a lot in children’s fiction because there is often only one viewpoint, the reader can get to know the character and build an attachment quickly, it is simpler, and gives away that the character lives.
It lets you have an untrustworthy narrator.
First person lets you cheat on info dumps because you can make it interesting with the character’s voice.
Style tools for first person are epistolary and character reflecting.
Limitations of first person: Multiple viewpoint characters make it tougher for the reader to distinguish who is who, the untrustworthy narrator puts doubt into the truthfulness, the personality of the character dominates, it is hard to be epic, and it gives away that the character lives.
When you choose between first and third viewpoints, it’s not about the disadvantages you’re avoiding, but the advantages you’re choosing.

Book Examples:

Dracula by Bram Stoker – First person epistolary
Sorcery and Cecilia by Patricia C Wrede and Caroline Stevermer – First person epistolary
Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb – First person reflecting on young self
Wikihistory by Desmond Warzel – Modern epistolary told in forum posts
Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss – Third person framing around a first person narrative
A Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N. K. Jemisin – Interesting use of first person narrator


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