How To Write Dialogue In First Person

How To Write Dialogue In First Person_featured image

What does 1st person mean in writing?

1st person means the person narrating the story is telling it to you, or speaking directly to you. This is a very common technique in fiction, such as novels and short stories.

The protagonist is usually telling their own story, and what they do and experience affects how you view that person.

A few examples of 1st person narrative include:

  • “I scratch my head,” “I take a step back,”
  • “The woman brings me closer. I look at her. There’s something about her face that’s familiar. I stop, feeling my heart beating in my ears,”
  • “I feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself,”
  • “It didn’t seem to bother her much, the fact that she would be getting married in less than two months.”

Video – Writing dialogue in first person

Can you even use dialogue when writing in the first person narrative?

How can switching from 1st person to 3rd person affect your writing?

3rd person is the most common narrative style. The narrator is someone other than the protagonist (or any other character).

A 3rd person narrative is often viewed as objective, which refers to the fact that the author writes from a point of view without taking sides. 1st person POV is very personal and can be intimate, placing the reader in the shoes of the writer and main character.

Is it ok to switch between first-person and third-person narration?

Can you use dialogue in 1st person?

Yes, of course you can use dialogue in 1st person. It can create a great effect, but it can also be tricky, if the reader isn’t going to get bored.

One of the challenges is to have the main character speak form the 1st person point of view without saying things like ‘I said’ all the time. You can get over this by preceding 1st person speech with an obvious action, for example, so that it’s obvious who is speaking.

Example of 1st person dialogue:

I turned the corner to find my way blocked by a giant of a man.

“What the hell!”

“Surprised to see me, Nick? Been a while.”

A garbage container blocked my retreat.

“Yeah, I was just on my way to see you.”

“Sure you were,” he smiled.

How do you write in first person point of view?

Follow the basic rules of using I, Me, My and Mine, and you won’t go far wrong. The 1st person POV in question can either be the main character himself or an off-stage narrator, possible a secondary character re-telling the story of what he witnessed.

What Is First Person Point of View in Writing

What is an example of 1st person point of view?

The 3 main POVs used in fiction are:

  1. 1st person – “I picked up my hat and brushed down my coat, trying to protect everything that was mine.”
  2. 2nd person – “You picked up your hat and brushed down your coat, trying to protect everything that was yours.
  3. 3rd person – “He picked up his hat and brushed down his coat, trying to protect everything that was his.

Should I write in first person?

There are certain advantages to using 1st person, but it tends to need a little writing experience under the belt before it can be done effectively.

It can be intimate and get the reader inside the main character’s head, but the technique is difficult to maintain, specially for a beginner.

The main problem is that the reader can only see and know what the main character knows, so the bigger aspects of the plot are invisible to the reader. On the plus side, this means that you get to be surprised by a turn of events, just like your main character.

At the end of the day, it’s a personal choice based on the effect the writer wants to create.

6 Tips to Choosing the Right Point of View

Is first person dialogue hard to do?
Writing dialogue in 1st person Point Of View

How do you write in first person example?

When a writer use the first-person point of view in a novel, they use the words I, Me, My and Mine, indicfating that the narrator is the main character in the book.

An author could also use the first person in the plural form: we, us, our and ours. The peson telling the story could be the hero, the villain or a or a secondary character who isn’t really involved in the action.

The best way to get a feel for this is to read some of the best examples on novels that use 1st person narration and dialogue.

  • Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
  • The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
  • Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
  • Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
  • Rules of Civility by Amor Towles
  • The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
  • The Flatshare by Beth O’Leary
  • The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
  • The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle by Stuart Turton
  • Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
  • The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  • I Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak

Courtesy Goodreads

Is first person writing bad?

No POV is particularly bad. 1st person wriitng is all the rage at the moment, at least for the past 10 years or so. It seems that everyone, even beginners, us 1st person all the time for their novels and some people think it’s getting a bit tiresome.

In the great heydey of novel writing, authors like John Grisham and John LeCarre tended to write in a variety of Points of View, simply because different stories and plots needed a different POV for best effect.

Victorian novels were almost always 3rd person omniscient, while 2nd person POV has always been an outlier. 2nd person is bad (IMHO). It’s hard to do. It’s intended to palce the reader right in the middle of the action.

When it works, it’s great, but when 2nd person is mis-handled, it sucks big-time!

Is first person really that bad for a first novel?

Is it easier to write in first person?

At first it seems as though it’s easier to write in first person, but it’s hard to maintain it without writing a lot of I’s, and My’s!

Beginners use it because they want the readers to get in the chaacter’s head and really feel all the stress and conflict that arise from plot twists and turns.

It’s a favorite of beginners beacuse whenever we recount something to another person we automatically form oour experiences in the first person – it’s inevitable:

“I was walking across the street and you’ll never guess who I saw coming out of Sainsbury’s …”

If first person is how we tell a story in real-life thne it makes perfect sense to use it in the written form when writing fiction.

Debunking Myths: “First Person POV is the easiest to write.”

What POV is Harry Potter?

The books about Harry Potter are written in 3rd person limited and 3rd person omniscient. This is a great combination because the narrator can zoom in and out of situation involving or not involving Harry.

3rd person omniscient is like being a God. You can see and are aware of everything, while 1st person is closed and intimate. In general, the reader is aware of what the narrator (who is the main character) sees, hears and feels.

2nd person POV couldn’t work at all in the Harry Potter series, as it places you, the reader, in the story and you are not Harry Potter!

Resources relating to writing dialogue in 1st person:

How would you write dialogue in a 1st person story?

First Person Mistakes in Dialogue and Thoughts

First person narrative: 7 tips for writing great narrators

Writing in First Person: 4 Tricks and 6 Pitfalls

What is a good example of narration transitioning to dialogue

How to Format Dialogue in Your Novel or Short Story