OngoingWorlds blog

News & articles about play-by-post games, for roleplayers & writers


Subjective point of view in your stories

tree at night

As First Person Fortnight starts tomorrow, I’ve been posting some tips on writing in first person perspective. I’ve already posted some benefits of first person over on RPG-D, but wanted to get more into the details in this article.

Everyone knows that first person is from the point of view of a character. One of the main advantages of this is the freedom of telling the story how you want to tell it (or more accurately, how your character wants to tell it). Human beings often have terrible memories, and several people’s interpretations of the same events might be totally different. In this case, your story can be told from the point of view of an unreliable narrator. Here’s two things you can think about:

  • The narrator could be deliberately lying to us. The character focusses on events that are important to the story, and glosses over others. This could make the narrator look like a good guy, or even like a hero if told correctly. For comedy effect you could use subtext to make it clear to the reader what actually happened, and that the narrator’s words are exaggerated. However this could be used well if the narrator is only telling a white lie, to make the story sound more interesting. Think about the times you’ve told a story, and changed the truth slightly to make the story more interesting.
  • The narrator could believe they’re telling the truth. This could mean they’re deluded and only remembering the details important to them (similar to above), or maybe they assumed something was true but it wasn’t. For example they saw another character die in an explosion, and incorrectly assumed he was dead.

I found an article about unreliable narrators here which explains this much better than I have here.

Subjective point of view allows you to write using character’s opinions instead of fact. Writing in first person perspective gives us the opportunity to mess around with our usual style, and it’d be interesting to see in the stories that are submitted how many people decide to use this.