The First Person

For a long time, I thought that first-person was a style used only for the Dear America books. I mean, it's a diary. Of course it's written in first-person.

But then I ventured out. I wish I could remember all the books that began my first-person journey. For some reason, Francis O'Roark Dowell's Dovey Coe is coming into my mind:
"My name is Dovey Coe, and I reckon it don't matter if you like me or not."
Then there was Gail Carson Levine's Ella Enchanted:
"That fool of a fairy Lucinda did not intend to lay a curse on me."
And one of my best-ever thrift store finds, Ralph Fletcher's Fig Pudding:
"My full name is Clifford Allyn Abernathy III, after my father and grandfather, but I leave off the III, the Allyn, and the ord."
What's funny is that even by reading these amazing books, I didn't write in first person. Third, third, and more third - that was what I wrote. I may have attempted first once or twice, but it didn't flow like my words did in third. So I gave it up, deciding that third was where my heart was, where the story could be told best.

And then came a little ARC that my small-town libary placed into circulation before it came out in stores, before it was famous and garnering rave reviews from readers and critics alike: The Hunger Games:
"When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold."
That book was a page-turner like none I'd ever read before. I read and read and read deep into the night, and when I turned the light off and drifted into dreams, I entered Katniss' world. I could hear her narrating the story in my head as I was in the Games. Her voice narrated my dreams that night.

And I woke up in awe of what first-person present-tense could do. It was because of The Hunger Games that I began to dabble in first-person. (What happened then will wait until tomorrow, because this post is way too long.)

I realized while writing this post that I couldn't remember many of my favorite MG and YA first-person books. So, throw some at me! Give me some good first-person stories! (And let me know...did they narrate your dreams, too?) :)


Sara B. Larson said...

The more YA I read, the more 1st person I get! It's very popular in YA. Hunger Games is an excellent example of how effective it can be. Can't wait to find out what happens next!

Shelley Sly said...

Hmm... I'd say of all the stories I've written, 50% are first person and 50% are third person. It depends on the genre.

I'm a lover of children's fiction, so my recommendation is going to be The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan. I really liked his main character's (first person) narrative voice.