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Dr. Tedly Who?

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Join date : 2013-02-17
Age : 27
Location : Oregon

PostSubject: Introduction: First Person?   Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:27 pm

Hey guys, Doctor Tedly here,

Just was wanting some feedback/ advice regarding a main character introduction in a first person view. How does one do that? I know that everyone has their own interpretation of how to do so, but what I have in my head sounds stupid (pretty much the character dumps all this information on the reader all at once: name, brief history, a description on how they look, etc). It may come to me in a few days on how I want to do this, but does anyone have some pointers they could share?

And please keep in mind I am in the process of converting my book from third person to first person (I am still keeping the original just in case the first person turns sour), so my mind is having to do a complete 180 degree turn. :\

Anyway, happy writings!

Doctor Tedly Who? study
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Join date : 2013-02-19
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction: First Person?   Fri Mar 22, 2013 6:04 pm

Okay, ::cracks knuckles:: you asked for it ;D
Have you read The Hunger Games? The way the author introduces Katniss is one way to introduce your character; we get to see a lot of her dry humor and pessimistic personality, but there’s so much telling it drives me crazy.
Perhaps this is something of the same type, but we can make excuses for the telling bits:

I glanced at my watch – I only had another minute or so to get to class without being late. I paused in my walk down the long hallway to my first class and glanced at my reflection in one of the glass doors.
Sometimes, I wish I wasn’t so tall, or my hair such a golden brown, or my eyes so blue. My nose is probably the least-perfect thing about me, but people seem to love it anyways. I just want to learn, to study math and science and earn a degree – not find a mate! I stare at my jeans and old sweater in the reflection and snort in disgust. I look good even when I’m trying to look like a slob. I sighed and turned to walk to class. My musings were interrupted as one of my classmates hurried by.
“Come on, Anna! We’re going over quadratic equations today!” She called to me. I smiled.
“Alright, Jenny, relax! I’m the math whiz, remember?” I said, my gloomy mood alleviated for now.
“In your dreams, Anna Tyler!”

(I was totally just playing around here.) That kind of scenario works better for me – instead of just saying, “I’m 5’ 10” tall, with brown hair and blue eyes,” you’re getting to read the character a bit better. Here, I introduced her looks, name, and a general glimpse of her personality all in one paragraph. What I would do next is, over the course of the first chapter, introduce her history. I love using dialog between characters to introduce back story; it seems so natural, and it’s a great way to develop characters. Of course, if you have any difficulty with creating convincing dialog it’ll be harder, but I love dialog and I’ve worked really hard to perfect mine (even though it’s still far from perfect Razz).
But, that said, you never really stop describing your character, in a sense. Your story is following their journey, both the real, physical journey and their emotional, spiritual journey, so your description of their character will change in the subtlest ways, but all to show their journey and transformation.
Okay, well…..I totally just wrote a book there Razz I really love writing in first person, but I tend to think in third person, so that’s just how I’ve been writing my book to keep things straight.
But anyways, that’s just my take on it, and that’s how I’d do it. I just dislike using “I” all the time – it feels so repetitive sometimes!
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction: First Person?   Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:37 pm

Hmm... I was trying to think how I describe my MC in WLF, and I just realized that I don't really describe him. XP I guess we both have some work to do.

One thing I would like to add (you may remember this from Jeff Gerke's book), is that using a mirror is not always the best way to show your MC. It's so commonly used, and often looks cliche. I think that it worked in Alex's (er, Anna's) example, because it fit the scene and the character's mood. But I don't think it would work with your story.

This blogpost had some good ideas on how to describe your MC in first person:

Another thing you could do is email Jeff Gerke and ask him for ideas. Wink Ariel did that once (which I think is just awesome). Here's the email:

I'll let you know if I come up with any other ideas! Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction: First Person?   Wed Apr 10, 2013 7:35 pm

I'm honestly not really sure if there IS a way to describe "yourself" without telling. It's near impossible. I might just have him actually talk to the reader. I could see it as super cynical.

My name is Theodore. I'm a nerd. You'd probably roll your eyes at me. I'm short and not very muscular. My hair is a stupid buzz cut. I like sweaters and my nose gets laughed at all the time. There. Like me yet?

:🤷: Okay well I'm out of practice and that turned out horrible, but the idea is just to spell it out for the reader. Like an introduction to his story. But even that is telling. There's no way around it! :/

Riah - WHAT?!?! I totally forgot about that. Very Happy It sounds familiar.... but what did I ask him about?? :/ I can't even remember, lol.
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PostSubject: Re: Introduction: First Person?   Wed Apr 10, 2013 11:26 pm

Haha, I don't remember what you asked him. Razz I just remember you telling me about it.

I actually like your idea a lot, Ariel, although I don't think it would work for Ted's story. :\ Another thought is just not really describing the character. You obviously want to share some basics (like hair color, eye color, etc), but so much of a character is his personality. When I read a book, I don't really care if they don't give a huge description of the character, because his personality helps me to paint a picture of him in my mind. So that's an idea. Smile
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