Fiction Writing Masterclass

Lesson 3: Point of View

This week we’ll cover the pros and cons of 1st and 3rd person narration to help you decide which point of view is most suitable for your fictional stories.

Elizabeth Dawber
14 min readFeb 14, 2022

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Image created by the author in Canva

This is the third lesson in an 8-part series on writing fiction. It has been designed to take you through the process of writing a short story from start to finish. For more information, including the content covered in each lesson, check out my introductory post here.

Whose story is it?

This is the very first question you want to ask before writing anything.

Last week, in Lesson 2, you should have created a range of characters and may think you already know the answer. But choosing whose point of view to write from requires a lot more thought than just defaulting to who is the main protagonist. What kind of story do you want to tell? And what kind of effect do you want to have on the reader? Each point of view will result in something very different.

In today’s lesson, we’ll discuss the pros and cons of first and third-person narration to help you decide which is most suitable for your fictional story.

First-person narration

When you use ‘I’ to tell a story, this is first-person narration. It is arguably the easiest way to write for newbie fiction writers as it comes naturally to us to say ‘I went to the movies the other night’, ‘I have just taken the kids to school’, ‘I don’t want to go to work on Monday’ because that is exactly how we talk in our day-to-day lives.

Writing from the perspective of an I creates intimacy between reader and writer, thus, making the story much more compelling because of its natural ability to feel real.

Consider the extract below, taken from The Maid by Nita Prose:

“I am your maid. I’m the one who cleans your hotel room, who enters like a phantom when you’re out gallivanting for the day, no care at all about what you’ve left behind, the mess, or what I might see when you’re gone.”

This paragraph is a direct address to the reader, “I am your maid”. We are…

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Elizabeth Dawber

English literature & creative writing grad | MWC semi-finalist | Former editor @ The Startup | I write about this thing called life | Human | Pen for hire |🇬🇧