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Exercise Eight

Today, we will work on writing in first person. This allows the reader to experience the character as if they were the character. Consistency is key to writing in first person. First person uses words like I and me. When we suddenly add phrases such as she felt, she saw, he wondered, he thought, etc., we change to third person. Not only is this confusing to the reader, but we are back to telling the reader how to think, feel, etc. rather than letting them experience the character on their own. They don’t need our help. Look at this example.

     Jerry cut in front of me. What a jerk, she thought.
     Jerry cut in front of me. What a jerk!

Do you see how the first one pulls you out of the first person, and you are directing the reader. By simply italicizing the internal dialogue and adding the !, the reader can correctly interpret the feeling. You don’t need to tell the reader she thought it. You also just cut your word count by two words. When applied to several sentences, that word count adds up.

Your Assignment

Use your find tool and search for words like saw, felt, think, thought, wondered, believed, and watched. You may find others as well. Sometimes you may find sentences that are in first person using the above words. Make sure you genuinely need them. Look at the following sentence. 

     I don’t see why we have to go to bed and Jim doesn’t.
     Why do we have to go to bed and Jim doesn’t?

Can you see we just took off another three words. The reader can feel the character’s feeling of injustice without having to tell them.