Monday, July 02, 2007

Lesson 1: First person narration

This is the first of a series of posts on what I learned in my MFA week at Lesley. These posts are mostly to help me synthesize what I learned, but I hope they prove helpful to other writers out there, too!

A new faculty member, Marcie Hershman, taught a great seminar on first-person narration. The main things I learned are:

* With first person-stories, there are two stories going on: there's the story of the person telling the story (Why is he/she choosing to tell this story? Why is it meaningful to him/her?) and the story of the people/events being described. The story of the narrator must be underneath the plot story. Otherwise, the story should be told in third person.

* In that way, there should be many layers to a first-person story

* The writer should remember that the "I" narrator is selective over what information he/she gives the reader, and he/she has control over that information.

*The "I" narrator immediately conjures a personality and character. Best Blogger Tips


TI said...

I wonder whether the first person narrative in fiction is different from the first person narrative in non-fiction in any significant way? This is the subject of my craft essay, so any ideas would be welcome.

Bug said...

Hi TI, No, I don't think the first person is different in fiction or non-fiction, at least in how we discussed it in class. BTW, I started reading the new Alice Munro--it definitely strattles the line b/w fiction and non-fiction. In the prologue she talks a lot about how she took factual scenes and input some fictional elements. You should check it out.

bostonerin said...

Good round up on first person!

Dave Eggers just released a new novel that also bridges the fic/nonfic line. He did extensive interviews with a Sudanese Lost Boy, and ended up recreating his story in a fictional way instead of a nonfiction piece--which was his original intent.

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