When you are writing a story you need to decide what the voice of your narrative is going to sound like.
In simple words, this means; ‘who is telling your story?’
You can choose to write a first person narrative. This means that you, as the author, are writing as if you were a character in your own story, and telling us everything about that story from that character’s point of view.
A first person narrative is as if ‘I’ were writing. ‘I saw this. I felt that. I was frightened. I was happy.’
Writing in the first person is a very personal experience. It allows you, as the author, but also your reader, to really get under the skin of the person who is telling the story. It is great if you want the reader to connect with, empathise and sympathise with a character.
Books which are supposed to be diaries are a good example of a first person narrative.
First person narrative is a powerful way of exploring an individual’s response to the situation you put them in. For example, if your character were trapped in a burning building and needed to get out, you can explore in a very real way what it feels like to smell the smoke, see the flames, deal with fear and the need to take action.
You can choose to write a third person narrative. This means that you, as the author tell us about what is happening from a distance. You are not a character, you write, almost as if you were a camera, observing and recording what you see and hear.
When you are writing a third person narrative you use terms like ‘he felt’ ‘she saw’ ‘they believed’ etc. You describe what is happening to other people.
It is a way of distancing the reader and the author from what is happening. We do not feel as involved as we would in a first person narrative.
Third person narrative is good for describing events in a filmic way. It is useful for reporting things.
Third person narrative is not so helpful if you are trying, as an author, to get your reader to understand deep emotions and feelings. It relies on the character having to tell or show someone else in the story what they are thinking and feeling. Sometimes that other person is the author. Even in a third person narrative, you as the author have a voice, it is just a voice that is detached (switched off, or separate from) the action as it unfolds. The third person narrative author’s voice can sometimes be described as that of God or the director of the story. You are making things happen. You are powerful, but you are also distinctly separate from what is happening.
You can switch narrative methods in your story. You can start with a first person narrative, a character telling us about something that is happening to them. You can then get that character to witness something which means they are reporting in the third person, other characters’ responses to a situation.
You can also have multiple narrators, and use paragraphs to move from one narrator to another if you like.
There are no rules as to how you create your characters, you just need to decide which type of narrative device (trick) works best for the story you are trying to tell.