Short stories, just like other types of literature, make use of two primary narrative forms: third person narration and of course, first person narration. Some “weirdos” do try to write with an unnatural second person narrative. That, however, isn’t going to be discussed in this post…and probably never will in any future post.
A short story that is written in first person basically assigns the responsibility of the story’s narration to a participating character in the story. This means that the entire story is narrated from the character’s point of view.
Why Use a First Person Narrative in a Short Story
While first person narration makes plotting a short story much easier, there are lots of other reasons why a first person narration is ideal for a short story. Here are just a few of them:
It is technically the best narrative for short-stories
This is obviously a subjective opinion but it is definitely based on accurate assertions. Firstly, most short stories have just a couple of characters with some only having the protagonist as the story’s sole character. With this in mind, it is easy to see why a first person narrative is just ideal when writing a short story.
Also, with a lot of the conflicts in short stories being character driven, narrating the stories from the point of views of these characters is just a given.
It allows easy exhibition of a character’s emotions
First person narrative provides a unique view that isn’t possible with third person narrations. This view allows readers to see a character’s emotional transition from the beginning of a story to its end.
Makes it easy for readers to follow
Since the story is being written from the perspective of its central character, it is easier for readers to follow and understand. First person narration easily provides context for each circumstance in the story, enlightening readers on what exactly is happening.
Tips on Writing a First Person Short Story
The tips below should be adhered to if you wish to write a short story in first person narrative.
Avoid the overuse of “I” in your sentences
This is a common issue many writers face when writing short stories in first person. Since you’re narrating the story from a character’s point of view, it is easy to get caught up in the excessive usage of the pronoun “I”.
You want to avoid this as much as possible, though, as it will ruin the story for readers. Learn to be cautious of its excessive use in your writing, and only start sentences with it if it is the only suitable option available.
Avoid writing sentences that describe your narrating character’s physical appearance
This is a simple error that is often made by new writers who aren’t accustomed to writing short stories in first person. You want to as much as possible avoid describing the narrating character’s physical attribute.
Sentences like “My frizzy long blonde hair shone bright in the moonlight” is just distracting and technically inaccurate since it is impossible for the character to know this detail. So unless your narrator stands in front of a mirror or any other reflective medium, it is wise to avoid such descriptions in a first person short story.
Show the emotional fallout of every important action
First person narration allows writers to properly display the emotional side of their central characters. This is a bit difficult to accomplish in third person narration though it is still possible.
It will be pointless for you to then write from the perspective of your main character without exploring the emotional state of the character in every important scene.
This doesn’t mean you should write the character’s thoughts on every subject in the story — that would be tedious to read; it simply means that important scenes should be written with the character’s emotion fully explored.
The main character must be at the center of all events in the story
This is kind of a given. What’s the point of writing a story in first person if the events and conflicts in the story have no direct impact on the character narrating the story?
This should, in fact, be the factor that determines whether or not you should write the short story in first person. If the main character in your story doesn’t play a crucial role in the conflicts within, then a first person narration is completely unnecessary and even out of place.
You must let the narrating character be an important part of every crucial event in the story, from the beginning, through the conflicts, and to the final resolution.
A first person short story provides a brilliant opportunity for you to narrate an interesting tale to your audience; more importantly, though, it also allows the audience to get a feel of your protagonist’s emotional conundrums.
You can also check out this post on short story contests in 2019 if you’re interested in entering your short story into a competition.