First Person POV

by Nicole

Question:

If I am writing in the first person,is the following acceptable dialogue?


"What are you thinking about George?"
"I'm just thinking how lovely it is that we were able to do this today," he replied.
"I know, it's pretty amazing."
"You can say that again," George said.


I am wondering about the use of the tags like he and she since I know they are used in 3rd person. Also wondering about referring to the person by name in the tags.

Answer:

1. You might need a tag like "I said" in that bit of dialogue, if you haven't already established that your main character is speaking first. Otherwise, I see no problem.

2. Tags like "he said" are fine when someone other than the main character is speaking. In first person, you are narrating what the main character perceives. So if the main character hears someone say something, then a tag like "he said" makes sense. In first person narration, the main character (rather than a narrator) is telling the reader the story. Just like when you tell someone about something that happened to you face-to-face, the main character will describe what other people said using speech tags to identify them.

3. It's a good idea to use a character's name in a speech tag when it helps the reader understand who is speaking. Within a paragraph, you would generally use a character's name once, in a speech tag or to describe some action they are doing. After that, you can use "he" or "she" to refer to them, until you switch to a new paragraph.

In a scene where there are multiple characters, you may need to use proper names more often so the reader always knows who is speaking. Just read the scene to yourself (or have someone else read it) and notice if there's any confusion over who is speaking. If so, you may need more proper names or speech tags. On the other hand, if it feels like you are repeating information unnecessarily, you may need to reduce the number of tags/names.

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