Question: I've created a character which feels real. I know what he wants, why he wants it, I know all his little secrets. I pretty much know everything about him.
However, I find that every time I try to write in first person, his whole personality disappears. He becomes an empty character and is no longer the character I know so much about.
I don't have that problem when I write in third-person though, it's easier to describe the world around him that way. But that doesn't change the fact that I'd prefer to write in first-person. (I probably will end up writing in third-person though).
But do you have any tips on how to keep the characters personality, when I'm writing in first-person?
Any answer would make me happy, because even if this book doesn't end up being in first-person, I'd still like to learn how to write in first-person.Answer:
Usually the advantage of first person narration is that it allows the character to speak to the reader in his own voice. It allows him to share his thoughts and feelings in a more intimate way than third person.
However, every character is different. It's a good idea to try different styles of narration because sometimes the style you think you want to write in isn't the most effective for the story you're telling.
If the character and the story seem more alive, more engaging, in third person then that's most likely the style you should write this story in.
You can think of this process as getting out of the way and letting the character decide how his story should be told.
It's an attitude shift. As a writer you may come to the story with ideas and attitudes that are not really part of the story that is emerging but may be part of your personality or stuff you have picked up elsewhere. But if you set aside all that and let the story come to you the way it wants to come the result may be something much more original and powerful.
Or it may not (no guarantees). But at least it will be true to itself, and the experience can be very rewarding.