POV

The Reluctant “I.”

Write a 600-word first-person story in which you use the first person pronoun (“I” or “me” or “my”) only two times—but keep the “I” somehow important to the narrative you’re constructing. The point of this exercise is to imagine a narrator who is less interested in himself or herself than in what he or she is observing. You can make your narrator someone who sees a very interesting event in which she is not necessarily a participant. Or you can make him self-effacing yet a major participant in the events related.

The people we tend to like most are those who are much more interested in other people than in themselves, selfless and caring, whose conversation is not a stream of self-involved remarks (like the guy who, after speaking about himself to a woman at a party for half an hour, says, “Enough about me, what do you think of me?”). Another lesson you might learn from this exercise is how important it is to let things and events speak for themselves, beyond the ego of the narration.

It is very important in this exercise to make sure your reader is not surprised, forty or fifty words into the piece, to realize that this is a first person narration. Show us quickly who is observing the scene.



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