What would be a good style for writing a story from one point of view while keeping the narration interesting? I mean you can't go into too much detail as what a person does during the day is fine for a diary but not something that is supposed to entertain people.

It seems that some of the few biographies I've read tend to skip detail or switch between events, descriptions of people and sometimes explanations.

Nicolas Hulot's "Les chemins de traverse" is an example of this. This examples also makes me wonder how you distance yourself from events that were emotionally charged while writing. In his autobiography he relates how his brother let himself die in the cellar without telling anyone. It's a terrible thing to live through but not everyone would have the same view of the event and it's definitely relevant as it's what got him to become some sort of adventurer.


2 Answers 2


Sorry for the simplistic answer, but you are asking a very basic question.

The way to keep a narrative interesting in the first person (or from any POV, for that matter), is to leave out detail that doesn't advance character development or plot, or isn't interesting for some other reason.

Some writing teachers and critics will tell you never to use the first person because the minutiae of one's daily life are not necessarily interesting to readers. That's hogwash. Where is it written that first-person narratives have to include boring, irrelevant detail? The only reason to forego that POV is if you can't do it well. Plenty of great writing has been done from the first-person perspective, from the earliest novels (which were actually done in an epistolary style) to the most modern fiction.

  • I think people feel more justified to put down every thought that they have while writing in first person because, well, it's in their head, right? But as you said, the say rules apply to all points of view. If it's not interesting and it doesn't move the story along, it shouldn't be there.
    – Joel Shea
    Commented Jun 29, 2011 at 11:34

I don't see the connection between First Person and including mundane events. You COULD include mundane events in Second or Third Person, too, if you were so inclined, but hopefully you aren't.

Focus on what you need the scene to do. Hopefully it's designed to advance characterization and/or plot (hopefully 'and', rather than 'or'). So what is needed for that to work? Some details may add to your story, especially if you're working on setting a vivid scene, but only if the details are significant. If they're mundane and pointless, they have no place in a work of any POV.

That isn't to say that some things that seem mundane truly ARE. If a character gets up, brushes his teeth, uses the toilet, has a shower and gets dressed without incident, that's mundane, UNLESS the character has just witnessed a grisly murder, and you're using the simple details to show that your character is a psychopath who has not been affected by the events, or something like that.

The point is, everything should have a point, regardless of POV.

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