I’m a beginner when it comes to writing.

I’m attempting to write a novel. It’s in First Person.

I was wondering if I can address the reader, as the main character telling the story.

I’ll give you a quick sample to explain what I mean:

“I never felt that. I never felt like I belonged anywhere. Perhaps you can relate. Or perhaps you can feel the victim complex oozing out of my words already.”

From time to time throughout the novel, I address the reader as “You”, as if the main character were talking to the reader. Telling them their story directly. Is this a bad idea?

I also have noticed I keep jumping the tense around. For example my introduction is written in present tense, talking to the reader and asking the reader questions ie. “Do you ever look back on your life as a series of wrong turns?”

But then the main bulk of the story is the narrator looking back on the past and telling it as if it were so. But because the style is such a way that the narrator is the main character telling the story, she also sometimes chimes in with present-tense thoughts. ie. “He was a loose-canon back then. A person who’s bad side, you would never want to get on. I wonder what he’s doing with his life today.”

Does this writing style work? Literally any advice would be much appreciated for a new writer trying to wrap her head around First Person POV.

Also, maybe I should mention that the Narrator is the main character at the age of 27, she begins telling the story of her life at Eighteen years old. But throughout, the timelines jump, like a puzzle piecing life-experiences from various ages, and covers her childhood up until the point of the Narrator’s writing at 27.


  • 2
    Many novels do this. I recommend reading a few to get a feel for how to handle it.
    – Cyn
    Commented Jan 6, 2019 at 5:00
  • Yes, very doable. Just pay attention to narration/immersion sequencing.
    – Alexander
    Commented Jan 7, 2019 at 19:44

1 Answer 1


It works. Addressing the reader directly is essentially the purpose of first person narration.

Addressing the reader as you is fine. Avoid dear reader as that can be jarring and interfere with immersion.

You want to draw them in and tell them a story, keep them hooked. First person is looking through the eyes of the MC and can be quite intimate.

Which books that you love use first person? How did that author pull you in and hold you?

Regarding tense, the story is being told in the present but refers to the past, so a bit of tense blending is natural.

You will want your book to flow, so take the time to read sections aloud and listen carefully for breaks in rhythm and any clunkiness. The reader should not have their experience marred by an unintended clumsy phrase.

I wrote a play once and kept inserting missing words every time I read it - finally I noticed they were not there and corrected it.

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