How can I describe a scene in a short story with the first-person point of view, when the main character isn't taking part in the action, or even viewing the event?

  • Looks like you are going to have multiple POV characters in a short story?
    – Alexander
    Sep 16, 2020 at 0:14
  • 1
    Actually no. I'd like it to be only one. But I don't know if is it possible to describe other's actions although the speaker doesn't participate in some events with them Sep 16, 2020 at 0:21
  • Have you read The Great Gatsby? IIRC, the narrator, Nick, tells us things about Gatsby's youth that he didn't witness personally. The trick is to do it well, and screw the 'rules'... Sep 16, 2020 at 7:58

1 Answer 1


Things that your character is not aware of can not appear in the story. If you wish to stick to a first-person single point of view, you have to make the character aware of the event somehow -- even if you have the character interrupt people arguing about it and be more annoyed than interested.

  • This is only true if you follow the 'rule' that says it is. At the end of the day, you can do anything if you do it well enough... Sep 16, 2020 at 8:00
  • Which "rule" are you referring to?
    – Mary
    Sep 16, 2020 at 12:48
  • You said "Things that your character is not aware of can not appear in the story." To me, that's a rule that can be broken - at least, if 'aware of' means you have to write it into a conversation or something. But I'm a bit far out in my dislike for 'rules' of writing, so I suspect most people will disagree with me! What's your opinion of the bit in The Great Gatsby where Nick tells us about Gatsby's youth, if you know it? Sep 16, 2020 at 13:30
  • That's not a rule, that's a tautology. And are you claiming that Nick is not aware of what he tells us?
    – Mary
    Sep 16, 2020 at 22:50
  • I think there's a difference between the near-omniscient first person narrator who talks to us from some unspecified point in the future, and adding in a conversation where the narrator finds something out just so that they can tell us about it. The latter just sounds like it could be bit clunky. That's why I said it depends what you mean by 'aware of'. Sep 16, 2020 at 23:22

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