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First Person Narrative

We all dislike Twilight, which is why we are all a member of this group. One thing part of Twilight I've seen many of the member say they dislike is the fact that it is told in the First Person Narrative.
My question is: why? Why is the first person narrative so bad that some list it as one of the reasons they dislike Twilight. Would the fact that a book is in first person make you not want to read it?
Personally, the way Smeyer uses it, it makes the story seem cheap and cliched, but I've witness many sorties which pull off first person narrative rather nicely.
The reason I'm asking this is because... Well, I tend to write in first person since that is the way I was taught how to write and I'm still in the process of developing my own style so I focus more on that than what the point of view is.
Any help would be much appreciated.

Comments

The fact that Twilight is in first person doesn't bother me. Bella is just a terrible narrator and the way she tells the story is distracting; She talks too much about Edward's appearance, how undeserving she is of him and is very cynical and bitter to the point that you want to smack her. If SMeyer embraced the fact that Bella is annoying twat, then I would have less problems with it, but SMeyer makes Bella seem like a wonderful person, which she clearly is not.
This.

First person is always going to be an unreliable narrative, but with Twilight it's magnified to 1000%
This.

First person isn't bad, SMeyer just wrote it badly.
This!

...That turns up on twilight_sucks a lot, you know. People saying 'this'. But you managed to express what I was trying to figure out how to say re: the narrative in... nine words. You get kudos, squared.
I have no problem with First Person Narrative, I've got loads of books that are in first person and when it's done well it's great to read, but Meyer did it badly.

Some people really dislike first person and that's their opinion and they have their reasons but first person is sometimes the best way to write a story, when other times third person would be better. I write both (and have even written some second person) and like reading both. Just as long as it's done well.

Let's talk about writing in the present tense, now that I hate. Although that has nothing to do with Twlight ;)

POV is very important though, but you're more comfortable with first person so you should stick to your strengths.
This. I have read books I've enjoyed that are in first person, but Bella as a narrator just sucks.

The other thing that bugs me is changing POV in the middle of a story.
I agree with the previous comments. Using first person narration isn't bad technique, in and of itself. But keep in mind, first person narration means sticking with a character throughout the entire story. And with characters like Bella Swan, this is can be a very bad thing indeed.
First person will put me off an unfamiliar book, but that's just me, and I've got books done in first person that I like quite a bit.

It would have improved Twilight if Bella was being written by someone who knew what she was writing. One of my favorite books is told by a young female character who can be a self absorbed little brat, but it always comes off as totally intentional.
I agree with this. First person just doesn't seem like it would fit very well with a fantasy novel, like maximuski said, it makes it look like it's just wish fulfillment. But if you use first person narrative in a non-fiction novel, it may be more appropriate and the best way to write it.
But in non-fiction first person is really cool :D.

Yup. It can be very interesting. First They Killed My Father is told in first person present-tense, which makes her story very interesting.

I don't have a problem with first person narrative, my problem is that Meyer didn't do it correctly.

The novel sounds more like a journal or a diary of a 10 year old girl than a respectable fiction.
I normally love first-person, but I remember that I couldn't get absorbed into Twilight when I first read it, which is strange, because normally I'm sucked in by all first-person narratives (I found out later it was because Bella is boring. Which I knew, but didn't connect to the fact I couldn't get into the book). Also, it reads like wish-fulfillment because Bella is such a blank slate whose only identifying feature is that she lusts after Edward.
First person can actually be really good—it's just that Bella irritates me a lot, and for the whole thing I have to be listening to all her insipid narration. I found the movie to be a great improvement on the source material in part because I wasn't having to listen to her whine all the time.

So yeah, it can be great—you just have to have a really good sense of your character's voice and be able to present it in an engaging way.
Stop my breathing and slit my throat
I must be emo
I don't jump around when I go to shows
I must be emo
Dye in my hair and polish on my toes
I must be emo
I play guitar and write suicide notes
I must be emo

thats what your comment made me think of
i write in first person style as well and see no problem in it.
maybe its the fact that she just whines too much that have people turned off to that sort of narrative. [personally its my fave.]
- First person is very difficult to pull off and most people cannot pull it off.
- Limited and biased perspective: Through 1st person narration, the readers are forced into the shoes of a character and all of the information is biased and limited to that one character's understanding. It can be a turn-off and the audience can only know what the character does. Simply disliking the character or the character's style of dialog can be a turn-off.
- First person tends to be used in stories that involved blatant self-insertion and wish fulfillment. That's why a lot of fanfics are first person POV. First person is easier for newer writers, because the writer only needs to focus on one character. However, third is more difficult, because not just one character can be developed and different characters needs different voices.

I've read very few things in first person that I thought were good or truly benefited from that style of narration. I think it's good for murder mysteries, where the audience needs to be only given limited information in order to make it interesting (and not so obvious). It's also good for short stories, where there may only be one character (the narrator) and a main part of the story is the audience being in his/her head and experiencing/seeing what he/she does. For example, Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" is in 1st POV and that's what's best for that short story.

However, some things cannot be told by first person. Complicated storylines with recurring and major characters can't be told via first very well. For example, The Lord of the Rings couldn't be done via first person. If it had been in first person, it would've been a different story.
One of my favourite examples of limited first person narration is The Great Gatsby. Even though we don't get an up close look at everything that happens to Daisy and Gatsby, we get a glimpse through the narrator's eyes. And that to me is pretty awesome, but then again, F. Scott Fitzgerald is pretty awesome in general.
I never liked The Great Gatsby. IMHO, it's overrated. You know, that book didn't sell very well when it first came out. It wasn't until after F. Scott Fitzgerald died that it was reprinted again. The reason why it was brought back into print and circulation again, and it's used in high schools and whatnot now a day is because some papers on Fitzgerald's brilliance and how great some of his works (ie The Great Gatsby) were.



Edited at 2009-04-24 02:57 pm (UTC)
I don't dislike first person narrative, but the way it's used in Twilight is awful.
Bella's range of thoughts are this: "OMG EDWARD HOTTTTT" "OMG, EVERYONE BUT EDWARD ARE BITCHES" and "OMG I'M NOT AWESOME BUT I TOTALLY AM".
She also doesn't describe anything well at all. It's really painful to read.
But I've read other books in first person narrative and I usually like it.
Like everyone else has said, 1st-person is fine when the character isn't a boring cardboard figure. It also doesn't help that the narration is made up of insignificant details like what Bella is making for dinner, how she makes it, what she's thinking while making it... Nap, please.

I personally love a few good 1st-person stories and am planning to write one in the future. (And this may sound big-headed but I can say that the narrator is much more interesting than Bella.)
In and of itself, there's nothing wrong with first person narrative, but it's harder to do well. Getting a sense of unbiased perspective on the overall plot is very difficult and SMeyer fails hard to provide any kind of foil to Bella's failtastic narration.

Lolita, to the best of my recollection, was written in the first person. The narrator was a paedophile who married a woman to get closer to her twelve year old daughter. The difference is Nabokov actually made this narration work brilliantly and Meyer made Bella sound like a brainless, unsympathetic twit.
It's not the first person narrative that's the problem, as that can and has been done well. It's the fact that there's not reason for using first-person. It doesn't add anything to the story, it doesn't give us a view of Bella's personality (due to her lack of one, other than 'bitch'), it doesn't... do anything. It could just as well have been written in third-person, and nothing would have changed.

i never got if bella was "thinking" or "feeling" whatever she said.

plus, meyer is bella, and that's just too obvious.