How many times have you heard the term “Show, Don’t Tell?” When writing in first person pov, the best way to create a page-turner is to keep the reader engaged. When you use point of view filters, you set the reader outside of the story by telling them what is happening instead of letting them experience the moment for themselves. Statements such as “I felt,” “I heard,” or “I saw” pushes the reader out of the now and allows them a chance to be separated from the hero or heroine.
Wrong: I saw the door knob slowly turn. I heard the door creak as something slowly shoved it open. I felt like my heart was coming out of my chest when I saw there was no one there.
There are actually a few things wrong with this paragraph. Not only are pov filters dominant, the usage of the pov filters stops the author from using visceral responses, things that happen when a person is experiencing heightened emotion.
Right: The door knob jiggled left and right. As the door slowly swept open, the hinges creaked. My heart pounded out of my chest. No one was on the other side.
The last paragraph draws the reader straight into the narrator’s world. The reader will forget everything around him or her and experience the scenes in the novel with the narrator as if he or she was one in the same.
Below is a list, and though certainly not complete, it will give you an idea of words to look for when writing and especially editing your work.
- I see or saw
- I hear or heard
- I think or thought
- I touched
- I wondered
- I realized
- I watched
- I looked
- I seem
You may have instances where a pov filter is needed, but for the most part there are few place for it in first person pov. You can look up a wide variety of visceral responses to replace these pov filters, but for good measure here is a list to start with.
- Heart slamming against my chest
- Stomach churning
- Pulse racing like a staccato drum beat
- Knees going spongy
- Light headed, dizzy
- Vision narrowing
- Adrenaline surging