Why people don't write first-person fantasy books

When I began work on my current fantasy project, I was eager to be one of the few to write a fantasy saga in the first person. Now I am beginning to see why this is done so rarely.

With fantasy, there's a lot happening at once. Rarely do all of the important characters take the stage at the same time. So, you can either have characters narrate their in-the-meantime stories to the first person narrator upon their reunion, or you can use third person and tell the simultaneous stories more or less simultaneously.

There's also a lot that needs to be explained in fantasy books. When you write a non-fantasy story that takes place in the real world, you can assume your reader knows how things work in that world - he or she lives there! But if you've invented a world, complete with locations, races, religions, cultures, magical rules, politics, and history, it's entirely up to you to make sure your readers know pertinent details.

So your options are to have a really smart first-person narrator who already knows everything, which ruins the adventure by making everything too easy; to have your first-person narrator stumble across information in the form of wizened old sorcerers or mysterious books that reveal information in a conveniently timed fashion (which again makes it seem that things are too easy; the world is helping the character complete this supposedly impossible mission); or to tell your story in the third person, so that you can fill in the details necessary for fleshing out the world and perhaps even create some dramatic irony, which is possible but difficult with first person.

I thought that I would be able to achieve a more distinct and quirky voice for my main character, Anna, by writing in first person, but in fact the more fun and satisfying chapters to read (and to write) have by far been the ones I've done in third person. Somehow Anna has more of a voice when someone else is telling the story for her. Anyway I think she's a little busy combating evil and all that to be giving people a play by play of her adventure. So third person it shall be.

Peace, love and power naps,
Miss Rex


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