Fantasy in the First Person

When I first started writing Will's adventures, I quickly realised that they had to be written in the first person. Even though I hadn't read much fantasy fiction, I knew that this was rare. After all, how can you tell an epic tale, with tons of characters and lots of exciting events, when everything has to be seen through the eyes of one person?

Excellent question, and one I struggled with when writing the novel and still struggle with now that I'm continuing with the story. All I can say is that I love the directness of the first person, the sense that Will is sitting by your side, sharing his experiences. Indeed, the novel originally opened with a prologue where Will does just that: sits down by a fire in a wind-battered tavern and says he's going to tell his tale. I also find it easier to write in this voice.

A first person narrative does limit what you can do. How long before the writer is constantly having to contrive more and more outlandish coincidences or plot points to get his or her narrator to the scene of the action. Also, the temptation is to fill the story with lots of other stories told by other people, but that doesn't really work either. You lose the immediacy of the first person, of the feeling that the story teller might be there with you, telling you about their experience.

Of course, there are moments in Will the Wayfarer where other people tell their stories, hopefully in their own voice. But I tried to keep these to a minimum and let Will be our guide throughout.

The solution, I found, was simply not to worry about it. Just let Will tell his story and see where it goes. If there are other events happening 'off screen' then that's fine. It just means more responsibility on the writer to ensure that the experience is a satisfying one for the reader. And it is the you, the reader, who will determine if it works or not.