This trope applies when the story is told from "inside the head" of one person. If there is a narrative, it will be told as if that person were speaking to us. If there is a camera, it will be looking through that person's eyes. (A related perspective is third person limited, which likewise follows a single character's point of view, but views that character from outside.) It's most commonly used in literature as a narrative technique and in video games as a genre. It is noticeable and notable when it appears outside of those two areas, especially in movie and film where it's relatively rare to see anything directly from a characters perspective, rarer still for it to be maintained throughout. It was a major breakthrough in art when perspectives that no human could reasonably see started to be used in painting, such as a birds eye view.
This, especially when accompanied by first person narration, can also unintentionally function as a Spoiler Opening
to a Genre Savvy
audience, who subconsciously assume (with good reason) that regardless of what happens during the story (who dies, etc.) the viewpoint character must
survive the events in order to be in a position to relate the tale to the audience later.
First Person stories have the advantage that it is very hard for the reader to not feel sympathetic towards the narrator.
While a character being very perceptive or making good guesses is considered acceptable, one of the common mistakes people make in writing First Person is giving the reader the feeling that either the narrator is always right, psychic, or is omnipotent in some way. To involve the reader even more, the narrator can think 'at' the reader, asking rhetorical questions and making Deadpan Snarker
Successful First Person means the narrator is still often wrong about what is going on outside of their line of sight and knows nothing of the thoughts of others, and may even view past events in a different light. It can be hard to let the reader know that they're wrong - for example they're suspicious of somebody who is actually trustworthy.
First Person can be written in the immediate Present Tense
, which means that the writer must additionally be careful that the narrator does not know the future, but has the advantage of the reader not knowing if the narrator will survive the story.
Sibling trope of Second-Person Narration
- Sonic the Hedgehog fanfic My Time Of Dying is written from Scourge's POV, but is also strictly Present Tense. Scouge is consistently suicidal, depressed, and putting his own thoughts through the wringer. He also repeatedly snarks at the reader while mentally voicing his dislike of the more heroic characters like Sonic.
- Lupine Tree is told from the perspective of Jack. Oddly, because he currently has fourteen bodies as of chapter 11,note he can see and narrate multiple simultaneous series of events and can see a situation from multiple angles even if the story itself sticks to strict first person.
- In the Doom movie there's a sequence shot in first person meant to reflect its First-Person Shooter roots.
- In Kick-Ass when Hit-Girl rescues Kick Ass and Big Daddy from Johnny G's thugs, it's done in a First-Person Shooter style.
- In the original Halloween movie the opening sequence in which a young Michael Myers spies on then murders his older sister is done from his point of view.
- Assassin's Creed (2016): During the rooftop chase in 1491 Granada, crossbow shots aiming at Aguilar and Maria are seen from the crossbowmen's and Ojeda's perspective as they shoot.
- In later seasons NUMB3RS used gun barrel perspective as the FBI agents performed operations intercut with more regular footage.