First Page of Forbidden Forest

Tuesday, May 31, 2011
I'm trying to decide whether to use 1st or 3rd person. There seems to be an unwritten rule that classic fantasy be written in 3rd (it sounds more formal, for one). But I kinda like to break rules. Let me know if the third person works for you.

Forbidden Forest

Chapter 1

Mud squelched between my toes. Shoving my spear-shaped hoe into the ground, I lifted a sodden lump of earth and scattered three seeds inside. I did this over and over again as rain ran down my face, dripping off my nose and chin, and my back clenched into one big cramp. But I didn’t let any of it slow me. If I finished fast enough, Shan and I would have time to go fishing in the river. And I’d finally be free of the mud and the drudgery . . . for at least a little while.

When I finally ran out of seeds, I straightened up with a sigh to roll the kinks from my neck. “Sella’s, time to go,” I called impatiently to my three-year old sister. When she didn’t answer, I threw off my damp smelling wool hood to look for her. But instead of freshly plowed fields, all I saw was a thick black-green line of the Forest.

All the blood seemed to leave my body, pooling with the water in cold puddles at my feet. I’d strayed too far from the village—dangerously close to the Forbidden Forest.
Like hunch-shouldered sentinels, the enormous trees strained toward me like reaching arms. I grabbed my hoe and held it like a spear—a dull, mud caked spear. I knew it was laughable, but I felt a little better with it in my hand. I took a startled step back, my eyes automatically searched their shadows for the dark face of a Treeman.

“Sella?” I called again, and even to my own ears, my voice sounded hollow. How long had it been since I’d last seen her?


  1. Traditionally, writers wrote in third person, and when world building it seems to work for most. I like to say write what you know, what's comfortable for you. Plus, more and more writers, especially for YA, are turning to first person POV.

    Need I say that I LOVE the first chapter to Forbidden Forest? It's really descriptive without bogging into details :)

  1. I don't think 3rd person necessarily belongs to classic fantasy. It's just that wrting in 1st person is a relatively new thing in the greater scheme of things. Therefore, classic works are all 3rd person.
    Personally, I'm a bit weary of all of the 1st person these days.

    I enjoyed your page.

    Just a note: I'm assuming "hallow" there at the end should be "hollow"?

  1. Shanella said...:

    I'm not usually a fan of 1st person though most of the books I read (YA) are in 1st person. I love 3rd person for building worlds and also to get out of the protagonist's head. Sometimes I don't like knowing what's going on in their head at all times. I prefer to know just what I need to know.

  1. Weaver said...:

    I like what you've written.

  1. I don't like novels told in first person. That's just me though.

  1. Maybe, since most are 3rd person, you should go ahead and try 1st person! What you've posted here works - so go for it!

  1. Ing said...:

    I like first-person narrative when it's done well. This piece sounds good to me...keep doing it, I say.

    I think one reason third-person POV seems to be the *only* one in fantasy is that it seems easier to explain and describe things like magic and bizarre beasties in 3rd person; it lets you take a more omniscient view of things when you're not obligated to always look through one character's eyes. However, that might also explain some of the bad examples of fantasy writing; merely detailing the world the characters inhabit rather than giving it life through the characters.


  1. Unknown said...:

    I am a HUGE fan of first-person. I especially like writing in first person present tense, especially for my Faerie/Changeling stories ...
    So, I tend to vote yes for first-person ...

  1. LC Piper said...:

    I love your writing because I pulls me from sentance to sentance.
    I've read too much poor reading lately that I have to drag my eyes across like sandpaper to get through it.
    Maybe I'm a lazy reader, but I love it when a writer pulls the reader across the page. Your writing is great. Can't wait for Witch Song.

  1. Kris: Exactly. As I've slipped more into the world building, 1st has felt forced and unnatural. I'm so glad you like it! I've been working hard on it.

    Andrew: I fixed it. I always screw up hallow and hollow in the first draft. Thanks!

    Shanella: I'm finding the world building very difficult right now.

    Donna: Thanks, sweetie!

    Michael: I know. ;)

    Steven: Hmmm . . .

    Ing: 1st worked really well until I got into the Treeman's world. Then I needed to desribe lots of things. You can't get metaphorical and give the bigger picture.

    Rowan: I love your name!

    Luke: Oh, good metaphor!

    So, I've decided to switch to third person. 1st worked super well until I needed to get really descriptive. Although know I have to do find and replace for all my, me, I, myself, etc. And then I have to go through and fix the capitalization etc. UGH!

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