First person has its draw backs. You can only see what the protagonist/heroine sees unless you adopt a structure for your novel, where the reader can see subplots or the antagonist/baddie going about their business or you can use letters or diaries written by other characters.
But first person can be more memorable: how much less dramatic would the following novel opening be, if it were in the third person?
“Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter, for the way was barred to me” “Rebecca” by Daphne du Maurier.
It draws you like a sleep walker into the dream like story and the sense of danger surrounding the heroine but even as you read it, you are the heroine, you are in danger.
When a character’s a strong individual, first person can work really well.
Veronica Roth is completely at ease in her heroine, Tris in “Divergent” and using the first person takes the reader straight into her life and her world. No matter where she is, you move when she moves, you feel her fear, her pain, so effective is Roth’s style of writing. When she runs to board the train, you know exactly how her feet feel as she begins to jog alongside and you hear her thoughts as she has to increase her speed before she reaches up and clasps an outstretched hand. You are Tris.
In The Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins’ heroine, Katniss is first person point of view as well, waiting for the reader to step into her shoes. We’re inside her head, her feelings for Gale catch at our hearts, her love for her mother strikes a chord and as she fights for her life, we understand her choices in who she will save and who she must kill.
And if you’re still not convinced, Mslexia’s judges for their annual novel competition have just compiled their long list with comments on the factors that affected their decisions. Amongst them was the following:
” … those written in the first person, with a strong and idiosyncratic voice, often grabbed their attention.”
But in the end, it’s the character who chooses the voice, in that moment when they pop uninvited into your head.