Which person?

Writing with the intent to sell can often be a confusing task. There are so many “resources” available to would-be writers that often the amount is overwhelming. Many of you, even if you aren’t writers, have seen the Reference section of bookstores. Now, multiply that times fifteen or twenty and you might come close to having some understanding of the sheer volume of “help” books for writers. About the only way a writer can pick out books that might be beneficial is to get them based on recommendations from other writers or trusted writer type friends…or just pick blindly.

Attending conferences and workshops are also great ways for the writer to learn. But even then, the information gathered from these places doesn’t always agree. One respected writer or editor will tell you to do it this way, another respected writer or editor will tell you to do it exactly opposite what the first one tells you. It can be very confusing for writers who would really like to sell what they write.

For instance: I was always told that the serious writers, those who want to sell their work to the market, do not write stories in First Person. A story told in first person is the sure sign of an amateur or beginning writer.

Before going further, I’ll remind those who don’t know or may not remember; there are 3 main “persons” in which stories are told: First Person, in which the narrator is telling us the story. Those can be picked out by the use of “I,” as in “I picked up the sword and moved forward.”

Third Person is the most common and the narrator is generally an omniscient one who can see into the heads of multiple characters. These stories can be picked out by the use of “he,” as in “He picked up the sword and moved forward.”

Second Person is the least common and is actually very awkward for most readers to read—including me. These stories can be picked out by the use of “you,” as in “You picked up the sword and moved forward.” I’ve never read a Second Person story that I’ve liked. Never. It’s just awkward.

So, because I was told pretty much to avoid first person, I am surprised to find books being published regularly in first person. In fact, the last half-dozen books I’ve read have seemed to be first person; certainly the last few “superhero” books. My current read, Leaper, is in first person, as was Soon I Will Be Invincible, which I reviewed here. I’m enjoying Leaper and for the most part enjoyed SIWBI. Which really causes brain malfunction in someone like me. Okay, so I was taught not to write in first person because that’s for the folks who “wish” to be writers…and yet I’ve recently read two pretty good books—published books—both of which are in first person. Does this mean that editors and publishers aren’t as “smart” these days? Does it mean that the quality of writer available isn’t as good and so publishers must “settle” for first person stories? Does it mean the reading public doesn’t really care? Does it mean that times are a’changin’ and first person stories are now cool to write? Does it mean that all the folks who’ve told and taught me that first person should be avoided were wrong?

So many questions…so few answers.



Filed under writing

3 responses to “Which person?

  1. ChrisH

    I vote for the ‘reading puiblic doesn’t really care’. I like a good story. Period.

  2. ChrisH

    Would help if I could spell, wouldn’t it? That should be READING PUBLIC! Sorry!
    (But I still like a good story)

  3. Pingback: Leaper by Geoffrey Wood « Roland Mann’s Ramblin’ Weblog

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