Friday, April 6, 2012

F is for First Person Fiction

Welcome to the 2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge. This year I’m focusing on things I’ve learned, observed and experienced in the nine years I’ve been published. If you’re a reader, I hope to offer an inside glimpse into the writer’s world. If you’re new to writing, I hope I can provide an insight or two. If you’re an established writer, maybe you’ll see similarities to your experience. Whatever path you walk, I welcome you to mine and hope you’ll enjoy the 2012 A to Z Blogging Challenge.

On Being a Published Writer
A to Z Blogging 2012
April 6, 2011
Day 6

Before you read this post, be advised of one thing - opinions like this will not win you friends. I suggest you leave this out of your blogging repertoire. Nevertheless, I believe this is something that needs to be said and I’m at the place in my career where I can say screw the naysayers. You might not be.

Make no mistake. Writing in the first person is very difficult to those who don't know how.

The author must immerse herself/himself totally into the character to create an intimate bond with him/her - and exploit it. The mental and emotional relief of shifting to another character’s point of view is unavailable. For only by that total immersion can the first-person story be brought to life.

There is a Great Debate about whether or not fiction written in the first person is saleable. Many authors boldly criticize first person fiction claiming readers don’t like it. Reviewers, many of whom are published writers themselves, will criticize from behind the anonymity of their reviewer persona. (Read another opinion that won’t win friends when we get to the letter ‘R’.)

Until very recently, all my stories were written in the first person. I decided to do a little experiment and write a story in the third person - Highway Nights. Sales of that book have not surpassed sales of the books I’ve written in the first person. By all accounts and opinions contrary to my own, sales of that book should have outdistanced my other books two to one based simply on the fact it's third person. It didn’t happen, which leads me to one singular conclusion, which will not be popular.

Those who can write in the first person do, and those who can't nitpick about it.

Don’t let anything said here - or anywhere else - dissuade you from writing in the first person if you desire to do so. If you want to try it, you should. It is, at the very least, an exercise that will strengthen your ability to write more depth into your character’s point of view.

And if your story reads good to you, don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t submit it, or that it won’t sell. Believe me when I say “they” don’t know all “they” think they do.

Anytime your instincts tell you you’re more than a one-trick pony, listen and obey. You’ll never make a wrong move if you follow your voice. And if you decide you need to stick with the third person then you should.

But never cut yourself off from trying something new, and learning more about yourself and your craft, based on someone else’s inability to do it.

Never sell yourself short.

KC Kendricks
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MAJK said...

Agreed writing in first person is hard but it is NOT wrong.

*~ MAJK ~*
Twitter: @Safireblade
A to Z Blog Challenge

KC Kendricks said...

I really do hate to see people sell themselves short because someone else said, "you can't do that." And it doesn't matter if it's writing, singing, painting, playing an instrument. Be bold. Live! Write! Play! Find out what you can do!

stu said...

I've written first person and third person (largely according to genre conventions) and they're just tools for approaching a novel in different ways. I think I'd probably have a hard time doing the kind of comic fantasy I'm currently doing in first person, but I can't imagine my urban fantasy novels any other way.

Dawn M. Hamsher said...

First person is really hard for me (I keep reverting back to third), but I do writing exercises to practice it.

I appreciate your encouragement to new writers!

Sarah Pearson said...

I write in both, depending on what I think the story calls for. I know some people don't like to read first person, but that's okay, there are lots of books out there, they won't have to read mine :-)