Wednesday, July 16, 2014

No Respecter of (Third) Persons: Part Two -- The God Problem (an IWM post)

All right, so we were talking about third person and why it's preferable to first, especially when you use it. Again, I don't necessarily mean you you, but I do mean the general you that's out there, 95% of whom are all writing in first person. Seriously, there was a study. Okay, well, I bet there really was a study, but I'm not actually citing any study. I'm just saying... The actual study was actually with ewes, and that study found that all ewes, all ewes that write, that is, write in first person. As it turns out, ewes aren't very imaginative, and most of the stories they write, something like 99.8% of them, contain a wolf or a big bad wolf as the antagonist. The other .02% contain a bear. The most frequent line in manuscripts by ewes is "I was scared," followed closely by "I was afraid," and even more closely by "I was terrified." Some of them write in present tense, too, so it's "I am scared."

The literary history of sheep. It's a thing.

So anyway...

Why shouldn't you write in first person? You should definitely go back and read part one of this to find out the obvious reasons. The other reason is larger but more subtle. Not as noticeable in general but more pervasive. It's the thing I think that most often wrecks first person manuscripts. I call it the "God Complex."

* * *

And this is the part where you need to hop over to Indie Writers Monthly to find out the rest. If it was me, I'd want to know. I mean, having a God Complex is a serious thing, and you have to diagnose it early if you want to do anything about it. God viruses are hard to beat. Go read!


  1. Who gnu ewes write?

    Headed over...

  2. Gary gnu. He's the one who told me.
    (And there's a joke NO one will get.)

  3. Andrew, Andrew, Andrew…haters gonna hate.

  4. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I'm headed over.

  5. L.G.: Um... I don't know what you mean. Do you mean hating sheep?

    Maurice: "You should be."

    Crystal: Yea!

  6. You might check your math on those percentages. You've got one more zero than you need.

  7. The financial potency of first person begs to differ with this post.

  8. TAS: True. But it's sheep math.
    See how I got out of that?

    Michael: I don't disagree with the money thing, but that doesn't make it good writing in most cases. Of course, in most cases, it's not good writing no matter what perspective it's written in.
    >cough< Snow Crash.