Oh no, not 1st person writing!
There is a clear bias against first person writing in modern lit. Most mainstream bestsellers are third person. And thanks to George R.R. Martin among others, the current trend is constant perspective shifts.
That can work in certain stories, but 1st person is still a valuable form of artistic writing. It helps readers connect with one individual so deeply that they carry the spirit of the character with them. The question of whether or not first person writing will survive has come up too many times lately.
Why do readers not enjoy first person as much? Most writers seem to love it.
It’s a beautiful way to explore another person’s mindset and really delve into the psychology behind humanity. First person books are my favorite. From Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre to Richard Smyth’s Wild Ink, these are the kind of works that really grab hold of the reader and make them FEEL.
I fear that is the problem. There are numerous memes and gifs about how reading is an escape. Society has become so set on trying to get people to read that we have forgotten the importance of the actual CONTENT.
Sure, sometimes you just want to sit down and lose yourself in another world. But reading and writing are not about escaping, they are about finding ones self through the stories of others. Books should make you think. What a crazy concept! haha
There are more writers than anyone could every meet nowadays, more books than a person could read. The options are amazing. More options make us better people, as long as we use our discretion and look for what strikes us.
First person may be too painful for some. I could not stomach Night by Elie Weisel. I understand the importance of it. But sometimes a heightened empathy for an author and/or situation can really take its toll. Regardless first person books are becoming a lost art. (Or so I’ve been told)
I have written in first and third, and published more third. Publishers don’t seem to listen as well to first person. It’s almost as if they are more inclined to publish third mainly because it is what’s popular. That makes sense to a degree. The publishing industry is a business therefore they are going to go with what makes the most money.
This is where the struggle between creativity and capitalizing off of art comes in. Where is the balance? More and more authors seem to be forced into self-publishing to avoid the constraints put on their content. I am not a fan of self-publishing myself. I’ve been burned by too many books that seems thrown together because the author had no patience and no editor.
I am currently shopping around a new novel. It is a third person adventure tale that will most likely find a home quicker than any of my first person tales. That’s the way things are right now and I accept that. But my next book will be first person. It is where my heart always goes. Alternating to do what works is something that a lot of authors seem to be doing.
So how about you guys?
Do you have a preference? Agree or disagree?