RARA-AVIS: re:1st & 3rd

From: Carrie Pruett ( pruettc@hotmail.com)
Date: 24 May 2002

>i agree that both work, but it would seem to me
>that first person would be a far greater challenge
>to a writer. iirc, hemingway avoided first person
>(most of the time) because of the difficulties.

This seems counterintuitive to me. First person is a more natural way to write, because it's the way we talk and write every day; life is first person, (provided that you're sane, anyway, and not Bob Dole or a professional athlete -). Also, if you're writing in 1st person, there are a ton of key choices that are already made for you; in 3rd person you have to decide who is observing any given scene, from what distance, etc.

the problems involved in first person seem relatively miniscule in comparison; granted, some stories won't work in first person but it seems that should be fairly obvious early on.

I have to differ with Al's suggestion that you can use a phrase like "the man with the scar" instead of he or the character's name. I find this infinitely more annoying than simply repeating the name - at best, it seems like an obvious effort to keep from repeating the name; at worst it creates confusion about who's doing what. I've read scenes that have 2 characters in them and gotten halfway through the scene thinking that there were 5 or 6 characters (instead of Jim Smith and Bob Jones, I thought you had Smith, Jones, Bob, Jim, the old man, the young man, the blonde man, and the man with the scar all sitting at the bar together). If I wanted to deal with that kind of confusion, I'd read a Russian novel, or the Iliad ;). my pet peeve is when you've got two cops in the car and suddenly a quote is attributed to "the older man"; now maybe I happened to take notice of who was older, but half the time I'm flipping back to where the characters were introduced to figure out what was going on.


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