I’m describing this blog post as inane because you can discuss technique until you turn orange or blue or green in the face, but it won’t help if you aren’t a little inspired and a lot willing to work and write and draft and rewrite.
But I’m still going to talk about perspective because I’m having a conundrum and maybe Louise will comment and tell me what to do. Or maybe someone will think of an example I can consult.
Here’s part A of the dilemma. First person is intimate but it’s limited. I think it may also be more difficult for readers to relate to — unless the writer makes the narrative voice exceptionally compelling, but first person does provide a very clear dividing line when you are trying to differentiate characters one from another. You might think this is not the best use of perspective (that characters should be easy to differentiate from one another because they are actually different). But take for example a story about twins, told primarily from the perspective of one twin. Maybe it’s about their childhood and their shared experience growing up but also about the particular experience of one of the twins. Both aspects of the story are important — the dual and the singular, but the singular perspective of the protagonist twin is primary while the dual perspective and the experience of the second twin is more or less secondary.
Here’s part B of the dilemma. Think of fantasy and science fiction, or imaginative fiction or magical realism or speculative fiction or literary fiction — whatever you want to call it. From J.R.R. Tolkein to C.S. Lewis. to J.K. Rowling to Madeleine L’Engle to Roald Dahl (to… there are more but I’ll stick to the mainstream), all of these writers wrote their masterpieces in third person. I think. So I’m asking, do you have a counter example? Something that fits the novel/fiction genre, that is enduring in the classic sense or alluring in the grandiose sense and well-written according to the critics, and that is also written in first person? I’m not saying it can’t be done or that it hasn’t been done. But it’s not common. So I wonder a little why not and also if I’m missing something big. Maybe the first person seems more childish -?
Perspective is a tool. We make choices as writers to use certain tactics in the telling because the tactics serve our purpose. I’m trying to make a decision about how to approach a story and the tool seems obvious but when I use it, it sounds wrong. So I know it is wrong, but I have to rethink the approach.
Just thought you all might be super exciting to hear about my boring-est of thought trains.