Use of the first person signals the death of a serious writer. And so it jolly well should. Photo by Joel, Wikimedia Commons.
In this article, the writer will explain to the reader, whom, one would imagine, is contemplating the art of writing, the correct usage of the first, second, and third person voice. The writer will demonstrate, albeit with no lack of sophistication and verve, the descent from the elegant and authoritative third person voice into the lower realms of the common second person voice, and the somewhat distasteful debacle known as the first person.
What is Third Person Writing?
A writer must use the third person when a professional tone is required. The third person is the voice of the true writer: a voice of authority, gravitas and seriousness.
The internet web is a place of unending dross and drivel; a place where children, ruffians and unschooled hacks can bastardize and bring down the written word, and with it language itself.
Such people unashamedly sink beneath the third person voice, proudly displaying a tone and manner unbefitting of a professional scribe.
In this respect, the third person voice is akin to a fine Chardonnay, while anything below the third person falls somewhere between sweet German Liebfraumilch and some kind of hop- or corn-based swill consumed in quantity by the plebeian masses.
What is Second Person Writing?
You will have noticed a certain lyrical strength, a weighty authority, emanating from the third person paragraph above. This paragraph, however, has already sunk into a strange informality. Notice, if you will, the writer’s use of the word “you.” This word refers to you, the reader, directly.
It is amicable, yes, but should nonetheless be used only when attempting to instruct an audience of below-average intelligence, such as children, coquettish young girls, poor people, and persons of a pensionable age.
When a writer speaks to you directly, the authority gained by distance and anonymity has started to degrade. You, as a writer, should use the second person sparingly, and only when addressing the aforementioned audience of infants and mental incompetents. You, as a reader, want authoritative information. You do not want to know the writer, and the writer certainly has no desire to know you.
What is First Person Writing?
Now, carefully note the calamity into which I have temporarily thrown myself. I am now addressing you directly while referring to my very own self, an unclean act akin to pleasuring oneself in public.
The first person voice is that of whores and soldiers; the base, garbled spiel of gutter trash and those fit only for physical acts of exceedingly low purpose. I certainly have no desire to speak to you in this manner. I am a professional, a fact that allows me to contain my distaste and accomplish this first person paragraph with a degree of flair and style.
That said, few writers, quite lamentably, possess a control of the written word such as I am currently demonstrating. Most writers churn out this somewhat debauched first person drivel in a futile attempt to engage a reader, drastically failing to realise that they have displayed their own literary level, a level that resides only slightly below the thighs of a tuppeny-bit, crab-ridden Hackney whore.
I shall now disengage from this example of first person writing, put the kettle on, and run myself a laudanum bath.
After writing in the first person voice, the true writer will wash away the literary stain.
What a great resource!
Thank you, Phlebotomy Certification.
The writer is pleased to hear the reader’s positive response.
What a brilliantly written set of examples, very eloquent.
Thank you, Mr. Kingsnorth. At times one feels as though one should be a beacon, a shining standard for other writers to follow. When one deeply loves the written word, eloquence is much like the air one breathes.
Aaron hops on to his computer because he is simply confused and doesn’t understand the proper way of writting. As he types this message a customer walks into his shop and demands a scrather for a shot to win some money. Sadly the scratcher he just bought wasn’t a winner of any sort. Moments later yet another customer walks in and buys some powerball tickets, slowly hands Aaron his money with shaky hands, almost as if he had a long day or is flat out hungover. Aaron rings the tickets up and tells the customer to have a great day while he is also handing the cash back. Aaron jumps back on to his seat and beginds to type more. He’s sitting here wondering why is it that he’s typing a story on some random webpage. Looks around in confuseion once again. He slowly decides to end the story, he raises one hand in the air extends his pointer finger down and slams it onto the……
I just finished writing my second novel. My first one is titled Father;Unknown and is written in the first person from the viewpoint of a high school girl named Lisa Morgan and since I am a man I had to ask my wife a ton of questions on how she thought a female character would react under certain circumstances. After I completed my first draft and let another female read my novel (not my wife) I found out I was way off base. I had basically written what would have been considered almost a porn novel. I listened to what they had to say and completely re-wrote the novel. Two years and three drafts later and a P G rating I finally got it right.
My second novel is a sequel titled The Line-up. I wrote it in the same first person because I continued on with the same story line and characters. Since I started writing in the first person I think my mind is stuck in that format. I have a third novel in mind and I’m still going to write it in the first person simply because of a habit. Habits are hard to change!