Saturday, August 24, 2013

Will It Be I, He, She or You?

I    He    She   You

Since our oldest granddaughter is going to be applying to colleges this year, I paid close attention as I read Lacy Crawford's article in Saturday's Wall Street Journal, titled Tell Harvard What You Think.  It was an eye-opening article about writing the personal statement on a college application but it also gave me a thought for today's blog post.

The part that jumped out at me as a writer was the one and only sidebar shown in the article. It said The first person is a mighty tool. Use it. Ms Crawford is referring to the college application essay, but I immediately thought about writing fiction. I like writing stories using the first person. I enjoy reading stories written in the first person.

Why? When I write a story in first person, I can climb right into the head of my main character. The longer I write, the more I can feel my character. I begin to understand her in a way I might not if I wrote strictly using her name or she as done in third person. I feel as though I am living the story because of the use of I. It definitely feels more personal than if I wrote the story in third person.

Similarly, when I read a story written in first person, I seem to be living the story. I relate to that character, sometimes even thinking I am that person.

I have read only a few short stories using second person or you. Some writers think it a fun and unusual technique, but when I read a story written that way, it irritates me to no end. It actually sets my teeth on edge. Obviously, not everyone has this kind of reaction because editors continue to publish stories that have a zillion you words in them. I guarantee that you will never read one of my stories written this way.

I agree with Ms Crawford whole-heartedly. The first person is a mighty tool. Use it.

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