The Horror! The Torture! The College Students!

Well. It’s been a while since I talked to you all. Today I am going to talk to you about perspective and beginner writers.

There are many different people that will have there own opinion and knowledge on the subject. Many of whom are much smarter than I am and are much better writers as well.

But today I am going to give my opinion on the subject as I am an opinionated S.O.B. and I feel like standing on the soap box.

You see, yesterday I wrote the majority of this blog post in a tiny note book as I was being tortured by an unspeakable horror. I was taken captive by my wife to go to listen to her college creative writing class read portions of there ‘manuscripts’. (Please note that I did find about four of the story exerts enjoyable. My wife’s was included in that number.)

I use the term manuscript lightly.

In there defense, they are all mostly beginners and they don’t know any better. They don’t know about show, don’t tell (unless you want to). They don’t know about proper dialogue techniques. Or plotting methods to make a story easier to plot out. They don’t know about a lot of things that only experience gets you.

But all of that is okay. I can usually ignore those mistakes and enjoy the moment. I can usually try and turn off that critical part of my brain. To simply enjoy listening to these passionate new writers enjoy the beginnings of their journeys as writers. But I couldn’t. Not that night.

Which is why I wrote this blog post on a tiny note book at the back of the crowded room.

The reason for my lack of enjoyment was the fact that most of the writers wrote their pieces in First Person Perspective. Author after author did it. Like herpes, it spread to most of the class and wouldn’t go away.

So as I sat there, I wondered why did they do it? The first answer to jump into my mind was that it is a college setting and it is all ‘Literary’ fiction. And that theory is possible. But there was a fantasy novel and a historical one. There was a Horror and a couple comedies. Maybe the fact that colleges push the notion of ‘Literary’ fiction isn’t the case.

Maybe the teacher gave them permission and encouragement to do First Person? And that theory is also possible. The teacher is trying to get them to put pen to paper and if a student was going to write in first, who is he to stop him. She is writing, right? Right?

Or maybe the students were all lazy and thought that writing it in First Person was the easier way to go? They are college kids after all and most of them don’t have fine arts majors. This class was supposed to be an easy elective to break up the hardship of their major. A reprise.

My theory is that it is a mix between the second and the third theories. The teacher gave permission and encouragement. And the students were just being lazy. The students took what looked like the easy road.

But is First Person Perspective the easier way to go. Is it easier than Third Person Limited?

My opinion is no. It is not easier. It seems like it at first glance. Like that flat straight farming road. No turns or curves as far as the eye can see. But just beyond sight are dangers. by taking this road for it can quickly turn into a mud pit if you don’t tread carefully.

First Person is more restrictive than Third Person Limited.

In First Person you can’t see or hear anything outside of the range of your main character’s sight and hearing. If the main character can’t see it or hear it, they don’t know about it.

That leads to situations where it is impossible to move the plot forward. Or the plot moves forward but the writer has no way to tell the reader what is going on as the main character doesn’t know. It is also very hard to hide anything from the reader without coming off as cheating.

It is very hard to jump back and forth in time and forget about showing a different characters Point-of-View as writing a book with multiple First Person Point-of-View’s is not something anyone should try. Too many ‘I’s’ to keep track of. There is no ‘I’ in team.

In Third Person Limited, you are inside the Point-of-View of one specific character. You can hear the thoughts of that character when you want to. Or not as you see fit. You can’t, however, hear the thoughts of other characters around the Point-of-View character.

That is Third Person Omniscient and different than Third Person Limited. Also not apart of this blog post.

In Third Person Limited, you can run into similar problems as First Person. It is limited as the reader is only experiencing what the Point-of-View character experiences. He has no knowledge of what is happening on the other floor, etc. But with Third Person Limited, you can always jump into the Point-of-View of another character to let the reader know what was happening. If is easy to hide things from the reader without coming off as cheating.

Like First Person, you are still describing the setting, etc from the Point-of-View’s perspective. The intimacy that comes from a First Person Perspective story is still in a Third Person Limited, but just less of it and only at the authors discretion. However, with Third Person Limited a standard pitfall is the characterization coming off as hollow or only skin deep.

So does First Person have a time and place to be used?

Simple answer. It does.

On the other side of an airlock.

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