You again

There was a time when I was taught to avoid first person at all costs (or at least know that it's much more difficult to write and to sell, and be prepared to work hard to get it right, and work harder to find an agent and/or publisher).

Has that changed?

You get the oddest emails some days. Some days you wonder if writers sit around in cyber cafes and dream up questions with cogent sentences, and understandable words, yet still make no sense whatsoever. You retire to your couch and pour the first of what is sure to be many gins. You gaze at your poodle who dons a sombrero, fetches his custom made ukelele and serendes you with "I I I I, I'm the First Person Bandito".


Anonymous said...



Happy Days said...

Go ahead and snarkle at us poor authors. You probably aren't awake at 2:30 a.m worrying about this very same problem.

Agent K has requested a full on a manuscript that was written from a first person present tense POV. The only problem is that I have since revised the entire thing into past tense, based on the very same advice the above poster received.

Boy, is Agent K going to be surprised!

To snarkle: To snicker and chuckle, while making rude comments at another's expense. NOUN: A snarkle. The sound usually heard just before the cluegun fires.

John B said...

I, for one, only buy first person novels. They put me right in the action, plus I get to choose my ending.

takoda said...

How about "Al Capone Does My Shirts" --a Newbery Honor winner. It's written in first person, present tense.

Great read, check it out!

Anonymous said...

The prejudice against first person is still fairly prevalent in romance circles (it used to be the kiss of death; now it just inspires doubtful frowns and turned-up noses). And some people simply won't read it. So this is not just another feverish fantasy of a fearful writer.

It's good to know that agents (or some agents, at any rate) don't share this silly prejudice.

(P.S. Has anyone had trouble choosing the "Other" option choosing the ID for a comment? Lately, whenever I click on it, the page goes boom and my comment disappears entirely. Thus, I sign myself anonymous, having no other choice.)

Ryan Field said...

I think all this is coming from e-publishers (I'm learning they have their own "ways").

Anonymous said...

I've learned to ignore this little piece of 'advice' from other writers.
My advice: don't listen to advice.

Rei said...

My advice: don't listen to advice.

That's why I always write with comma splices, I also use dead words that are of the particular type that slow down what I'm trying to say, along with mixed metaphors that leave readers as confused as a wolf in a henhouse's clothing.

BuffySquirrel said...

Hah, no, ryan, I heard of the prejudice against first person narrators before there were such things as e-publishers.

Eep. I'm old.

Pepper Smith said...

All three of me epubbed novels and my anthology stories are first person, and I've read first person ebooks, so it's not industry-wide for epublishers. The prejudice against first person comes from other places as well. I think some folks have just run up against poorly written first person and apply their experience there to all first person. Which is a shame, because well-done first person makes you feel like you're actually there, experiencing the story yourself.

Anonymous said...

Miss Snark, I love how you always respond to questions about 1st person in 2nd person.

Don't sweat about 1st person. Write what feels right. If it's good writing someone will buy it regardless of the POV you use.

The Anti-Wife said...

Okay, so for my memoir, should I start with,

1. I was such an idiot.

2. You were such an idiot.

3. She was such an idiot.

This could alter my entire manuscript and require massive find and replace maneuvers.

Cynthia Reese said...

It's all in the execution.

First person IS supposed to be the kiss of death in romance ... especially category romance.

However, my debut novel, THE BABY WAIT (Harlequin Superromance April '07) is in first person. I asked my lovely and talented editor during The Call whether or not I would need to revise the POV, and she said no ... but she did warn me it might impact sales and reviews.

FWIW, none of my reviews have dinged me on the first person bit -- and I have some stellar ones, so ... it's all in the execution.

Don't you hate it when we say that?

Lucy Kemnitzer said...

You should start your memoir with what you have right there, anti-wife, all three sentences in order just like that.

Niteowl said...

Much of the prejudice against first person POV is because it's used by many beginning writers. That is, so much atrocious fiction is written in this POV it conditions a well-seasoned reader to avoid it entirely. (this is not to say that said beginning writers won't get better, of course)

ChapterKat said...

And I thought I was the only one afflicted with the Echoing Frito Bandito Jingle Syndrome.


Sounds like Miss Snarkidoodle is a ripe old tomato, just like me. Gotta love it!

Yasamin said...


Anonymous said...

The prejudice against first person is still fairly prevalent in romance circles (it used to be the kiss of death; now it just inspires doubtful frowns and turned-up noses).

Romance writers spend too much time worrying about what is and isn't marketable.

Is there something about the romance community or genre that encourages thinking about marketability before even thinking about the quality of the writing? I mean, all writers think about this stuff, sure, but romance writers seem to obsess about it way more than writers I've met in any other genre.

Surely nothing is the kiss of death if it's done well enough, least of all POV choice.