A Matter of Perspective

I am not a fan of first person perspective in fiction, mostly because it’s a limited narrative voice and one that takes supreme expertise to do well. In prospective (unpublished) authors, first person perspective seems to be the fall-back position for someone who can’t quite detach themselves from their main character enough to give them full breadth of life.

Perhaps the only thing worse than first person perspective is rotating first person. The only person I’ve seen do this effectively is Nick Hornby in “A Long Way Down”, and even still, I had to consciously remind myself who was narrating which chapter. Jarring the reader out of the novel’s universe for something as basic as “who’s speaking?” is never a good idea.

So it is with fatigued amusement that I enounter a reviewer who suggests I write my novel from first person perspective. This particular writing community operates on ‘credits’, which means I have to ‘spend’ to ‘reveal’ a review. I investigate the reviewer before doing so, even reading reviews they’ve written on others’ pieces. This particular reviewer must have an affinity for first person perspective because he offered it to approximately three or four other writers as well.

Of course the fact he referred to some peripheral characters in a particular scene as ‘groupies’ when I clearly label them as “girlfriends” multiple times eliminates much of his credibility too.

But I just wonder what his attachment is to first person perspective, especially when I find it so troublesome and restrictive. What about the first person narrative voice does he find so much more compelling than third person omniscient?

Maybe I’ll ask him. But then again, maybe the answer just doesn’t matter.

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