The Use of I

I chatted with a friend the other day about using the word “I” as a tool to get a point across. She gave up using the first person perspective in her poetry because all the people she critiqued it with- including college professors- thought that meant it was a true story from her perspective.

I was a little amazed at that. In stories or poetry I tend to use the first-person as a different way to tell the story, rather than a truthful telling, but it really made me think about the run-of-the-mill authors who use it in that way and things I’ve heard about first-person.

If 90% of amateurs use first-person perspective, are they writing what they know and doing a somewhat truthful account of something? That really lowers my value of some of those amateur fiction accounts. I think when the first-person is done well it can really sell a story (even literally!) but it isn’t often handled with the necessary care. I’m betting that’s why most of the fiction we see published is in 3rd person limited viewpoint (about 90%).

I am a storyteller. Just because I write something, doesn’t mean it exists anywhere but my mind. If you believe it’s real, so much the better for my ability to weave a tale. Never confuse the written words with the author behind them – the best ones will always make you wonder.

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