Thursday, June 13, 2013
Person: Writing tip
Living in a small California town in the mid-1960s, Rebecca Gallagher and Riley Parker are two young playmates, neighbors, and best friends when they first see a mysterious light glowing from a dark grove within their neighborhood. More than a decade later, nearly every other factor in their lives has changed, and it seems the only things that have remained true are their unfaltering trust in each other and the existence of that same hidden light.
Question from the E-mail: Someone said my manuscript had mistakes in "person." Any idea what that means?
Answer: Person is a grammar term defining how the character is addressed. There are three kinds of “person” as far as writing is concerned.
First Person, I narrator. We are INSIDE the “I” character and see and hear (and taste and feel) whatever the “I” character does.
Second Person, writing a letter, or addressing the reader directly as “you.” Second person is usually regarded as a mistake unless it IS a letter.
Third Person, the viewpoint character is “he” or “she”, or the given name, never “I” unless they are speaking, but the reader is still inside that character’s body, thinks with that character’s mind, and feels with that character’s heart.
Once you have established person, you should not switch from one to the other within the same story. Many times an author will decide to change from a third person to an "I" narrator in hopes of finding more reader involvement. When this happens, any he, or she that refers to the main character and still remains, can be a mistake in person.