Sunday, March 31, 2013

First Person, Second Person, Fourth Person Future - Once Removed

By Rich

Warning: This column was posted on April 1st. Enough said.

So, you've decided to quit your full-time job, anger your family, and become a writer. First, welcome to the world of the clinically insane. Second, there are some important rules to impart. For example, commas, are your best, friends, and should, be used, in as, many, places, as possible. Another rule - WRITE ALL EXCLAMATIONS IN LARGE LETTERS - PEOPLE LOVE IT!!!

You also need to know what voice your story is told in. For example, memoirs are in a first person format to make sure readers feel every ounce of pain the narrator did when they were a drug-addled child of Shaolin monks who traveled the country selling Tupperware and throwing stars. By the way, steal that idea and you'll hear from my lawyers. Here are some brief descriptions of voice you may want to pass along to others at literary conventions. Don't worry - they'll be laughing at you, not with you.

First Person Present - A story told by the narrator as it happens, usually to some anonymous party dragged into hearing the never-ending play-by-play. Bathroom scenes are particularly harrowing, especially if the character downed several bowls of Five Alarm Chili ahead of time.

First Person Past - The narrator recollects events that previously occurred to them for someone else to hear. Usually it's to a friend, stranger waiting for a late train, or Dr. Phil, who constantly interrupts the narrator with "So how's that workin' for ya?"

Second Person - A companion of the story's main character who ends up narrating the tale. Normally angry they aren't the First Person voice, the Second Person tries to come up with ways to off the protagonist.

Third Person - The most common narration style, the Third Person is omnipresent, knowing everything happening everywhere. They read characters' inner thoughts, translate their facial expressions, and butt into the most intimate of situations. The Third Person tends to be arrested on trespassing and Peeping Tom charges.

Fourth Person Future Perfect Past - The narrator is some dude who sees parts of what's happening and tries to put it into an intelligent story. Think of the works of Albert Camus or 50 Shades of Grey.

Use as many of these voices as you want. Heck, put them all in one story and make up some of your own. Then, get ready for the rejection letters from agents and publishers to pour in. So, without further ado, get thee to writing!


Patricia Stoltey said...

Oh, my...

Teresa Coltrin said...

The many voices of writing, indeed.

Great start.

John Paul McKinney said...

I hear voices but I'm not sure if they're first, second, third, or 4th person. Wish I had a nickel for every time I heard my Dad start a sentence - read threat - with, "The first person who..." Thanks for the fun, Rich

Linda Ann Nickerson said...

Fun way of explaining this concept to non-English majors ... and the rest of us!

Happy A-Z!

Share a Post