Well, my lovely WIP, working title “Flower Zombies” is finished. I’ve mostly decided that my next project will be the story of how Zerieth, from “The Open Hand” switched from the Red Road to the White Road. It will be a first-person narrative, something I’ve only done once before.
I mentioned this to my partner and he told me he can’t really see/doesn’t really understand the distinction between first and third person. As I tried to explain more thoroughly and we discussed it, I realized several things. One, there are a lot of details and specifics about grammar and things like person and tense that I myself dont fully understand. For example, even when writing in third person, characters refer to themselves in a first person manner in dialogue (of course dialogue seems to be a bit of an exception to a lot of things.) This all led me to two, which is that in some cases, many of the linguistical and grammatical distinctions we make are rather fine ones…my other half, several times, said the differences in terminology and execution seem a lot like “splitting hairs.”
In my experience in workshops and the like, we as writers are strongly encouraged to use a very close third person POV/style in our stories. I do feel that once you get into an ultra close third person POV, the distinction between third and first becomes rather blurry…in many cases it seems to consist primarily of pronoun use. Often writers are, however, discouraged from using first person, especially if they are relatively knew to the craft, and third person omniscient is, it seems, generally looked down on.
Funny part is, a large part of the reason I’ve elected to do this particular story in first person is because Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a professional, SFWA recognized publication, seems to publish a very large proportion of first-person narratives (I haven’t read that many of their stories, but every one I’ve personally read has been first person, and I know from numerous rejection letters that the editor is big on being “in the head” of a character.) The other part of the reason is that the story is going to be largely internal, it just makes sense.
Before I started participating in writers workshops, I knew there was first person and third person, but that was basically it. I didn’t know about all the 8,888 variations of third person, or anything about writing in second person, nor much about tenses. I’ve learned a lot and I think those things are important and useful to understand. However, I think it’s also important to remember two things. One, all of that all those terms and concepts are things somebody made up somewhere along the way…they are terms and tools. Two, I don’t really believe most regular readers pay much attention to or are even aware of those types of distinctions. The conversation just reminded me, once again, that as an artist it’s not good to get to hung up on terms and rules.