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Fiction - too much first person narrative!

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Is it just me or does anyone else find that fiction writing is being overrun with first person narrative?


Last night I picked up 3 books from the library. I had found them on various lists and they looked interesting. I was in a hurry and didn't look at them, just checked them out. At home, when I was settling in for some relaxing reading, I saw all 3 were in first person narrative.


I am so sick of first person narrative. Of course I'm not basing this on 3 books. It just seems like the majority are written this way now.


I'm not a fiction writer*, so I don't know, but it seems like first person is the easiest perspective to use. I notice that when my kids write fiction, they fall most easily into writing first person.


My husband asked if these were "women's books" but they are not. He opined that maybe first person is preferred by a generally narcissistic culture. Hmmm...


*I did write a novel once for NaNoWriMo. I know that fiction is hard. But still...


Anyone join me in my peeve?

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I don't find that most books are written in first person. Maybe a lot of kid books are, but I think this is because kids relate better. Even then, I can think of tons of authors off the top of my head who never or rarely write in first person.


Hm, I just looked at the last 10 books I read. Three of them were written in first person, but two of those were autobiographies.

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It depends on the story, but I prefer to read in first person most of the time. It helps me get into the story.


Writing well in first person is hard because you are limited in what you can reveal. It's hard to find the balance of using too much, "I walked...., I did this...., I saw..." while using the benefit of being able to write out their thoughts.



On the other side, I've read some bad third person books as well. Depending upon the third person viewpoint your're using, it can be hard to switch perspectives without leaving the author's footprints all over the characters.


For instance I read a YA novel where the main characters were tweens and adults. The author had the tweens speaking in a manner, using phrases, that they never would have. It was lines that were more fitting to the adult character. It happened several times and was so distracting I had to quit reading.

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Not most, but a lot more than it used to be. I don't like them much either. I feel like you learn more about a character with a 3rd person perspective....first person means they character can only tell you/show you what they know about themselves...so many small mannerisms go unnoticed by the person doing them.


I just finished a book and found it dissatisfying for that very reason. I greatly prefer 3rd person. (although....are the Anita Blake Vampire Slayer books 1st person? I do like those books..but that would be the exception to the rule.)

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First-person narration usually works for me, though I don't much like reading first-person present tense (makes me twitchy).


What I really didn't care for was that late-80s trend of second-person narrative. I blame McInerney. :) I know plenty of other authors (Calvino and Hawthorne come to mind) have done it well, but Bright Lights, Big City seems to have spawned so many dreadful imitators.

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