Writing in first person.

A client once told me that they don’t write in first person, whether it’s the singular ‘I’ or the collective ‘we’. I asked them why and I understood something to the effect that it’s not good writing. Like it’s a cop out used by bad writers.

I’ve always loved writing in first person. Contrary to what people typically assume, I think it lends a certain humility to the work I do. It allows me to say that this is only my point-of-view, welcoming others to contribute with theirs. Isn’t that the point of any discourse anyway?

I didn’t argue with the client. Removed the first person angle from the piece, filed and done. I’d also forgotten all about it until I read Anthony Horowitz’s ‘The Word is Murder’. Gosh, he takes the first person narrative to a whole new level. In the book, Horowitz is a character, writer, and the narrator of the story. The whole book is written in first person as Anthony Horowitz, the real person. He inserts a part of his real self into the imaginary world and walks us through it. It’s a bit meta, if you will.

If you’re a writer of crime fiction, there are very few ways in which you can kill someone that hasn’t already been done. Innovation in crime fiction mostly comes through form, and not the modus operandi itself. And Horowitz gives us a cunning and clever take on the form of a murder mystery. If you haven’t read the book, I strongly recommend you do. But the trick becomes stale almost immediately, because the novelty doesn’t carry to the second book in the series.

Perhaps, the grammatical person doesn’t matter so much, after all.