Why nine? Because Top 10 lists are popular, and therefore Boring.
But listen closely, for the case is strong for writing in the first-person plural, which we thought at first was second-person plural, and if we thought about it, which we should, first is better than second.
Also, research via the google proved that languages other than English include other amazing options. Just think of a novel written in fifth person past participle without a single letter E in the text. Think of it. Then think of a book cover with black text on a black background with black accents.
That artist from the ’60s who merely painted a canvas black will get sick with jealousy, and does he even know what presumptive mood is? Unlikely. But he’d talk our ear off about acrylic versus watercolor.
And now the list: Top 9 reasons to write in first-person plural
No. 9 — We create an immediate bond with our audience. We hear our voice, and we like it.
The only way to bond more quickly is if we put instant coffee in the microwave, going back in time.
No. 8 — First person is for narcissistic nancypants, polluting each page of text with “I,” “I,” “I,” and, for variety, strings of “me” and “my.”
It’s not about you, first person singular. It’s about us, plural. Don’t we know that now?
No. 7 — The first-person plural has roots in the Greek chorus, a sturdy trunk from Ayn Rand’s Anthem and green, modern leaves with Joshua Ferris and his Then We Came to the End, which has to be doubly good because it also has “We” in the title.
No. 6 — It’s not “the royal he,” “the royal she” or “the royal I,” is it? No, no, no.
Take it from House Windsor: it’s the royal we. Accept no substitutes.
No. 5 — Third person is common, bourgeois and blasé. How many novels are written in third person, and do we ever read all of them?
There are too many, and the quality varies so much. That’s a sign and an omen, our astrology tells us.
No. 4 — First-person plural creates an emotional distance from the readers, which is sometimes necessary.
It’s like having wealthy relatives we don’t enjoy. We don’t have this problem, but if we did, we wouldn’t wish to spend time with them, but we wouldn’t want to get disinherited, either.
Plus, that exquisite distance creates a sense of foreboding and mystery. If they can never know us, and believe we have no feelings, then we are, indeed, unknowable and omnipresent, literary gods. Or half-Vulcans with Underwoods and a hankering for Jeffrey Eugenides. We’re not sure yet.
No. 3 — A singular narrator can be mistaken, unreliable, reliably unreliabe, obtuse, acute but not cute, scalene or perpendicular.
But we are many, irrefutable, infalliable, translucent, effervescent, a closed plane of certainty and confidence.
We are legion, and it is Good.
No. 2 — Great literature is truly poetry, and great poetry uses first-person plural, such as Emily Dickison and her wonderful, “We send the wave to find the wave,/ An errand so divine.”
Do we want to be great or pedestrian? We choose great.
No. 1 — While second-person point of view was employed by Albert Camus, giving it the sheen of respect, and Jay McInerney found success with Bright Lights, Big City, you cannot ignore the massive volume of pulp fiction detective novels cheapening this choice.
Every such novel began in this sort of crude fashion: “You walk into your office and she’s already sitting behind your desk, drinking your Jim Beam and playing with your .38 special. But she’s got ruby red lips, trouble with the mob and legs that just won’t quit, so you don’t do the smart thing and turn around to leave. No. You hang up your trenchcoat, take out your notebook and listen to her sweet, sweet lies.”
Guy Bergstrom. Photo by Suhyoon Cho.
Reformed journalist. Scribbler of speeches and whatnot. Wrote a thriller that won some award (PNWA 2013). Represented by Jill Marr of the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency.