Should Authors Mix Their Person (Author’s Voice) Within the Story?
Fran Cook, Publishing Assistant
When people converse with others in person, they may talk directly, with “I” statements, otherwise known as the first-person voice. Faster than the man with the “S” on his cape, people can turn that conversation into a second- or third-person voice, and it still makes total sense. It’s allowed and expected in speech.
In written form, there are polar-opposite opinions on whether authors should keep the same voice or change it—with caution—in the story. Some say that authors need to decide early on, which voice their book’s message will speak through, remaining voice-consistent for the reader’s benefit, understanding and perhaps sanity.
On the contrary, many authors speak of bon-a-fide exceptions where changing voices—or persons, as Jessi explains—must be exercised to enhance the story and clue the reader in on certain attributes. Jessi offers clarifying advise to use the person (author voice) that feels natural. Write just as you naturally speak. When in conversation, as spoken of earlier, people don’t vacillate between which pronouns to use, they just speak. When writing your book, pay attention to the overall tone and don’t get caught up in which person did I just write in?
Overuse of any one person can dull the senses of your reader. If you use You, You, You, soon You seem bossy and unattractive. Your first person “how to” book may seem too self-absorbed—me, me, me—if you don’t have a good checks-and-balance filter to equalize what or how you are conveying the message.
With most things in life, moderation, balance and good old common sense rings true. Again, there are those who pinky-promise until “death do them part” that writers shall use only one person or else. The take-away is use all persons at will, but with caution.