I’ve been reading since my dad hammered the art of phonetics into me when I was seven. Most of the books I read have been in the traditional third person, but lately I’ve noticed a surge in first person novels that seem to be outpacing their traditional counterparts. This trend has got me wondering; why is first person making a comeback, and where is this pattern going?
The first novel written in first person that I can recall read ins is Maximum Ride (James Patterson). The writing was fresh, humorous, and told from the prospective of a female protagonist–a first in my male dominated reading at the time. I discovered theses same qualities in Magic Bites (Ilona Andrews) when I came across it a few years later and was equally addicted. I followed these books for years and loved reading them. Yet, despite their seeming popularity, they were drowned in a sea of third person novels.
That, however, is quickly changing.
In recent years, the number of first person novel’s has skyrocketed. I’ve read the Percy Jackson Series (Rick Riordan), The Hunger Games (Suzanne Collins) and the Divergent Trilogy (Veronica Roth). I’ve also read the His Fair Assassin Trilogy and–most recently–The Pledge Trilogy (Kimberly Dierting)–both in first person. Aside from the fact that most of the novels I’ve mentioned have female protagonists–of which I imply nothing–all these novels are adept at getting you mored directly into the protagonist’s head, a point that even I am not immune to.
I’m currently writing a trilogy in first person. Was I influenced by the novels listed above? Their seems to be a high probability of that, all things considering. Writing in first person–I’ve discovered–is a highly torturous process that should be avoided at all cost. Not only was my hand written draft of the first novel horrendous, but it read like one of those beginner books; Dog sees Cat, Cat sees Dog, Dog chases Cat…….etc. It took a tremendous amount of effort to make the writing passable. So, why am I self inflicting this torture upon myself?
I blame the book. Seriously, I do. When I first came up with the idea, I wrote what would become the prologue and a chapter of the novel itself. Both were ‘journal’ entries of the protagonist and those were written in first person. As a result, the book practically wrote itself in first person and thus, I’m stuck with it.
Prior to this, the only large collection of first person novels that I was aware of were in the realm of classic novels. The style seems to be on a resurgence. Will first person narratives continue to increase, decrease, or become the preferred method of story telling for the 21st century? I don’t know, but when the style fits–write it!
Disclaimer: I do not own the imagery used in this blog post and have no artistic claim to it.