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  • andrewverlaine

Writing in first-person plural

My novel "Stigmaplay" is told in the first person plural (apart from the virtual reality sequences - these stories within the story are told in the second person). The novel is told from the point of view of a group of individuals called the committee, who have devised a series of VR simulation narratives. it can seem a bit gimmicky switching between the two unusual voices, but I think both are thematically relevant to the book.

Notwithstanding the members of the committee each have their own personality, the use of the first person plural conveys the sense of them acting towards a shared goal (and hey, maybe I didn't want to pick just one of them to have a primary point of view). The "we" and "us" employed by the committee is also ambiguous as to whether it includes the reader. (This might not work in translation, for languages that have different forms of first person plural that distinguish whether the listener is included or not.)

It can be a bit tricky technically, as I move into third person when talking about a particular individual from the committee. However, I think the tone the first person plural creates is worth the trouble. Writing in third person would just seem a little too distant. I could have used a first person singular for June, a beta tester for the VR simulations and the most sympathetic character who keeps the narrative more grounded. However, I felt the tone of the book would be quite right with this perspective.

A Guardian article from a few years back discussed a few examples of first person plural, worth a read:

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