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First Person Singular

Discussion in 'Writers' Workshop' started by Liut, Oct 17, 2009.

  1. Liut

    Liut Well-Known Member

    Interested in getting opinions, constructive criticisms on the "I" in columns.

    I've been guilty in the past.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. "I" have never understood why it's a problem. A column is your opinion, so what's the big deal about mentioning yourself?
  3. Liut

    Liut Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Demo.

    I'm a former sports-talk radio host that gravitated to print. Used to say "I" all the time on air.
    Just feel like I'm being lazy or lacking in creative writing using "I" now.
  4. There will be people who have a problem with it, Liut. I'm sure they'll be here any second now...
  5. wicked

    wicked Well-Known Member

    You can make your argument convincingly without using the first person singular. What little I've read of Red Smith comes to mind. There is nothing wrong, in principle, with using it, but it very often is used as a crutch.
  6. smsu_scribe

    smsu_scribe Guest

    I guess it's not wrong when used in a column. Personally, something about reading "I" in any story is a turn-off for me. Even in a column. Like wicked said, an argument doesn't need "I" to be convincing.
  7. Mystery Meat II

    Mystery Meat II Well-Known Member

    Before E. Except after C.

    The problem I have with first-person singular isn't because it's inappropriate to denote opinion. It's that we should be able to word those opinions a little more elouqently. Better writers don't have to remind you that they're the ones writing. Weaker ones (and talk show callers and story commenters and the like) generally do. There's 100 exceptions for every rule, and there surely are in this case too. But at best, it's the sign of lesser structure and at worst, a sign of egomania (read this because I wrote it).
  8. tdonegan

    tdonegan Member

    I'd echo Mystery Meat's point, though I haven't written many columns.

    As a reader I'd say using "I" has a place, but only if you're talking about something that specifically happened to you, such as an anecdote of some sort. If you're writing a column about taking your kid to their first baseball game and you do backflips to avoid writing "I" then you may want to see a therapist and get some things off your chest.

    Simply saying "I think" every time you're interjecting opinion though is usually a tip-off of a rushed column, to my eyes.
  9. CarltonBanks

    CarltonBanks New Member

    I was once called out by the dean of motorsports writers, Chris Economacki, for using "I" in my columns far too much. But I think "this writer" or some of the other alternatives sound clunky. Tough one.
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