Like many who work in the creative fields, I’ve worn many hats over my career: writer, blogger, editor, arts worker, publisher, teacher, mentor . . . the list goes on. I’ve navigated the digital space and the opportunities it provides while also working with (sometimes for) more traditional publications. I’ve talked with countless people about getting started with their writing, and one of the biggest issues I’ve encountered is that many writers either avoid or stop submitting their work due to fear of rejection. This is understandable.
For the uninitiated, said workshops exist for people to come together and critique each other’s work. Critiquing, of course, is the process of having your story dismissed, categorised and assaulted by a room full of strangers. In other words, it’s like being called up on stage and having your pants pulled down in front of an audience.
When it is done right, a story told in the first-person plural can hold incredible power. In this craft essay, we take a look at successful uses of this point of view and some of its common pitfalls.
“If the first-person plural tries to be too sweeping, if it does not acknowledge its own subtleties, it can miss the mark.”
Here at The Masters Review, we often see trends among submissions. During any given reading period, patterns emerge: sometimes, there are a remarkable number of stories with surreal elements; lately, we’ve been seeing a lot of pieces about drones; for one anthology, we received an uncanny number of stories that involved fish hooks. One of the most interesting trends to identify, however, is the popularity of specific points of view. For a while, we received an enormous amount of stories told in the second person (and we still get a bunch of these). But what we have been noticing a lot of lately (and loving) is fiction told in the first-person plural. Authors are embracing the collective voice—“us” and “we”—to tell tales about group experience.
I am Norma Dunning. I am a beneficiary of Nunavut; my ancestral ties lie in the village of Whale Cove. I have never been there. My folks left the North shortly before my birth. I am southern Inuk, born and raised.
I am a writer. I have always been a writer. I would dream of publishing my writing, but it was easier and safer not to. I kept all of it in a drawer. I would think about publishing, and then I would think about the process of publishing. As an Indigenous, female writer I didn’t want to take it. I didn’t want to take the criticism.