First-person participant? First-person major participant? First-person reporting? Third-person dramatic? Third-person restricted omniscient? Or Third-person unrestricted omniscient?
These were offered to open a forum thread about the narrative voice you prefer to read. My first reaction was laughter. I just couldn’t help it. I’ve been immersed in fiction since I was old enough to hold a book and decipher those black marks on paper. And somehow, to my very deep embarrassment, I missed learning about narrative voices. After a few decades, I became, mostly on an unconscious level, aware of whether the writer’s use of the narrative voice helped or hindered the story. But it wasn’t until I got serious about my own writing that I started learning the names of the tools that writers use.
My education has advanced far enough, now, that I’m familiar with the idea of POV, of first-person and third-person voices, but my reaction to the above list was still laughter and a sense of disbelief. It seems that I’m still pig-ignorant. I didn’t take the courses or read the books that would have explained to me what those rather daunting terms mean, and told me when and how to put them into practice.
Most of what I know about writing, I’ve learned through osmosis, by reading the best, the worst, and everything in between. And learning to distinguish between them, and what makes the difference. I do seek advice, from books or articles, when I need more specific or formal knowledge. But most of what I know about writing comes from a deep sense of what’s right and wrong, what works and what doesn’t. And that comes from a life steeped in the written word.
Listing six narrative voices leaves me with the strong impression of someone who’s taken all the right courses, who may even have several degrees in writing. Someone who reads with those voices in mind, and assumes that other readers do the same. I strongly suspect that this well-educated person who knows the right names for things will do their writing with those right names firmly in mind. And all I can come up with to explain my discomfort is the phrase: rule-based creativity. Which is, of course, a paradox, a contradiction in terms.