A 1st Person Narrator, A 2nd Person Narrator And A 3rd Person Narrator Walk Into A Bar…

A 1st Person Narrator, A 2nd Person Narrator And A 3rd Person Narrator Walk Into A Bar...


First Person Narrator: Sorry I’m late.

Second Person Narrator: You could have called.

Third Person Narrator: [motioning for drinks to be served] Everyone got here in the end. That’s enough.

First Person Narrator: Right. I’d like to call this meeting to order.

Second Person Narrator: Of course you would.

Third Person Narrator: [shaking head] There they are, squabbling within the first 30 seconds! The charter said this was supposed to be a supportive and encouraging writer’s group for everybody.

First Person Narrator: Really? That’s not how I read it.

Second Person Narrator: Course not. You think everything is about you.

First Person Narrator: Well, I’m the most popular form of narrator for first-time novelists, so it generally starts with me, which makes it all about me, as far as I’m concerned.

Third Person Narrator: [slurping with relish] A wise man once said: he who encourages the growth of others, grows most within himself.

Second Person Narrator: You call that wise? Surely you mean irrelevant?

First Person Narrator: Could everyone who isn’t me please shut up? Now, as I recall, last time I suggested that we should prepare an emotional piece about writing.

A 1st Person Narrator, A 2nd Person Narrator And A 3rd Person Narrator Walk Into A Bar...


Second Person Narrator: You didn’t suggest. You demanded.

First Person Narrator: Did I?

Second Person Narrator: You think that you’re the boss. But you’re not. Even you should know that second person narration is the imperative. Without second-person narration, you lose the majority of the textbooks that educate your children.

First Person Narrator: Well, I don’t know that. So not everybody knows that.

Second Person Narrator: That’s because you’re so caught up in yourself. You have the most limited knowledge of any of us about what’s going on. But of course, you can’t even see that.

Third Person Narrator: The task this week was very difficult. It wasn’t easy to create an emotional voice in the third person. Not to mention the fact that when a writer writes about writing, it can sound terribly self-indulgent.

First Person Narrator: I didn’t have a problem with it.

Second Person Narrator: Well, you wouldn’t, would you?

First Person Narrator: [ignoring Second Person Narrator] One minute, I was looking inside myself, wondering what I thought about my writing process – and the next minute, I had written sixty pages about my childhood, without moving a muscle, or any time having passed at all.

Third Person Narrator: [slapping the table] But isn’t that the problem? Nobody wants to read a story where nothing actually happens.

Second Person Narrator: Exactly. You need proper characterisation, and action, and jeopardy. There’s no jeopardy when you stay inside your own head.

First Person Narrator: But why would I want an arbitrary plot, when my view of the world is so fascinating?

Third Person Narrator: Readers need some sort of a sense of the narrator in relation to the world around them, and to other people. Without that, there is no story. And that wasn’t the only problem with this assignment. There’s no tension in writing about writing.

First Person Narrator: I’m used to people feeling jealous of me. If I’d come in here with a measly one-pager, I’d probably feel a bit useless too.

Third Person Narrator: At least a third-person narration can tell an actual story. Even that measly one-pager has a beginning, a middle, and an end. Three narrators met up to talk about writing. They argued, and to their great surprise, ended up dead. Third person narration told that story start to finish, and even reached a conclusion at the end. A first person narrator’s story would have died with them.

A 1st Person Narrator, A 2nd Person Narrator And A 3rd Person Narrator Walk Into A Bar...


First Person Narrator: I can tell a story just as well as the next guy!

Second Person Narrator: Only if you risk it reading like a boring monologue. Now, a second person narrator – that’s how you grab your reader by the throat. You haul your reader into the story like they’re the only person in the world worth talking to.

First Person Narrator: Yeah, right. Even I know that second person narrators are notoriously difficult to maintain throughout an entire story. I remember my first writing class – it was a cold January day, and I was wearing purple crushed velvet and my mysterious grandmother’s amethyst brooch. It was just before I met Oscar, before I knew what love was, and before I knew what loss was too – anyway, my writing teacher told me that second person narrations are often considered contrived and irritating.

Second Person Narrator: You’re contrived and irritating. Besides, if you’re not able for it, you shouldn’t do it. It doesn’t mean that other people aren’t better at it than you.

Third Person Narrator: This is getting repetitive and tedious. Something needs to happen, and fast.

Suddenly, a bunch of stereotypical gangsters burst into the room with high calibre assault rifles. They shoot all three narrators in the head, before realising that they’ve hit the wrong targets. Horrified and guilt-ridden, they then shoot themselves.

Omniscient Third Person Narrator: The End.

  80 comments for “A 1st Person Narrator, A 2nd Person Narrator And A 3rd Person Narrator Walk Into A Bar…

  1. September 20, 2016 at 7:26 am

    When I stop laughing, I might make an intelligent comment. Or then, not.

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 20, 2016 at 9:20 am

      I’m afraid that pretty much fulfils the criteria for an intelligent comment in a meta kind of way. So, too late.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. carousel1234
    September 20, 2016 at 7:30 am

    You nailed it with ‘my mysterious grandmother’s amyethest brooch. ‘ 😂

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 20, 2016 at 9:22 am

      Well, as I always say, Carolann, nothing’s more mysterious than amethyst. Diamonds have no filter, they tell you everything.

      Liked by 2 people

  3. September 20, 2016 at 8:33 am

    Hee hee – brilliant!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. September 20, 2016 at 8:36 am

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – you should be on telly!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 20, 2016 at 9:22 am

      As long as it’s not the six o’clock news, Colin, I’d be happy to comply.

      Liked by 3 people

  5. September 20, 2016 at 8:39 am

    That was absolutely fantastic!
    I prefer the Third Person Narrator… but I already knew that 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • September 20, 2016 at 9:23 am

      I think I do too, Sarah. I realised soon into this piece that I was being WAY more sympathetic to that character!!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. September 20, 2016 at 11:46 am

    LOL. Great piece. Just when I was wondering if I should change the narrator in my story… I think I’ll stick to third person while finishing my WIP, wouldn’t want it to be about “me” all the time 😉 Love the amethyst brooch.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. armenpogharian
    September 20, 2016 at 12:18 pm

    Great stuff. Reminded me of three arguing children whose omniscient parent settles things by going nuclear then feels guilty about overdoing it and gives them ice cream and cake.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. September 20, 2016 at 12:21 pm

    Tara, your narration sensation deserves an ovation!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. September 20, 2016 at 3:47 pm

    Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    Writer(s) – know myself, thyself, themselves…? Is it horses for courses, Shankses pony, or My Little Unicorn (‘cos 1st person always lives in a magical world)… Playing God has to be the best doesn’t it? 😛

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Sue Bridgwater
    September 20, 2016 at 4:19 pm

    Reblogged this on Skorn.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. September 20, 2016 at 4:39 pm

    It’s a beautiful thing this post. That is all.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. September 20, 2016 at 7:46 pm

    Well darn, you’ve gone and spilled all the beans I was trying to keep secret. One of my current projects is second person and I had just come to the GENIUS conclusion that the really personal second-person is always somewhat accusatory, just like yours here! Which implies that there really is an “I” in there somewhere too… and that could be almost as mysterious as an amethyst. Thanks for another “gem” of a writing piece!

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 20, 2016 at 11:11 pm

      My pleasure Will. And I’m glad to hear my second person narrator isn’t the only bossy boots around here. Seeing as they’re all really just projections of my personality it’s disturbing when I don’t like them that much!!


  13. September 20, 2016 at 8:00 pm

    You could never be repetitive and tedious Tara.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 20, 2016 at 11:21 pm

      Sounds like a challenge to me, C.J… Hmmmm. Leave it with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 21, 2016 at 10:38 am

        I await your next post (or perhaps further down the line) with bated breath Tara.

        Liked by 1 person

  14. September 20, 2016 at 8:36 pm

    Oh, well, I laughed, I cried and now I’m confused. Who to use to tell my story, I’ll let them fight it out on the pages too. Thanks for posting, puts it all into perspective.


    • September 20, 2016 at 11:24 pm

      As long as I haven’t kicked off a new trend for using multi-perspective narration we’ll all be okay Cindy. I don’t want the publishing industry queuing up outside my door to kick me!

      Liked by 1 person

  15. September 20, 2016 at 11:24 pm

    Very interesting! :D.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. September 21, 2016 at 10:56 am

    You’re too smart by far Sparling. This is why I will never try to write a book. Often, my draft recipe posts start out in first person and drift into second. It really annoys me that I can do that with a fecking recipe! What chance would I have with a book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2016 at 11:58 am

      Actually, even more so than textbooks, I believe recipes are the most prolific users of the second person, Conor, and I quite like the way yours drift seamlessly from a philosophical first into a witty directional second. Don’t be annoyed. It’s your thing – and a multi award-winning thing, at that!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. September 21, 2016 at 11:28 am

    Well, I think this is one of your best, Tara! Since your posts are so incredibly good to begin with, this is very praise indeed. I admire the way you managed to sustain the joke so very naturally throughout and then finish (quite literally) with a bang. It didn’t even have a Donald Trump ad underneath it to spoil my reading pleasure. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2016 at 12:02 pm

      High praise coming from you, Bun, above all else! Thank you so much. I’m glad you didn’t see the ad. I naïvely didn’t take much notice of WP’s warning that they might run ads on my site until I realised they’d be advertising stuff I would never allow if given the choice.

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 21, 2016 at 3:18 pm

        The praise was deserved. I can’t say the same for the ad, though. Donald Trump! Seriously? What a terrible thing to hang round the neck of any self-respecting blogger.

        Liked by 1 person

        • September 21, 2016 at 5:28 pm

          Well, we’d be assuming I had any self-respect, but I know what you mean. I feel fortunate that a reader made the effort to point this out to me, but also duped by WP to an extent.

          Liked by 1 person

          • September 22, 2016 at 6:05 am

            I agree. The last thing I want is Donald Trump’s face anywhere near my blog. It’s like being endorsed by Vlad the Impaler.

            Liked by 1 person

            • September 22, 2016 at 4:19 pm

              I don’t want Donald Trump’s anything near my blog, Bun. Especially not those minuscule hands.

              Liked by 1 person

  18. September 21, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Brilliant – should be a must read for every aspiring writer. First person has been the ‘in ‘writing method in recent years – presumably favoured by all the creative writing degrees and courses. It can be fun to try and can really let you get inside a character, though that is balanced by having only their view of the world. Second person I’ve never tried. That does seem contrived, probably why so few writers use it. Third person is the norm, tried and tested. The fourth option is to pick and mix in one book. Some writers do it, though I can’t name one offhand. Might be fun to experiment.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2016 at 1:57 pm

      It’s funny the way they go in and out of fashion, Dorothy, and we barely even realise it’s happening. But a common example of mixing would be a crime novel where the detective is written in the 3rd person and the killer in the 1st, for example. Clare Mackintosh’s I Let You Go – the major hit of the year – uses all three, introducing a menacing second person narrator almost half way through which shouldn’t work, but it does. Just goes to show what happens when someone has the courage to experiment, and the skill to pull it off.


  19. September 21, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Oh, you’re too clever. I’m gonna give up writing tomorrow afternoon awestruck and desolate. Either that or invent a new style: 5th person reversed or something like that. I’ve always written 3rd person until a couple of years ago when I tried 1st person and quite enjoyed it.

    And I’ve never seen Donald Trump adverts on your blog because I use an arsenal of adblockers, script blockers and cookie munchers. It’s a wonder I can see anything on a webpage, but I’m going to visit my own blog anonymously to see if there are any Donald Fart adverts on there too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 21, 2016 at 10:58 pm

      I like the idea of the new style, Chris. Any chance you’d perfect it before I steal it? Thanks.

      In the meantime, seeing as you’re so well versed in ad blockers, could you tailor make me one which targets specific ads to do with Trump, flatulence, and crinkle-cut beetroot?

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 22, 2016 at 10:43 pm

        Crinkle-cut beetroot is unstoppable. You’d have to turn off the computer t stop those ads getting through.

        You’re free to steal the beta version of my fifth person unmentionable thing.

        Liked by 1 person

  20. Karen Baker
    September 23, 2016 at 12:21 am

    HEY…. That was a great way to get across the different ideas in perspective! Loved it!

    Liked by 1 person

  21. September 23, 2016 at 10:38 am

    Thank heavens neither Vladimir Nabokov nor Harper Lee lived to read your blog — Lolita and Mockingbird would have been very different books, I fear..

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 23, 2016 at 11:16 am

      I think we can be glad that lots of people don’t read this blog, Kathy. It could mean death to creativity and self-esteem everywhere. So far, it’s only affecting mine 😉


  22. September 23, 2016 at 9:53 pm

    This is hilarious! 🙂
    I don’t see any ads at all, and hope my blog doesn’t have them either.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 24, 2016 at 12:51 pm

      I think you get a lot of traffic, so unless you’re paying WordPress for an upgraded plan, I’d say you unfortunately do. I think depends on what jurisdiction you’re viewing it from. It’s another notch on the belt of that old saying, ‘if something’s for free, then you are the product’…

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 24, 2016 at 8:04 pm

        No, I have a free plan. I can see the ads on some blog, but not on yours.

        Liked by 1 person

        • September 24, 2016 at 8:33 pm

          Irish web users probably don’t get targeted by as many ads as in the US. They’d be bombarded over there.

          Liked by 1 person

          • September 24, 2016 at 8:53 pm

            It might be the reason. Yet, they should have displayed the ad for you to see it. It is your page, after all.

            Liked by 1 person

  23. September 24, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    This entirely explains why I have made no progress for over two years on my next novel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 25, 2016 at 11:01 pm

      Me too, Hilary. Although I have lots of other stuff to blame too. Including the compiling of lists of stuff to blame for my lack of progress….

      Liked by 1 person

  24. September 26, 2016 at 8:29 am

    There are some things I just can’t get my head around. POV is a very dodgy one for me. What for feck’s sake is a second person narrator? Is it even possible to sustain that beyond two paragraphs without going mad (reader—I’m assuming the author already is)? Personally, I think omniscient is the greatest, then you really can play God with the plot 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 26, 2016 at 11:01 am

      It seems to depend largely on genre, Jane, from what I can make out. Omniscient is great for describing action, but not as effective for, say, romance or literary fiction, which is why 1st or close 3rd person narrators are most popular there. I think the key is seamlessness. If the reader barely notices which one you’re using, and isn’t confused as to which character’s head they’re supposed to be in, you’re a winner!


  25. September 27, 2016 at 10:12 pm

    Too funny, Tara. I think you have the voices down! My favorite line:
    Third Person Narrator: The task this week was very difficult. It wasn’t easy to create an emotional voice in the third person. (Ha ha ha)
    Yes, I’ll ignore Donald. It took me a while to realize that I was seeing a bunch of ads everywhere and not the enthusiastic support of my fellow bloggers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • September 28, 2016 at 10:19 am

      If I manage to nail the voices in my actual fiction, Diana, I’ll be more than happy – but I’m not sure it’s happening! I’m sorry about the ads. I was horrified to think that anyone thought they had anything to do with me.

      Liked by 1 person

      • September 28, 2016 at 1:33 pm

        Now, now, I’m sure the voices in your head are all behaving properly, Tara.
        Yeah, those ads. I coughed up the “no ads” fee and felt ripped off while doing it, but I hated having those on my site. It was horrifying!

        Liked by 1 person

  26. September 28, 2016 at 3:07 pm

    I have always fancied the second person narrator…. I was always drawn to control freaks.


    • September 28, 2016 at 7:35 pm

      Aren’t we all, Scarlet? No wonder politics is in such a state.


  27. October 24, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    “Second Person Narrator (To First Person Narrator): You think that you’re the boss. But you’re not. Even you should know that second person narration is the imperative. Without second-person narration, you lose the majority of the textbooks that educate your children”.

    I like those statements from 2nd PN to 1st PN… I have recently read a post by a blogger who is also an editor and finally began to understand what the Second Person is all about!.
    Great post, Tara. Thank you… best wishes. Aquileana 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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