I'm back to studying this week, and today I've been reading in What If? Writing Exercises for Fiction Writers. Two juicy bits:
"Too often writers begin a story in the first person because it makes them feel closer to the story, yet the voice isn't unique enough to warrant first person."
Interesting observation. You see the first person a lot in YA and children's books, and often the narrators do all sound the same. So now, after reading that line this afternoon, I'm thinking, yes, first person should sound unique. That should be the determining factor in whether or not to use it and not, Oh, this is a kid/YA book, shove a first-person narrator in there.
In a section on child narrators, the book quotes Christine McDonnell (a children's/YA author with virtually no Internet life as far as I can tell) on adult books with child narrators versus children's books with child narrators:
"In adult fiction, when a story has a child's point of view, usually the child is scrutinizing the adult world, trying to make sense of adult behavior or adult society, as in J.D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye...the scope of the story is larger than childhood. Children are windows onto a larger picture, and that larger picture is of interest to adults."
I don't know about anyone else, but I find that very helpful. Though I still wonder how adult books like Catcher in the Rye and To Kill a Mockingbird moved from being adult books to being considered YA.
Adult writers ought to think about this--Catcher and Mockingbird are probably still in print and relevant today because they were shifted from adult to YA, meaning they are taught in schools and on all kinds of reading lists. The classroom--that's where big sales and even immortality can be found.