I was planning on continuing our adventurous foray into the modern use of Latin, but then one of my coworkers sent me this screengrab from her Facebook news feed, and I immediately knew I had to share this with all of you.

Who can pick out the mistake here? I’ll give you a hint: it’s not the semicolon. That’s actually being used properly.

The real problem is the fact that Gabe here switches between third person and first person in the same sentence. That’s just poor form.

There are three narrative modes that are most commonly used in storytelling: first person, third person limited, and third person omniscient. A description of those three modes is blog fodder on its own (and I’ll probably cover it next week), but the important thing to take away here is that when you commit to a mode, you need to stick to it through the sentence/paragraph. There are writers who mix narrative modes because they might have multiple characters who the plot revolves around, but the switches generally don’t take place until a break in the text, perhaps at a chapter break.

Please don’t make the same mistake that Gabe did. He has the added indignity of broadcasting his ignorance of narrative mode rules all over Facebook. You are Write Practicers. You are better than that.

PRACTICE

Well, we like taking rules and then pushing them to the exact opposite of what we tell you, right? So your mission today is to write for fifteen minutes while changing narrative modes as many times as possible. Post your practice in the comments, and take some time to read the work of other writers here.

Liz Bureman
Liz Bureman

Liz Bureman has a more-than-healthy interest in proper grammatical structure, accurate spelling, and the underappreciated semicolon. When she’s not diagramming sentences and reading blogs about how terribly written the Twilight series is, she edits for the Write Practice, causes trouble in Denver, and plays guitar very slowly and poorly. You can follow her on Twitter (@epbure), where she tweets more about music of the mid-90s than writing.