Hello, we're the authors of Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger
. And as you can see from the photo, "we" are actually two people writing as one entity.
So our "we" is not the old New Yorker "we" (which bit the dust over a decade ago), or the royal "we." It's actually the opposite: the peasant, rank and file, or riff-raff "we."
People often ask us how we manage writing in the first person plural. Our standard answer is Michael writes the nouns and adverbs. Margaret writes the verbs and adjectives. And we hire a consultant to put in the articles, pronouns, and punctuation. You'd be amazed how few laughs this gets. At least, it's better than writing in the second-person plural: "Y'all went to Tasmania. Y'all went to search for an extinct critter."
Writing as "we" does present certain limitations. As a novelist friend once commented, "I guess you can't say, 'We went to the bathroom.' " That means no genius lines like this one from Redmond O'Hanlon's No Mercy:
... feeling a sudden lower-gut liquefying twinge... I dropped my trousers, switched off the torch, and squatted there gasping with the kind of peristalsis that propels the Giant squid.
Actually our biggest problems do not involve the lavatory, subject matter, or narrative structure, but individual words. At times, it gets ugly.
Michael [accusingly]: Do you realize we've used the word "massive" three times on this page?
Margaret [bitterly]: So why don't you think up something different?
Michael: We've already used "huge," "giant," "immense," "enormous," and "mega-"
Margaret: Hey!! Don't pick up that thesaurus!!
Michael: Let's see... mighty, amplitudinous, stupendous, elephantine, Cyclopean, Brobdingnagian, Gargantuan, Titanic.
Margaret [weakly]: It's lame to use thesaurus words...
It's particularly lame since our thesaurus was published in 1941. Nonetheless, this is how we resolved the argument on page 288 of Carnivorous Nights:
Suzi took us to see the Chapel Tree. It was a 272-foot-tall eucalyptus, standing on an enormous base measuring 59 feet around. Its buttressed roots were huge, the size of trees themselves, and they looked like the talons of a Brobdingnagian eagle gripping the forest floor.
So as you can see, the whole is always greater than the sum of the parts.
However, this particular post is itself causing a Cyclopean argument. Michael wants to discuss the word "quoll" in our next post. Margaret says, "Nein!"
To be continued...