So my NaNo story pulled another fast one on me.
“Sup, SP?” it said, sauntering up to my desk at an ungodly hour this morning. I always figure Story looks a little bit disreputable – you know, holes in the jeans, a leather jacket, maybe some tattoos peeking out from sleeves. Oh, and he/she hasn’t combed his/her hair. Story is the person your mother warned you to stay away from.
Anyway, Story twirled my desk chair around so I had to look at it. “I know you haven’t had your coffee yet, and you’re really concerned about that project that was due last night, but I thought you should know that I should be written in third-person.”
I squinted up at Story. “You’re a figment of my imagination. Go away.”
“No, dawg, I’m serious. The first-person isn’t working for me. It’s like Anette trying to sing ‘She is My Sin’ in the original key. It’s cute, but sounds too thin. But if she belted it in her lower register, it would be damned sexy and powerful. Do you feel me?”
Story is like that awful person in your life who shows up looking adorable but never brings anything meaningful to your life. Yeah, they might drop by with pizza now and then, but mostly they just make demands of your time and ask for weird favors.
Not this time, I decided. Story had already changed around the dynamic of the novel by deciding it wanted to be a love story. No way did it get to mess with the narration, too.
“I should put on some music,” I said, turning back to the computer.
“Third-person, dawg! Third-person!”
“Can’t you go bother my landlord or something?”
I don’t know why my novel has decided to call me dawg.
I caved in and wrote a segment in third-person limited, just to see what I could come up with. About half an hour and 1200 words later, I was suitably convinced and wondering why I hadn’t made the switch earlier.
Actually, I don’t really need to wonder. I remember why. I set out writing first-person present tense. Then I broke it into sections (first-person present and first-person past; the latter was the actual narrative, while the former was the narrator talking to strangers years later). It wasn’t sitting quite right with me…couldn’t say why. I liked the intimacy of first-person, the feelings we got as she embarked on her epic journey, but felt the story could stand to be a little larger than the limited viewpoint it offered.
Yes. My novel had intimacy issues.
So now I’m thinking sticking with third-person, and keeping a little bit of first person in the form of journal entries or something like that.
I will say that first-person viewpoints are easier (and more fun) to write when you’ve got a sassy protagonist. Vibeke and her stream of one-liners are fun. Alexis (you might meet her later) is also enjoyable. The protagonist in this story is more serious…I’ll have to go back after all this and check, but I’m pretty sure part of my problem with the story was that I was getting a little bored in her head. And if the writer’s bored, the reader will be bored, and that’s just no good.
Of course, this is going to mean going back and rewriting the 23,000 words I already had…but we knew that would happen anyway. Revision is the better part of valor.