Having finished the first draft of my second short story in two months (and the requisite cutting of 25% to get it down to the required word count), I jumped into writing novel #3. Last Sunday I got the first page written and then stopped. I realized that writing in the first person is a skill I don’t currently have.
My previous novels and short stories were all 3rd person limited (or tight), where it’s like a Go-Pro was attached to a specific character and the story was told from their perspective, but not in their voice – so no “I”. Me being me, my character pass the camera around so there are different points of view given, but each scene is told through the eyes of only one. I love books structured that way, and for me it gives the ability to share insights that a single narrator couldn’t provide. But I digress.
I thought with this book I would try something radical and stick to a single point of view throughout and tell it through the narrator’s own words. Look at me being a rebel!
But telling a story using “I” isn’t coming naturally to me. My first attempt felt really clunky and a little creepy as I thought of it as me inhabiting someone else. That one page was a wrestling match. So what is a story teller to do? Since it was early days in the novel, I could easily have switched it to third person without any trouble. That wasn’t what the story wanted.
So I’m now writing a short story to work out the kinks. I went back to my trust First Line publication and started using their prompt.
Like Haruki Murakami, I’m what’s known in literary circles as a “pantser”. I just let the words flow without a plan. I did that for almost three pages on this story when I said to myself, “Shit, this really needs a point.” I spent my next writing session thinking of a location and various plot possibilities. I’m not a fan of group brainstorming activities, but on my own I love it. Lately I’ve gotten really good at finding solutions by just letting my mind run free.
Of course now that I have a direction to take this story, I realized I could have simply written it in my novel’s world. Oh well. This was more fun. I have space travel and cage matches – two things my novel is lacking.
I love that I didn’t take the easy way out and back away from first person. Look at me growing!