Thursday, May 31, 2012

First person or third?

So you're sitting at your computer typing away on your work-in-progress. The story is going so-so, but the words can't be okay. They need to be great! A thought occurs. What if the book would be better in 1st person instead of 3rd?! You scrap the 3rd person point of view version of your story and start over. Yes, I know authors who have done this! Guess what? The story should've been done in 3rd person so back to the drawing board (okay... the computer program) you go... 

I haven't done the above scenario. How do I avoid it? First, I've been writing for years. During that time I've learned to accept my strengths and weaknesses which helps weigh the decisions involving each story I write. You see, I don't believe I write as well in 1st person as I do most books in 3rd. It would take a very long time for me to write an entire novel in 1st person. 

I have two current releases in 1st person. Cross the Line's idea came to me while I was swimming in the pool. I was new to the apartment complex and didn't know my neighbors. A really hot guy came down to the pool. He sat in the shade and watched me swim. Then came his wife! And his kids! I thought "Oh boy, this would make a really good story." Just so you know: Cross the Line isn't a true story. It came from my imagination :) When I went home I started the novella. I wrote it in 1st person because I knew the length it would be. I wanted a snappy, naughty story so that is what I wrote. It wouldn't have worked as well in 3rd person or if I wrote Cross the Line as a full length novel.  

Here is a scene from Cross the Line: 

I dropped the last box on the brown tiles and worried whether I’d packed anything breakable inside. With my luck, I had. Relieved to be done moving, I was already tired of the new city I called home even though I’d only been in it for a few hours. If I didn’t find something appealing about the place soon, I would be looking into moving again like when I’d wanted to get out of Billings, Montana. Nothing had been wrong with the old place, I get bored easy and like to move around is all.

My new best friend roared to life, blowing cool air from the vents. Ignoring the open front door, I sat down on the box I’d dropped. I did my best to rub the knots out of my lower back, but with achy arms, I wasn’t doing so well. Sweat trickled down my forehead, requiring me to stop my half-attempt at a massage, grab a washcloth from a nearby bag and mop at the sweat. How did people live like this? Why I’d decided to accept the job offer in Phoenix was beyond me. But moving in the middle of the Phoenix summer? Even worse. Now I could understand why Arizona had earned the nickname “the devil’s playground.”

Playground? Not sure that would be the right word choice because I was convinced I’d arrived in hell itself.

A knock on the door made me jump up from the box, making every strain in my muscles and joints become more prominent. The pain quickly faded as a luscious vision in denim leaned against my doorframe, looking sexy as sin.

A shot of heat spread through my body. I had no idea why he instantly turned me on. I didn’t find goatees attractive, wasn’t into the whole tattoo bit, or the almost too tight t-shirt style, but it all looked perfect on this man. This man definitely had the talent to pull off the bad boy look that made women drop to their knees. Me included.

I quickly ran my fingers through my hair. It had once been in a complete ponytail, but was only partially bound by a hairband at this point. I looked like a mess and knew it. What a great way to start out meeting someone so handsome. But that’s my luck and I had accepted it long ago. To make the best of the situation, I wiped my sweaty palm down my jean shorts before holding it out to him. “Hi. My name’s Leslie Teague.”

“Chris Matthews.” He barely touched my hand before dropping it, as if scorched. He cocked his head toward the front of my apartment. “Need help with that truck out front?”

“I would’ve taken you up on your offer a little earlier, but I’m done now.” The lie floated from my lips as if the act came as a second nature to me. I never lied to people and never, ever asked anyone for help. So why did I find myself holding my hands out toward the room full of boxes as if presenting a prize? “Unless you want to assist in moving the mattress to my bedroom?” A few suggestions as to what we could do on that mattress came to mind, but I did my best to keep my mouth shut.


Then I started Dreaming of Him. My daughter and I started writing the book together. We did the plotting. Okay... she plotted her part and I planned on winging the whole thing because that's how I work. I started the first chapter in 3rd person and my daughter decided to let me write the book on my own. Paranormal is not my genre. I've said it before and I'll say it now: Ghosts scare the crap out of me! With that said, I continued the book as a gift to my daughter because she really wanted to read this story. If she would've wrote with me I could've pulled off a full length novel. With it being an unfamiliar genre, I decided to write the story as a novella. I tried rereading Dreaming of Him in the small part of 3rd person I had done already but it didn't work well. I rewrote the chapter in 1st and the words flew from my fingertips. 

Here is a scene from Dreaming of Him: 

While I was supposed to be concentrating on making appointments, taking money from
clients, and being fake-happy, my thoughts remained absorbed with Trace. Who was he, and why
did he come to me night after night?

I couldn’t wait for nighttime to see if he showed up. For some reason, I had the idea that
he served as an important piece to my life and would provide me with the puzzle piece needed to
make me happy again. I should be dreaming of him as often as possible. His coming to me
wasn’t coincidental. There had to be a purpose and I wanted to know what it was.

Perhaps he was my soul mate? The man who would provide my soul mate? After all, I
was still single, so it would make sense. Maybe my dreams were really premonitions. I nodded
as the plan took form. I needed Trace sooner rather than later, and would begin looking at men
who resembled him to speed everything up.

“Want to go out after work?” Myana asked as she walked a client up to the desk.

I glanced at her and then the client, sure that the question didn’t qualify as appropriate
conversation in front of the older woman.

“Well?” Myana asked as I took the client’s credit card and swiped it through the machine.

“Sure.” I still didn’t find going out with these women any more thrilling than I had in the
beginning, but what if Trace was going to be there? It might be an opportunity to meet him.
Locating Trace certainly wouldn’t happen by sitting alone in my condo. I handed the client her
receipt and waited for her to leave the spa before adding, “Let’s go dancing, though. Sitting in
the bar while we drink isn’t much fun.” I actually didn’t want to drink at all. I only wanted to

How do you decide on what point of view to use? 

Wendy Ely 

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