Hey You!

It’s I! Or is it she?

The Three Faces of Eve

The Three Faces of Eve (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As mentioned last week, I’m now obsessing over planning my next manuscript.  Today’s obsession, what point of view (POV), tense, etc.  These choices will have great impact on the overall tone and voice of the narrator and by extension, the novel.

First person (I) is and has been very popular for quite a few years now.  Generally speaking, I prefer third (she).  I like the distance that third person offers, with the flexibility to draw in close. First person, in my opinion, too often feels breathless.  It’s the acquaintance you run into on your way home who you smile when you recognize them, “Oh, how nice, I can’t remember why I lost touch with Mr Z.”

talk so fast

talk so fast (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

Five minutes into it, “I’m glad to hear how he is, what’s going on in his life.”   Ten minutes into it, “This has been lovely, but I really have to pee.”  Twenty brain-numbing, eyes-twitching minutes later, “This is why I stopped returning his calls.  For the love of God, make it stop!”

Second person is brilliant when it’s done well, but very few know how to do it well, and I have my doubts about my own ability. The whole goal in fiction is the suspension of disbelief.  Pulling that off while directly addressing the reader?  Might well be beyond my pay grade.

Wondering why I’m having this angst if these are my thoughts on POV?  Me too.  Except I have a certain way of writing, getting started.  There’s always a very clear opening scene in my head, and I write it.  This scene may or may not remain the opening, may or may not end up deleted, but it’s what gets my fingers clicking on the keyboard.  Or pencil to paper, if it’s been too long since I’ve last written. The problem is the opening scene I’m “seeing” for this story is in first person.  Fine if this was a short story, but I don’t know that I want to write an entire novel with that “I” voice.

And just because I know you’re all dying to know about the rest of this Fringey writing process, I usually have a song that is going through my head as I’m planning a new story.  Here’s this one:

Hear that bass track?  That’s the framework I’m seeing, the pacing.  A little dark, a little ominous, but it keeps moving forward with that rhythm.

18 comments

  1. That little catch on the four beat Jack Bruce is stuck on…that’s him questioning his POV. “Am I playing this bass, or is the bass playing me, or should I just tell people what I am playing while I sit here and smoke one?” Dash it all, Mrs. Fringe, use all points of view…you got it in you. My fave second person POV is “Bright Lights, Big City.” Now, if you could use second person like that, you should do nothing but preach while the donation trays passed along the pews. Always sounds like talking down to the reader, you ‘you.’
    Later…

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    1. Thanks, coyotero! 🙂

      Bright Lights, Big City is exactly what I was thinking of when I referenced well done 2nd person POV. 😀

      I think I’m going to have to play around with it for a bit, test the waters, though I’ll happily pass the plate if you’re looking to make a donation. 😉

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      1. Was I writing out loud? Using second person where i should have used first? I will pass the plate, if you don’t mind….and YOU can handle the donations. Leaving the land of warm waves for the frigid Puget Sound…going to need socks, long pants, a real shirt or two. I weep when leaving my flip-flops. Do take pity on a poor lad adrift in the temperate zone. Good luck with that MS…I’m going to be burning one or two for heat.
        Later…

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        1. What? Wait, when?
          What am I missing here? Back to the Puget Sound? Why? For how long? I’m going to check if I missed a blog post of yours, but send me an email and fill me in, please.

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  2. I’m on the same page re 1st/3rd person. Stuff keeps coming out as ‘I’ even though i start as she and I do agree about the short story suiting ‘I’ more. what to do? write the shortest novel in living history? “Yes, I/She can!”
    Gota’ go, your Cream track has finished 🙂

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        1. Ugh, so frustrating. Many writers are able to just move on and go back to the sticky section/scene later. I’m a very linear writer, so that never quite works for me, but have you tried?

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          1. I have, but I’m not happy with anything I’ve tried. I think I put too much pressure on myself. I’m thinking of trying something with the tone of a letter, talking to someone instead of to the reader – even if it doesn’t work I’m hoping it helps me find the right direction.

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  3. I mainly read and write non-fiction so the choice is more between first and second person, rather than first and third. How annoying it is when writers around, sometimes mid-paragraph or even mid-sentence (I know because I do it all the time).
    You have this planning phase to choose and stick to your choice. That is admirable and would save one / he / the writer / me a lot of editing later on.
    (Message to self – ‘self, listen to what this person has to say’).
    🙂

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    1. LOL, I’m not a major outliner, but certain elements of planning are essential to me, this is one of them. 🙂

      To me, things like POV, tense, tone, are interrelated and help shape the actual story.
      🙂

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  4. We’re off today…had a few minutes while husband is looking for his passport – again – which gave me a few to catch up on your posts. I’ve been bad the past week, packing and such, although husband calls it going schizophrenicly whacko. He has no idea how many suitcases it takes for a woman of the world to move about this hemisphere. Ha !
    On my Way…

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