Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Writing Update

You might remember that a couple of posts ago I mentioned an idea I’d had to kick-start work on a story that had been plaguing me and just not feeling right. At the time I didn’t want to mention what the idea was because I wanted to run it by a couple of my close writing friends first. Well, I’ve done that and they both went, “Damn, I like this.”

Before I go on, I need to tell you something about the story itself. Way, way back – I’m talking over ten years here – I started writing a story which was sort of semi-autobiographical and based on my time during my first year at university. At least, it started out that way. The main character developed into more of ‘this is what I would have loved to have been like’ rather than ‘this is what I was like’ and most of the other characters grew and changed as I wrote the story until they were nothing like the people they were initially based on.

But I never finished the story. What I did finish is up on the StoriesOnline website, but read it at your own risk. It’s about a third of the story I wanted to tell, it rambles at times and feels as if it’s out of control. That said, I got a lot of reader feedback as I posted chapters and what people were telling me about how they felt about the story and characters was, for the most part, what I wanted them to feel when I wrote it.

But his was all before I discovered The Fishtank and all the progress as a writer that I made there and since. Now, I’m going back to the story and trying to look at it afresh. The main character has stayed pretty much the same, as has his ultimate love interest, but many of the other characters have altered and the plot it totally different. In fact, I an starting to think that this story may even be a trilogy – but that’s getting ahead of myself by a long way.

But…

It’s hard to put into words what was quite wrong with the new version of the story I was writing. I guess when it comes down to it, it just didn’t ‘feel’ right. Until I had my Big Idea. And what was that Big Idea?

A First Person narrator.

Okay, so it doesn’t sound like a big deal, but for me, it is. I’ve heavily resisted the first person for the last five or so years because I think it’s very difficult to pull off without sounding ‘amateurish’ and I didn’t think I had the skill to do it. But the more I looked at this story, the more I felt that it was what this story needed. One of my writing friends, my editor actually who reads everything as I write it to keep me on track, said after something like eight or nine chapters that she didn’t have a reason to care abut the hero, or any of the potential heroines. And that’s what was missing – the third person narrator felt… dry? distant? I can’t quite put my finger on it, but when I re-wrote the first chapter with the hero narrating, the story acquired the spark that had been missing.

See what I mean by looking at the two versions of that first chapter. These are downloadable Rich Text Format documents – Third Person   First Person

See the difference? Do you agree with me that the first person version is better? Or do you prefer the third person version?

Either way, I’m setting about rewriting the thirteen chapters I’ve already written in first person, and I’m confident that the rest of the story will flow better as a result.

But, as always, I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

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