Friday, May 9, 2014

Writing A Novel: Putting The "I" In Writer

My children's writing class is still going well. We have a very small group this time -- in the last class, only two of us showed up -- so we're able to get a lot of attention from our instructor and have many more opportunities to get our work critiqued. It's been interesting, to say the least.

A couple of weeks ago, I handed in an excerpt from my latest work-in-progress, which is a sci fi YA novel. Most of the comments were positive, but our teacher really didn't like that I'm writing it in first person. His argument is that whenever he reads something written in first person, he wonders who the narrator is speaking to and it takes him out of the story. If a novel is going to be written in this manner, he prefers it if the narrator is writing in a journal or speaking to a therapist, or sharing the story with a friend, etc.

I respectfully disagree. I've always assumed that the narrator is speaking with us, the readers. Yes, if you think about it, you do have to question how the fourth wall is being broken exactly, but it's just one of those things when you suspend disbelief. Even when a novel is written in third person, you have to wonder how the narrator knows all of these intimate details about "real" characters. Yeah, yeah, it's the author and he or she knows EVERYTHING, but the whole idea of reading fiction is to suspend disbelief!

I personally enjoy reading first-person novels because I feel as if I can truly get into a character's head. I like writing them for the same reason. I like third person, too, but first person is very intimate. One isn't really better than the other. It's just my preference.

My teacher suggested that I frame the story and have the narrator speak to someone or record his thoughts, but I really don't want to do that. There are some books where this works; for instance, the narrator writes in her journal in Sloppy Firsts and throughout most of Megan McCafferty's Jessica Darling series. This is perfect for that character, though, and doesn't work for my narrator. There are only so many times when a character can keep or journal or talk to a shrink. I don't want to have to depend on that literary device.

My novel isn't even a full draft at this point; it's a few sample chapters and a vague outline of things to come. But for now, I'm sticking with my original plan and keeping it in first person. I'm not sure where my story is going, but I'm secure with this choice.

Meanwhile, check out my other first-person novel REVENGE OF A BAND GEEK GONE BAD.

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