Writer’s Log: Supplemental – First or Third Person

Since the very beginning, I always wanted to tell my character’s story from her perspective, but I struggled with writing in first person.  It is not an easy perspective to write in, especially if you do not have the required experience to convey the correct emotionally responses.  As a teenager, I knew how relationships worked logistically, but I did not under the underlying nuances that develop with both sexual and platonic relationships: the compartmentalization of societal labels and how we express ourselves through a variety of masks that correspond to the person or situation we encounter.

All I knew was anger and resentment at that point in my life and, while that could have been something to build on, it eventually consumed the whole story.  I lost the point of the plot to an argumentative narrative that developed into nothing more than an angry woman standing on her soap box and screaming into a bullhorn.  I spent more time focusing on my protagonist’s feelings of anger and frustration than constructing the core foundation of the plot.  I also ignored establishing crucial relationship links between supporting characters, not knowing how to connect them to a particular scene if I wasn’t writing from their perspective.

Over the years, I’ve debated whether or not to switch to third person.  The sentimental part of me wanting to stick it out in the hopes that we’ll overcome this crippling challenge but, the realist in me knowing that a lot of progress could be made if we just made the switch, especially now when it’s such a blank slate.  I’ve been trying for the last year to write in first person and while it’s been an easier process, I still find myself creating both hard and loose ends that refuse to tie themselves together.

Recently, I spent sometime in Colorado, visiting a close friend of mine, and had what I would consider the biggest break for me in regards to my story.   She had forewarned me of the possibility of her working and I decided to take advantage of some uninterrupted writing time.  That was when I began to free write my novel’s backstory as a way to flesh out a particularly tricky three-way relationship I’ve been struggling to link for quite some time.  Six pots of tea and eight hours later, I had a whole backstory written in third person.  The next day, we returned to her work again, and I returned to my writing.  I had suddenly tapped into a vein of creativity and I wanted it to capture it before it ran out, like it usual does for me.

Upon returning home, I looked over what I had written whilst on my “writer’s retreat” to Colorado, and for the first time I was happy with what I had laid to digital paper.  Third person provided the fluidity that I’d been searching for, giving the story substantial depth and character development rather than a one-sided argumentative narrative.

This past weekend I also spent a lot of time figuring out what direction my story was heading in, what the end goal is.  JK Rowling says that she knew the ending to Harry Potter years prior to its release, and I’m in no way comparing myself to her Majesty but I do find that sentiment to be a relevant point for any artist: the culmination point, the “what has this all been about” moment.  Third person has pointed me in the right direction, everything is starting to fall into place: the connections, the secrets, the betrayals, the retribution.  I feel like I’m making great progress with the switch to third and I’m really excited to see where I go with it.

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