Friday, 6 August 2010

First Person Blues by Lynda Waterhouse

I woke up this morning with the First Person Blues. (It was two weeks ago when it actually happened). I opened a historical novel and read the first line and stopped. It was written in the first person. I stopped reading. I felt cheated.
Then I went back to the story I’m working on. Its current title is called ‘Magic Moments and the dull bits in between.’ It is a story set in a fancy dress shop in a northern seaside town with a cast of characters that includes an incognito movie star, drag queens, a new age dandy and a flashback to 1976. It was written in the first person.
I always begin writing in the first person. It is often the music of a character’s voice that inspires me to write. Now as I am overcome by the First Person Blues I start to rewrite. Everything changes. The vision of the story broadens. I allow myself a few sentences to linger over descriptions. I agonise over the tone of the mysterious authorial voice. The rhythm of the language changes. I literally feel on top of the story. An all seeing eye and not a hand held camera.
Does anyone else ever get an attack of the First Person Blues?

6 comments:

王李慧萍政勳 said...

感謝分享 功德無量............................................................

Jan Markley said...

Love the title. My debut novel and the rest of the series will be in first person. I'm writing a y/a in third person and was told to write it in first person because teenagers like that. Ultimately, I thing the pov depends on the story you are telling. No need to get the blues though.

Katherine Roberts said...

Interested to know what brought this attack on, Lynda?! What was that offending first line, and why do you think you felt cheated by it?

Gillian Philip said...

Oh this is so interesting! I can't seem to write in third person, or not successfully. I've just read a fantasy book - written in omniscient third person and with no individual point of view - and while I loved, loved the story and the adventure, I was completely frustrated by not being inside one particular head (whether 1st or 3rd person).

But more importantly, I love the sound of your new story.

Linda Strachan said...

I know exactly what you mean. I too have been struggling with this problem recently.

I love to write in the first person but sometimes you do want the broader picture, to be able to describe something in words your character just would not use.

I've also written in first person from different characters, but the problem there is to make sure they are really distinct so that the reader is not confused about who is speaking.
I also find that I need to hear the person's voice in my head before I start to write, but I have at times gone back and changed it, writing in the third person once I have the voices of the characters in my head and know them better.

Leila said...

I think first person is much easier to write than third person. In third person you're effectively constructing a further character than the ones involved in the story - and that character has to be an interesting one too, even if they're a disembodied author. And they will have their own angle, their own way of telling things; tongue-in-cheek, or macabre, or dead-pan, for example. In first person you only need to get into one head, whereas in third, you have to get into everyone's plus the narrator's - and know how the narrator feels about everyone in the book, too.