I know, I know. I’m a shallow action junkie, a trendy poser who wants to be down with the kids. I peddle cheap thrills to vulnerable reluctant readers. I wouldn’t know a proper metaphor if it hit me on the nose.
I didn’t have the self-control to keep my FPPT experiments to the odd recreational use (a party scene maybe, or a druggie flashback). No, it grew and grew…from a sentence, to a chapter, to a book, to a trilogy. Approximately 240,000 words, all about the me, the here, the now. Except the me isn't me, the here isn't here and the now jumps around all over the place.
My next book (still to be inflicted on the world) has two FPPT narrators, and there are no labels to tell readers which boy is speaking, apart from context, syntax and vocabulary. Yes, I am actually trying to confuse my readers. I like to think it’s the written equivalent of a film, shot with a handheld camera. I realise that's trendy too, but it can feel fresh, intimate and exciting. Of course some movie-goers (hello Mum) complain that it makes them feel as though they’re on a flimsy boat on the high ocean in a Force Ten gale. On the other hand, the long-shot, fixed-camera approach can feel tedious, detached and soporific. It rests on the skill of the director and editor, as well as the viewer's taste and resistance to nausea and sleep.
I was virginal (fiction writing-wise) and innocent, if not actually young when I started writing FPPT. I had no idea that I was tinkering with something so controversial. I didn’t even realise that FPPT was considered trendy. Please don’t snort! And I had no idea that First Person was considered easier to write, until I read Lily Hyde's thought-provoking post yesterday. I actually thought it was more of a challenge to write in someone else’s voice, particularly when I tried to overcome the handicaps of a narrator’s limited POV and vocabulary to present rounded characters. I so agree with Lily when she says that every story finds its voice. The wrong form can be as damaging as dull characters or a plot full of holes.
So, yes, I'm open to writing third or even second person. I have no objections to the past tense. I'm trying to break free of my addiction.
It’s just that I enjoy FPPT so much! I love the feeling of that someone else is inside my head. I like thinking of ways in which a limited viewpoint can show more than it comprehends. I like the way FPPT sounds too. So clean, without those messy hads that litter the past perfect.
I especially like the feeling that anything could happen. There’s no safety net. No feeling that someone’s sitting in a rocking chair telling you a story where all the threads have been neatly tied up.
Oh, and there are all the clever things that other writers do with FPPT. Patrick Ness, magnificently creating an illiterate boy with a voice and a world of his own. HM Castor, persuading me that she knows how Henry VIII thought, lived, loved and hated. How can something that feels so right be wrong?
I am mastering my addiction. All three projects that I am working on at the moment are safely in the past tense (although two of them are showing signs of…but no, no, I must resist!). I draw the line at re-drafting them into the third person, but I truly have no objection at all to reading books in the third person and I find, oooh, far more than 5% of them really excellent.
So, thank you for your support. Thank you for helping me break this terrible habit and thank you - oh my God! Mr Pullman! Put down that knife! Aaaarggggggggh…..