Playing with Point of View
In my novel class, we are discussing point of view. I haven’t done my homework.
I have applied the lesson to my novel instead.
I wrote my first draft in a distant, limited third person, and I have wanted to narrow the emotional distance between the reader and the protagonist. Several months ago, I thought I should try writing some of the scenes in the first person to see if I could bridge that gap.
But, I let my fears stop me, my fear that I would succeed and it would be agonizing to write and my fear that I would fail.
So, like all good actors, and most good writers of fiction, I started asking myself about motivation. What is the narrator’s motivation to tell this story? Why does it matter? Why should I care?
And in the shower, about two weeks ago, an idea came to me, a reason for a woman to write this story, to teach her daughter a lesson and share information she had no other means to convey.
The idea sat with me, taunting me, calling me to write it.
And I was afraid. And I sat with it. Not writing.
And then, last week happened, and all the insights I had about my own reasons to write and my own strength and courage came to the surface, and yesterday morning I started to write, in the first person. And it came alive.
Oh, it is rough around the edges, and I have much more work to do.
But, it lives.
In first person.
Not only does writing in the first person bring me closer to the words, forbidding me from erecting walls of objectivity between myself and the paper, but it taps into all of my theatrical training. Writing from the first person lets me take the character development work that I do instinctively when I rehearse a play and channel it into my writing instead.
And my writing lives.
I had heard stories of authors discovering that their story worked only after rewriting the entire thing from a different point of view, but I never really believed them. Now, I think I may end up telling such stories myself. And I am stunned. Just stunned.
(I think I should probably do my homework now, what do you think?)