It’s Day Four of Camp NaNo and I’m 3,500 words in to my novel, which now sits at 12,000 total. I’ve actually been writing about 2,000 a day, but I’m being strict, and not including any words from short stories, articles or blog posts in my daily count. Overall, it’s been a good experience so far. I’ve been avoiding self-editing, but I’ve come to a problem that can’t be avoided for long.
I’m beginning to wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. My natural style in writing is third person–limited, past tense, but for this story, I chose first person, present. There were reasons behind it. One of the themes of the book is that the protagonist is forced to live in the present (hence present tense) because her past has been destroyed, and her future is uncertain (no hope to hold on to). Also, because of some of the events in the story, I believed the first person perspective would offer a visceral, immediate reaction to the emotions of Katerine (the main character).
I was aware of the challenges I would face with this style, and the many, many edits that it will need to get the tense and perspective perfect, but I think it’s important for me, as an aspiring author, to do these sorts of challenges to improve myself. It’s not good enough to be comfortable.
That said, Katerine is fourteen years old, uneducated, and she’s just… not interesting. Her life happens to her right now, and I type in horror as I realize she is turning into the type of female ‘heroine’ that I abhor. Passive. Unengaged. Unhappy (though that’s to be expected). The characters around her are breathing life into the story, but Katerine has yet to show me who she is. And it’s making me rethink the whole POV thing. After all, why write in first person if your main POV is going to be boring? There should be something entertaining about a first person POV; they should be charming, witty, intelligent or something else that makes them stand out in ‘the crowd’. Katerine just doesn’t have that yet.
So, I’ve been reconsidering the POV, but I’m in a crisis about it. If I change it to third person, I don’t think it’ll solve the basic problem that Katerine is boring. Another option might be to add multiple POVs, though which to add I’m not sure. Perhaps someone with more knowledge to inform the reader of things which will move Katerine down the road, but she is unaware of. I fear changing the verb tense.
In the end, though, it’s really all down to Katerine and my portrayal of her. I’ve got to focus more on who she is. I need to develop her more. Then maybe she will show me her own unique voice.
Some related posts on POV, which I found interesting:
- Why I Prefer Third Person – (I might write in third person after all….)
- Narrative vs Perspective: First vs Third Person – (No wait, first sounds good again…)
- In Defense of First Person POV – (Hmm…. first again….)
- First Person POV Do’s and Dont’s
- Point of View (in Fantasy)
- Writing in the First Person POV – (A fantastic three-part series on 1st Person POV)