Fighting with the First Person: Sometimes the Process Has to Match the Voice (FYI This is Not a How To)

If you’ve been following the Neophyte Author then you know that I’m embroiled in a bitter battle that may the result in some really great writing or a major catastrophe (thank you, Jesus for editors). I decided not to give up and try and press through the challenge of using a first person narrator, which is something I have not attempted since I began my writing career. While listening to my Christian Fiction literary role model, Michelle Stimpson on the radio she stated that she loved writing in the first person. I took that as a sign from God if you’re going to do this she going to show you how to do it right. Following her interview we had a great conversation, which she blogged about, “First-Person or Third-Person”  and I am now blogging about the impact that conversation had on me. 

Three great points that came out of that conversation for me:

1. Michelle admitted that one thing that made writing LaShondra of Boaz Brown in first person relatively easy is because she and LaShondra are the same person. 

2. What does the story demand? Is this story about the character or about the plot? That should play a role in determining who tells the story and how the story is told. 

3. She’s a journal writer, so first person is very natural.

With that in mind I thought about:First Person

1. What is my relationship with Kira Seagram, the protagonist of Tempted to Touch. Do I know her? Do I like her? Am I her? The truth is a lot of me is her and I didn’t want to admit that or deal with the issues Kira is struggling with in Tempted to Touch. But, if I’m going to do this as I said in Fighting with First Person (FYI This is not a How To) then I have to own my issues and honor Kira’s voice. 

2. This story is about both the character and the plot. So, the person at the center of everything is the perspective that should be at the forefront of this story.

3. Journal writing is the key to unlocking the first person voice. The process for this piece must change in order for me to unleash the voice within.

Once I latched on to all of that I changed the process for writing Tempted to Touch. As an adult I don’t engage in journal writing as much as I did when I was younger, but yesterday I channeled that energy and instead of sitting in front my computer to type a story I actually immersed myself in the act of writing. By changing the process I was able to unleash the voice I was hearing in my head. In doing this I discovered the process has to match the voice. There’s still more to be done to settle my soul. Michelle also suggested I try rewriting one chapter in the third person and see which one proves to be stronger. Today I’m going to try that at some point, but I think I’ve found my first person groove.

How do you find your groove? What does your process look like when you hit a dilemma like this or are you always sure of the voice from the onset of the story?

Fighting with the First Person (FYI This is Not a How To)

I got into a fight this week. Not a knockdown drag out brawl more like an artistic affray. I just began working on a novella, entitled Tempted to Touch. Now my heart’s desire is to write this piece in third person. Do you think the protagonist, Kira Seagram is allowing me to do that? No, that would be too much like right (I don’t know why these people in my head are always acting up).

You would think after writing two novels a novella ought to be a piece of cake, but with Kira trying to tell the story herself I don’t know what to do with myself. Third person narration works for me as a writer. It’s great to know and share what everyone in the room is thinking and feeling. First person won’t allow me to do that. As the author I know the characters, but Kira doesn’t. First person will limit what I can reveal and when. First person means Kira has to become my new confidante. I like being allegiance free. Do you see the limitations here? Do you see the struggle?storytelling word in wood type

My first instinct was to do what I know, but then where is the growth for me as a writer and for my characters? There is none. So, now I’m on a mission to get through Tempted to Touch. Of course, this isn’t something that I can do alone. After sitting in front of my computer screen and praying for some divine intervention I also looked up some great articles on point of view to help me get over my fear of sounding trite and redundant (I sat, I walked, I thought, I. I. I). Sentence structure and lyricism are always heavy on my mind. I don’t think I’m completely over my fear, I’m still trying to figure out how I can manage to squeeze in a chapter or two in the third person (pray for me). However, I’m still typing. 

Writer’s what’s your favorite point of view to use in your writing? Readers, which point of view do you prefer and why?


Links to the articles I read for anyone else who, like me is embroiled in a battle with the first person:

First Person or Third

First Person Point of View

Me, Myself, and I: Writing First Person Point of View