While waiting to hear back from the agents over the requested material for my manuscript, “Our Perfect Thorn,” I have started my new project, “The Stoneman.” I’m already up to chapter 5, and I’m going to push myself into finishing this story by the end of April. I’m giving myself a month’s time of work - like a NANO WRIMO in April. An estimated 25 chapters to finish in four weeks.
I have no idea if I can do it.
But I’ll try. I’m really enjoying this story even more than the others. The more I write, the better I get - at least this is my belief (hope). And I feel more in touch with these characters than any of the other stories. Here’s why:
I once did a manuscript in third-person narrative. I won’t say it was a total disaster. I did finish the story, which is an accomplishment in itself. Yet I never connected with the characters. I never ‘became’ them enough to give everyone unique, individual, personalities. In essence, I was a mere observer in the room giving a clinical detachment to the patients of my story.
This lessened the experience. In fact, every time I pick it up telling myself to do revisions, I grow disgusted with the story and the time I waste on it.
So I switched over to using first-person narrative for my next manuscript. I connected with the character, fully. She had personality. She had spunk. I’m hoping an agent will like it enough to take on the project.
But . . .
I still felt I could have done more to flesh out the storyline. “Our Perfect Thorn” is a simple suspense/murder mystery. Since there are only a few characters in it, staying within the main character’s head was fine. Yet it turned out to be a short book because I stayed with one character.
I want to expand myself.
So I began writing “The Stoneman.” It has everything I could have wanted. Suspense. Multiple characters to create several plot arcs. A flawed main character who has liveliness and surliness and ‘realness’ as he goes through his struggles. Also, there is a wonderful unexpected ending that (I hope) will leave people going back to the beginning and reading the story often.
But which point of view should I take?
I began with first-person so I could get in touch with the main character. It worked, with even greater depth than I could have imagined. Yet I had other characters that I could also develop - other personalities to add their own spice to the story. They would allow me to create a longer, and intense, manuscript.
So I changed it to third-person.
Now I sat on the outside looking in again, afraid to lose something in the process. I’m afraid of losing faith in this story. I tossed and turned at night, wondering what to do. How do I make the characters come alive for the reader while I can still stay in touch with my own writing?
My decision: Switch between POVs.
My first draft for each chapter is first-person. I type in which character the chapter is about right at the top of the page. Then I become the character and write from his/her point of view. Once corrections are done, I go back in and switch it to third-person.
Sounds weird, doesn’t it? Yet this process is working for me. I don’t mind the extra time it takes to switch from first to third. I’m happy with the results. I’m experiencing the main character’s angst. I’m conniving like the money-grubbing fiancé. I’m tense like the distraught, naive mother. I’m calculating like the sheriff. I’m even losing a bit of my sanity like the crazy aunt. I’m experiencing them all without staying in one person’s head.
I’m enjoying myself, and isn’t that what writing really means?