Friday, September 25, 2009

Me, Myself, and Her

I mentioned the other day that I've been struggling with finding a voice for my new book, which feels like trying to make a soup with no stock*. Everything I've written has been in a revolving third person, most with some kind of narrative voice on top of that. I thought I might try first this time--it seemed like the best choice for the book. And I've been struggling and staring at empty pages and considering other careers . This morning, I switched to third--with a narrator--and suddenly could mange to string words together for the first time in awhile. My first person is precious, narcissistic, rambling, dull. My fellows-in-blogginess all do it so well, and it isn't until I try it that I realize how hard it is.

Do you all feel like you can do one better than another?

*I'm assuming, as I can't actually cook.


  1. This is something I am struggling with on my own work :) I like the urgency of 1st person for my character, but worry that I am loosing the world?

  2. Ann,
    I'm there with you. I love thinking about POV vs. voice of the piece. Until I find that voice, there is no way that I can even begin. I can dance around the edges, but I can't write the story. I have one very strong 3rd person nar. - and I love him. He's hilarious, but he's hard to fuel. Exhausting really. Most of the time - I fall into 1st person - both pic. book voice and novel. I agree - this can become a very dangerous one-woman (or man) act. It can become tedious, and it's easy to fall out of the story and go off on a tangent that really is interesting only to the MC. I have to keep telling myself - my MC might have a lot to say about XYZ - but how is that moving this story forward? My MC's comments MUST in some way pertain to the story at hand. I am not always successful - but at least I'm aware of the temptation!

  3. I'm opposite of Anne and Jamie. I've never written in first person. I am struggling with a picture book now, and that may be what I need to blow the story open. I only write first person in my head: letters to hotels, restaurants, friends...all about what I think they could do differently. How dull. I once rewrote a letter ten times to complain about the size of the soup bowl for lobster bisque. That can't be interesting to readers, so I never write it down, or send it to the real restaurant. By the way, stock is added to soup last and if it doesn't come at all, the soup will burn. (I've done it.)
    My stock is the voice of my grandmothers reading aloud into my childhood ear. It is always night. I'm either sitting on a hard olive-green couch listening to nursery rhymes from the wet wrinkled voice of my hairy-chinned grandmother, or I'm in the pitch darkness of the guestroom listening to my other grandmother tell red riding hood while she lies next to me in the double bed. She is telling me that the wolf put the grandmother's nightgown and cap on. The scary part is that my grandmother is dressed in the same disguise as the wolf--pink frilly nightcap and the whole ensamble. Her snore was not unlike the sound of a hungry predator, but I felt protected.