Writer's Blog (megancrewe) wrote,
Writer's Blog

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Why Getting Started is a Pain

Loki's Boy is being a prick. Or maybe that's my muse. Grrr.

See, I've finished enough novels, and not finished enough novels, to know that if I'm not totally emotionally involved in what I'm writing, I'll never be able to finish it. And something about Loki's Boy just hasn't quite been clicking with me. I wrote a few pages in 1st person, decided that wasn't working (see discussion on 1st person narration below), wrote a page in third person, still didn't feel right about it, mulled over it for an hour, listened to inspiration music for another hour, and maybe now have figured out the angle I need to enter the story at to stay engaged.

'Maybe' being the key word. This wouldn't be half so frustrating if I didn't have a guilt monkey (to borrow matociquala's term) jumping on my back the whole time, hollering, "You should be writing, writing, writing!" "I'm trying," apparently doesn't cut it.

Ah well. Another thing I know from experience is that it's never too long before some story or another leaps up and grabs me by the throat.

Now, re: 1st person vs. 3rd person narration...

I gave this a lot of thought, because there's always been something about 1st person narration that doesn't sit well with me (both reading it and writing it), it definitely wasn't working in Loki's Boy, and I wanted to figure out why. The thing is, I realized, that even though it seems like 1st person should be more engaging and simple to write, it's actually the opposite. When you're writing 1st person--unless you're writing present tense 1st person (e.g., in diary entries), which is pretty hard for its own reasons--you're writing two versions of the same character: the character who's acting in the story, and the character who's telling this story from some point later on (presumably after the story-time is finished). This dual character automatically makes the events of the story less immediate. Unless your character hasn't grown at all or learned anything in the course of the story, they should be telling how they thought and felt, back then, with that distance that comes from maturation. The distance makes it harder for the reader to engage with the character's adventures, in what is really the "past". They're not really in that character's head; they're in the head of his/her older self.

On the other hand, with 3rd person, the narrator is a non-character, and so the events even when told in past tense are, in the story-time, in the "present".

Obviously there are exceptions, but I think, in general, that's what makes 1st person stories tricky. And it doesn't work for Loki's Boy in particular because a lot of the tension comes from the things the main character doesn't know until later in the story, and the emotions he goes through because he doesn't know those things.

*coughs* I hope that made some sense. This is why I hardly ever theorize here.

Well, now I must sleep. Cross your fingers for me--I'll be hammering on the muse's door again tomorrow morning.

Tags: characters, loki's boy, novels, the process, writing

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