We’re on the cusp of the half-way point through the year. After you’ve written your story today, could you come back to the blog and post about one thing that you have learned/that has surprised you/that you’ve remembered, while attempting the challenge, please? Do this whether you’re still writing, whether you think you’ve quit (but really you know you’re going to come back and write at least one more story this month, don’t you?), or whether you’ve missed a few day, but written a few stories too.
What are you learning about your writing, your routine, your voice, the importance of turning up? Or is there something else you’ve discovered?
This week we’re starting a week of limits: point of view, mostly. Trying out all these different forms will give you an idea of what stories call for which perspective, and which you’re most comfortable with.
Today, first person. This is probably the easiest voice to find, since this is how we tell most of our stories in every day life(“I went to that new restaurant in town and you’ll never guess who I saw there…”)
Write A Story In the First Person
- Remember that only the thoughts and observations of your “I” character can be presented as fact. No ‘head-hopping’ allowed!
- The protagonist can make assumptions and judgements about the things around them. They can comment on how they think another character is feeling, but they cannot say it definitively.
- This mono-focus is one of the great features of the First Person story: it is highly subjective and immediate. It has a built in “show, don’t tell” factor.
- If you don’t often write in the first person, pick up almost any middle grade novel (that is, something for kids younger than the Hunger Games crowd, but older than the chapter-book-with-illustrations crowd) and you’ll see how it’s done. The protagonist is talking to the reader. It’s the running commentary inside their head. It’s also a favorite of “chick lit” and noir.
- I don’t know about you, but in my head I’m much less kind, understanding and tolerant than I try to be when I open my mouth. Allow your character to lose the civilized filter that we apply between brain and mouth. Allow them to be less (or more) than their image would suggest.
- Don’t forget to give the reader a reason to care. Give your protagonist a flaw and an endearing quality. For example, Amelia Peabody is no-nonsense feminist archaeologist at the turn of the 20th Century, in the (mostly) first-person mystery series by Elizabeth Peters. Amelia is astoundingly arrogant about her own intellectual prowess and impatient with anyone who considers her femininity before her intelligence. She is, however, saved from being unlikeable by her hopeless, romantic devotion to her brilliant — and very manly — husband, Emerson. She never admits this as a weakness, but the contrast between her professed opinions and her actions/reactions provides a rich vein of humor in the series. It also illustrates her character much more clearly than her own words ever could.
- Try writing this story for one person in particular, to help you find the voice. Imagine you’re writing it for your sister, your son, or your best friend.