Writing Update–January 16, 2011

I made the big decision this week to switch the point of view of my current novel from third to first person.  I was only about 2500 words into it, but the words were not coming.  Not because of plot of characters, but because of tone.  The distance created by the third person view seemed to push the story into the wrong tone, and I wanted it to be more personal.  It took me about a day to rework the existing text to first person, and then to review it.  I haven’t written in first person since seventh grade.  Seriously.  I can remember the story.  I may, in fact, still have it in my archives.  I remember my teacher, Mrs. Jensen, telling me the most invaluable writing lesson ever.  If you write in first person, your point of view character cannot die at the end of the story.

I think that lesson has stuck with me perhaps too well, and scared me away from writing anything in first person, because it seems to remove the suspense that this character won’t die at the end.  But in all my novels and short stories since, I have yet to kill off any of my POV characters.  So maybe I could trust that first person will not limit me now either.

After I finished the conversion, it didn’t take long for the words to start coming again.  Perhaps it’s trash.  I’m not sure yet, but the words are there, and for a writer, that’s a very good thing.

What’s bad for a writer is getting on the train in the morning, starting up your laptop, and finding the battery near dead, which is what happened to me on Wednesday.  And I didn’t bring my charger with me, so I couldn’t charge at work either.  The good news is that I had a couple of magazines I had to read for work this month, so I got those both out of the way instead.  Otherwise, I would have hauled them around for a couple of months.  Once I really get writing, I barely read on the train.

This morning, I worked out the synopsis I need to submit for the Pacific Northwest Writers Association contest entry which is due in a month.  I still have some editing to do on the first three chapters of the book, and may, in fact, reorder the chapters slightly.  We’re going to work through our submissions in our writing group in a week or so, and make sure everyone gets their entries in on time.  It’s the only contest I plan on entering this year, but the year is young.

Work is slightly intruding on my weekend writing time as I am trying to complete a big project by the end of the month, but soon it will move back to where it should be, and I’ll force my ass out of bed at a decent hour to get some writing done on the weekend mornings.  I’ve also been churning through some old TV miniseries (Roots and Shogun), and they have chewed up a lot of time as well, but I’ll finish up Shogun tonight, and then my evenings will be free for being creative.  I can’t say that watching them has been unproductive.  Watching epic stories like these certainly gives me ideas, and I’d have to say that a lot of the inspiration for my current book comes from watching Roots.

That’s it for today.  See you next week.

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