Wednesday, September 7, 2011

It's all about me...

Actually, it's all about 'I'.  And that's the problem.  I'm sort of drowning in a first person narrative this evening, and I've made up my mind not to go to bed until I manage to reconcile myself with a point of view I rarely use or stick with.  (Does this mean that I'll watch the sun rise?  Those who know me well realize I'll probably throw in the towel around 11.  Unless of course the rain continues and the house may just float away.  Counties nearby are already in states of emergency.)

Normally I'm a third person omniscient  or third person limited kind of gal.  I enjoy stepping back and setting up my fictional worlds as I see fit.  With a critical eye.  And let's be honest, it's much less risky than first person.  Crawling solely into any character's brain  and adopting the 'I' risks over-indulgences and blinders galore.  Why plant myself in there when instead I can construct all of the characters with an even hand, push and pull all of their emotions and actions like clay until everything grinds together?  Third person gives me a distinct level of control.  

First person, on the other hand, can (and I say can because for many authors this isn't an issue) but it can cause the other characters in a narrative to wither and suffer.  The focus  of the 'I' is a laser.  And when an authors shines the floodlight on that that one character, he or she must be spot on.  He or she either has the voice that pulls readers in and grips them by their collars for the ride of the novel, or else the voice is mediocre and no matter how masterful a setting, how intriguing a storyline, how compelling the conflicts, it's nearly impossible to reel the reader back in once a lame voice has reared its ugly head.

And maybe that's where I'm struggling.  I am bound and determined to write a young adult novel.  Something about the genre has been calling to me for a long time, and even though I've been published more in the adult arena, I've snagged a few scholarships and awards for my young adult literature, spurring me along.  It's absolutely time to take the plunge, and while my husband is traveling with his uber cool band Alarm Will Sound, I am determined to get it done.  The entire novel.  Beginning to end.  That may be insane in just under two weeks with a full-time job and two children at home, but if not now, when?

I'm working on embracing my teenage angst, my general feeling of not knowing anything and knowing everything all at once, the absolute brilliance that I swear we lose the older and more cynical we get.  It's fun.  It's refreshing.  But it only works in first person.  The 'I' is the best way for me to intimately portray the character even though my inner critic incessantly reminds that that I am knee deep in the voice and it's make or break.  It also probably doesn't help that there's an element of magical realism already placing a twinkle on the heroine.  Sixteen.  Vaguely supernatural.  Distinctly confused and lost.  How do I avoid the 'I' trap and make sure the rest of the novel's world is fully formed and beautiful?

If I had an answer, this probably would be a blog about something else.  But as writers, I think we're always supposed to bring up more questions than answers.  We're supposed to move outside of our comfort zones and hopefully get our readers thinking outside of theirs as well.  

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