Posts Tagged ‘first person’

The sun shone bright in the sky overhead, like midday before the gunfight in one of those old westerns.  As I looked around, I could even see tumbleweeds blowing across the open road.  Golden fields stretched as far as the eye could see on either side of that road, and I had no idea where I was. 


With my arms crossed over my chest, I looked both ways and not knowing where to go, I began to walk.  I could feel blood trickling down my forehead.  I even felt it stop when the wind blew, pushing it up and into my hair. 

There were no cars anywhere, no signs of life, unless you counted me, and the empty road that was clearly paved by someone.  My feet ached, but somehow, something told me I had to keep on walking. 


I looked down the length of my body.  My sundress was torn; my legs were bare and skinned.  I raised my hands to my face and could see cuts across my palms.  My arms ached, and they too were covered in deep wounds, though luckily they had stopped bleeding.


I watched as the sun overhead moved across the sky, from being directly overhead, to being almost behind me.  I tried to remember what that meant, but there was nothing.  No memory of anything other than what it was.  Which way was I walking, I had nothing but the hope that it was toward somewhere.


I kept moving, my legs, my feet, aching more and more, begging and pleading with me to stop.  I felt like I was in a dream, but you can’t hurt in dreams, can you?  I remember something about pinching yourself to know for sure if you’re dreaming or not.  If you felt pain, you couldn’t possibly be dreaming.  I pinched myself, and it hurt.


I looked around again, and still there was no one in sight.  How long had I been walking?  I didn’t know.  The only thing I did know was that I had to go on, to keep moving, but to where?  Where was I?  How did I get out here?  My mind was filling with questions I didn’t have the answer to.  


The golden fields stretched for what must be miles on either side of me.  There were no buildings in sight, not a single landmark to tell me how far I had come.  There was not even a sign of a town or even a rest area.I passed another mile-marker sign, at least I assume that’s what it was, but I lost track of how many I had passed along the way.


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I never gave much thought to Point of View, Tense or even Voice until I started editing my own work.  After all, a great writer just has to sit down with a good idea and write, right?  Wrong.

It took me a few edits to fully realize that writing is hard work.  You take for granted all the work that went into the crafting of each and every book on the shelf in the local library.  The hours of painstaking work put into each book in the book store.  Even the bad books (the books we’d disregard without a second’s hesitation) took a lot of time and effort.  Blood, sweat and tears as my father would say.

I never thought a story could/should be written from a first person point of view.  To me, it was arrogant and pushy.  I always wrote in the third person, i.e. “Jane looked down at the pillow she was holding. ”  Third person let me see the world from the shoulder of whomever I needed in order to tell the story to it’s fullest extent.  It allowed me to distance myself from the characters and let them do stupid things without me feeling the need to interfere.  The problem, however, is that it did not allow me to fully “feel” the characters; to give them the emotion they needed.  Readers could not connect with Jane because she had no depth, no soul.

I rewrote Remembering Jane from the first person perspective, though it was painful at first.  I felt strange, as though I were trying to be somebody or something I wasn’t.  It felt as though I was forcing my thoughts and my opinions on the characters in my story, but I made myself continue.  I had to find a way to breathe life into my characters, otherwise they’d remain as flat as paper dolls and be just as easily discarded.

One draft down, and already, Jane was becomming more real.  She has personality, thoughts, feelings, wants and desires.  Reading through it a second, third and even fourth time, I realized that writing in the first person wasn’t arrogant after all.  By using “I,” I was able to put myself into her shoes and give her the feelings and emotions necessary for her to continue on, to make the decisions she needed, and face the problems that arose throughout the story.

Remembering Jane is still far from done.  There are other factors to consider in her story, such as the voice and tone as well as the tense used when telling it.  I once thought writing was easy, that books were written in a matter of weeks.  Who knew that simply jotting the story down would take a few months, and then editing would take several more (and I’m not even talking about the months/years it takes to find a publisher willing to take a risk). 

Writing is hard work.  It is a job, a job I love (though sometimes I desperately feel like quitting).  It takes passion and dedication and more importantly – the support of those around you to keep on going.

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