A Prospective Perspective Change

I’m toying with the idea of scrapping my whole novel and starting from scratch with the same story, same characters, and a whole new perspective.  My writing class covered point of view last week and I’ve been dedicating some serious thought to giving a different perspective a try.

Granted, the idea of re-writing my 250+ page novel makes me want to cry just a little, but the more I go back and re-read it the more dissatisfied I become.  I’m not the kind of writer who normally feels dissatisfied with her work.  I’ll go back to old blog posts and most of the time I’m surprised I actually wrote them because I like them so much (I know, I’ve got the modesty thing down to a science).

With all the new skills I’m learning though, I’m slowly realizing how much better my novel could be.  Whereas before I would read it over and think to myself how good it was and how well I detailed the characters, I now read it over and realize that my characters have no faces and my story has a plot that’s neither well-developed nor resolved.

Normally, this would probably make me toss the whole thing out and start over but I’m still in love with this story and want to tell it.  I just now realize that I can do it so much better.  The trick, I think, is going to be to tell the story from a 3rd person instead of  a 1st person perspective.

My whole novel as it stands is written in present tense 1st person, which means my sentences are always happening right this second.  For example: I’m writing my blog when Wes walks in and gives me a hug

What I think would be a lot better would be 3rd person omniscient.  For example: She sat at the computer, face scrunched in concentration, typing madly to the sounds of Beethoven when Wes walked in and interrupted her with a hug.

I can give my characters faces, personality quirks, and a deeper depth of character with 3rd person than if I’m shackled to the perspective of one person who’s only in one place at one time.  Also, 1st person present tense gets a bit tiring to read (and write!) after a while.

Apparently, I’m in good company in writing my first novel in 1st person.  According to my good friend Working Girl, most first novels are written in 1st person.  The woman who teaches my writing class says that most publishing houses won’t even take a look at novels written in 1st person since they practically scream AMATEUR AUTHOR!

The last thing I want is to be that obvious about my amateur status, so I think I’ll give a different perspective a try.  I’m sure there are plenty of authors who can make 1st person look good but I’m not yet arrogant enough to assume I’m one of them.  The great thing about having already written a rough draft is that I have an excellent grasp of my story and my characters so I have the feeling the second draft is going to just pour out of me.

Now, the dilemma is: Will I have time to revise my novel before next NaNoWriMo?  I’m so busy lately I really question whether I’ll carve out the time to do this until I’m forced to do it by a voluntary deadline.  If I do have to wait until November, at least I’ll know what I’m writing about ahead of time!

7 thoughts on “A Prospective Perspective Change

  1. Ooh ooh, I pick the 3rd person omni-whatever (I can’t be bothered to spell it out ;).

    I can’t wait to read any snippets you are willing to share!

  2. Anyone can write… It’s the revising that separates professionals from hobbyists. Personally, I can’t revise a grocery list.

    As far as perspective, one thing you need to consider is that for better or worse you are writing genre fiction. I don’t know the answer to this, but what perspective are books in your genre typically written in?

    Also, for third person, my preference is third-person limited. In my humble opinion it gives the reader an easier time identifying with your viewpoint character but avoids the first person traps. Although there is something to be said for the narrative voice and playfullness of language that first person allows.

    And definitely past tense. Present, although it can lend an air of immediacy to a story, can be very very distracting.

  3. -Mrs. Higrens, You like 3rd person omniscient? I’m favoring that at the moment too. It’s pretty natural to write that way for me (not as natural as 1st person but alas!) and if I’m going to write a whole novel in one style it might as well be natural! I’ll definitely post some snippets when I feel that they’re not utter crap :) When I’m finally done, I’ll ship a manuscript to you, if you have time to read it, and you can tell me what you think!

    -Dane, I’m certain you could revise a grocery list! Just cross out “carrots” and pencil in “potato (chips)”. There! Revised! Seriously, though, the re-writing and editing is the hardest part of this whole thing but a necesaary part if I’m going to make a go of this noveling thing.

    The chick lit genre doesn’t have a standard, really. There’s plenty of 1st person but a generous number of 3rd person books as well, so at least there’s that flexibility.

    I like 3rd person limited as well but I can’t do it. I tried in my writing class and I have yet to master it well enough to do it for the length of a novel with any sort of confidence. It may be an acquired skill or turn out to be something like math, which I seem to have a mental block against learning. Time will tell.

    I agree about the past tense. Even if I wasn’t changing perspectives I’d change the tense, which, since it would mean re-writing my book anyway, seemed a good enough reason to try re-writing it in a different perspective!

  4. Some of my fav novels are written in 1st person, Life of Pi, Water for Elephants, Kite Runner..and I have loved each of them. None however have been set in present. These are sort of autobiographies, it seems as if the author has either been around when all happened or was a part of it. Its hard to distinguish the real from ficton, yet these all are fiction. I believe its worth revising and also in a different perspective, just to explore the results.

    Btw, nice blog, I think part of the credit goes to Wes for the graphics

  5. -Perception, I agree, there are definitely a ton of amazing books that are written in 1st person. I like the intimacy that comes from a story told in 1st person, you get to know the main character so well it’s almost like you’ve always known them. Who knows? Maybe I’ll re-write the book from 3rd person and just end up changing it all back again because I miss the other perspective!

    Thanks for the compliment about the blog! Wes has worked like a hopped-up elf to make it all work right! He’s very brave to do so, too, because I’m a bit (read: very) particular about my blog and am a bit (read: very) demanding and perfectionistic!

  6. I can ALWAYS find time to read (who needs to do housework anyway?) – actual pages, locked word document, PDF – whatever works for you works for me!

  7. -Mrs. Higrens, Sweet! Sounds great, now all I have to do is re-write the thing. Count on seeing it sometime around December…?

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