I have a strong preference for third person close... so strong, that I'd never tried another until November when I wrote a YA mystery in first person for NaNoWriMo, but the book I am currently editing had initial INTENTIONS to use first person for the ghost. I had written a prologue that was then set aside and I couldn't find it when BuNoWriMo (The Burrow held a WriMo last June) started, so I just wrote... it came out in 3rd person. I found that prologue, though, when I started editing and realized first person really was a lot stronger for this particular story.
Very soon after I started the change I found this great blog post from VR Barkowski about a conversion SHE had been doing. This post from Sarah Ahiers also talked about point of view... and I thought maybe it was time I dived in with some of the things I think I'm learning.
For starters, I'm not sure I would have even NOTICED most of this had I not done this CONVERSION. When I wrote my YA Mystery in November it was just sort of natural... modern teenage girl... just a year older than my own daughter... I didn't feel like I had to think that hard (I say from a pre-looking again PoV)
Converting a PoV though, that was originally written in 3rd person... and a far more UNUSUAL 3rd person... has taught me several things...
First, Who IS SHE?
Helen, my ghost, died in 1952. She committed suicide at age 15 to escape the horrors of the mental institution where she has been placed because her widowed father wasn't sure how to deal with her epilepsy... So she has come out of a scene like One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest...
And finds herself among modern delinquent teens...
(<--Also just outside Kahlotus)
As a 3rd person narrator, I have some adult words that I used to describe the action. Helen would not talk that way. There is also a formality to 1952 that no longer exists... and a respect for elders modern teens seem to have forgotten.
“She pondered the idea” becomes “I wondered if maybe”
“She'd despaired on” becomes “I dreaded”
“Helen smiled” becomes “I loved this, one of my few joys”
“perhaps” becomes “maybe”
Because see... Helen is YOUNGER than me, and also lacks my confidence. So her language is simpler and holds more hesitancy.
As narrator I can make attributions about other characters that Helen CAN'T—there is no way she would KNOW...
For instance, I had an observation of 'Lily, the least pregnant of the pregnant girls'--but Helen doesn't know that. None of the pregnant girls can see her, so she hasn't talked to them. Lily becomes, “The pregnant girl whose belly is smallest”
I also have to give some uncertainty to what she thinks the actions of others mean.
Character's world and Affect on Word Choice
One of Sarah's points had to do with her (male) character and a critique she'd gotten about (questionably) female words, but that triggered my TIMING issue...
As narrator, I could say “Helen had never seen a computer before”. As HELEN I have to talk about the strange briefcase with the TV in it. There are a lot of modern things that Helen has no framework for and I had to carefully watch for those and make sure I put them in terms SHE might have to think of them in.
This has actually been a really fun exercise in character development. It is harder to maintain the voice for me with “I” than in 3rd person, because in 3rd person I am me telling a story. In first person, I have to be my character. But this means I've had to think about more aspects of her.
My daughter is participating in a sleep study for the next three nights. I still plan to BLOG, but it's possible it won't get done before I leave for the lab, so they may be posted later on Thursday and Friday...
Content generated by Hart Johnson
First Image official Kahlotus City Data, second, 'Geocache for Devil's Cataract'
All posted first at Confessions of a Watery Tart
Happy HING day!