Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Can I Get a Little Perspective?

Who says only 1st person narrators are unreliable? I'm a little frustrated with my 3rd person narrator, but I would really like to give her a chance to do her thing. The problem is, she's holding back. It just might be time to let someone else tell the story.

I recently revised my latest manuscript and really built a much more solid plot and characters who sometimes do what they want no matter what I try to offer, but something still seems to be lacking. My beta reader approves of the overhaul in terms of plot and structure but finds it a little difficult to relate to the main character for reasons unknown to her. Something was still coming between the MC and the audience, and neither of us can put a finger on it. Could it be my attempts to keep the narrative historically authentic? Could it be that I not delving deep enough? I honestly don't know.

Working the line between an authentic voice and accessibility in a YA historical can be a difficult task, and I find that no matter how much I want to hold on to the nuanced observations a 3rd person POV can offer, I have to question her reliability. Frankly, I don't think she's giving me the whole truth. In the end, I might just need to hear it all from the horse's mouth, so-to-speak.

Sparked by the challenge and never willing to settle, I have spent the last several days playing with yet another revision. I have taken the first 3 chapters and let my MC tell her own story.  The first chapter wasn't too bad. She mostly gabs about herself, anyway. The second chapter got a bit more challenging when she had to bring her sisters and a pair of ghosts into things. The third chapter, however, brought a man into it, and oh, what fresh hell was wrought? Isn't that always the way of it? Of course, the MC hasn't quite figure out men, anyway, so this whole business could just make or break the experiment.

My 3rd person narrator tried to warn her. She tried to explain the subtleties that tend to elude a 17-year-old girl, but the MC didn't seem to be listening anyway. No matter how much the narrator tried to explain the subcranial workings of resolute but lost man, my MC could not be reached. So now my dear MC gets to try it on her own. On the bright side, I get to see her perspective a little more sharply, which might force me to do more than just narrate. On the down side, more than a few of my treasured darlings will end up on the chopping block...or remodeled into something unrecognizable. (Of course, that might be a positive as well.)

How many other writers out there are playing with POV? Has it made you crazy or offered an epiphany? I'm holding out hope for a startling revelation and the answer to a prayer...

And don't forget:  MARCH MADNESS IS ALMOST HERE! Be sure you check in over at Denise Jaden's blog for the big launch on Friday, and check in here every Thursday!


  1. I almost always find 3rd POV too distant. So I am probably not the most reliable person to comment. But I'm cheering for you as you explore this.

    I appreciate what you said on FB about the challenges of writing historically accurate story when using 1st person. AT least it has me second guessing my 1st person narrator. I think that's healthy for my writing.

  2. I recently added a second POV character to my historical. It added just enough information so the reader was no longer in the dark about a load of stuff going on. . .

  3. My first draft was written in third person. It was necessary because I have several scenes that take place away from the MC. But now I'm wondering if the benefit of being able to jump around is outweighed by the clarity and depth I might be able to get from a first person POV. I'm going to experiment with it in the second draft.

    1. That's exactly my dilemma, Aaron. Good luck with your experiment. I'm finding the challenge of it fun and interesting, and it's definitely sharpening my narrative skills.


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