Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Writery Wednesday gets down and dirty with some begging.

My critique partner trudged through my MS last month and made some great corrections/changes/suggestions. But one suggestion has been hanging around my neck like a weak midget (Mitch Hedberg anyone?). Just nagging at me. Is it the right thing to do? If I say NO is it just because I'm lazy and don't want to do all that work? And if I do what if it doesn't work well? What if I don't and no one wants it because of the POV?

You see? It's stressful!

What I'm talking about is: My currently, almost polished novel INTO (she didn't care for the name after reading it either!)  is in 3rd person. She made the comment that it might read better and get more into the MC from first person.

AUGH! Change the whole thing from 3rd to 1st!?

*Le sigh*

But what IRKS me even more than the possibility of turning the whole novel into first, is the fact that I started writing it in first and changed my mind!(some nonsense about trying to master 3rd omniscient. HAHAHA. Riiiight. It didn't work out for either of us. We had to break it off before anyone got hurt, omniscient and I.)

Part of me wants to leave it and see where I get. If I don't get far I can always change it later, or if an agent/editor would rather see it in 1st then that can be done BUT the other part argues and says "if it wasn't a valid point she wouldn't have noticed or said anything." "what if the editor/agent doesn't want to waste all that time waiting for you to change it if they want it the other way?"

So, I'm asking you all, on this Writery Wednesday, what should I do? I have rewritten the opening first paragraphs in first and will give you both POV. Can you, please, read them and then tell me what you would like to read better?

It's YA Fantasy (dark...fantasy) If you don't want to, no skin off my nose. The world is a busy place, and I get that, so no worries! If you do, thank you in advance!

      A figure, cast in shadows, skulked around the vine-covered stone wall that bordered Shady Way Orphanage. It stooped low, rooted around the ground, then rose to begin again.
      Faith couldn't be sure of it's motive for the behavior from where she perched. The window seat of the crumbling mansion's third floor wasn't an ideal spot to be night watching. Behind the filmy, funk-smeared windows of her dorm room, she was surprised she could see the silhouette at all.
      Her hasn went absentmindedly to her stomach where the slight bulge was apparent to no one but herself. Rubbing her hand up and down the front of her dad's olf Pink Floyd T-shirt, she watched the human-shaped form stand abruptly. It's head snapped back and forth, as if searching for the cource of a sound. 
      The bun and sharp, long nose was then recognizable even from the distance that separated Faith from her widowed orphanage director. Mrs. Simp's profile was fixed on a spot on the wall and Faith was stunned at her peculiar behavior. 

     A figure, cast in shadow, skulked around the vine-covered stone wall that bordered Shady Way Orphanage. It stooped low, rooted around the ground, and rose just to do it all again.
     I couldn't be sure of the beings motive for such behavior from my perch. The window seat of the crumbling third floor wasn't an ideal spot for night watching but it beat staring at the water damaged ceiling from my cot. Behind the filmy, funk smeared windows of my dorm room, I was shock to have made out the silhouette at all.
      My hand left the mildewed cushion and went to my stomach. I absentmindedly rubbed the slight bulge through my dad's old Pink Floyd T-shirt, trying to focus on who was in the yard at this hour when the figure stood abruptly. It's head whipped back and forth as if searching for the source of a sound.
     The bun and sharp, long nose was recognizable even from this distance. It was a shock to realize I had been watching the strange behavior of none other than Mrs. Simp, the no-nonsense, widowed director of Shady Way. Why was she out, doing God knows what by the wall?

Not too long, right? The second hasn't been edited, I just wrote it out quickly to get a feel and decided to ask for more opinions on POV. I would be much obliged for any you all can offer.

How do you decide your POV? What would you do if someone suggested you changed it after your novel was finished?

HERE is an AMAZINGLY AWESOME guide to follow if you have a passionate writer in your life. Or one to pass out to your friends and family if you are the writer.

HERE is a great article on the damage being late can do to your career. (It's like it was written for me! Except I'm usually late because I get lost, but it is still no excuse. At all.) 

and HERE is a link Nicole Zoltack @ Where Fantasy and Love Take Flight shared on Tuesday of the 10 Commandments of Social Networking! Brilliant! (I just mentioned someone should make a list of do's and don'ts for bloggers the other day! Perfect.)

Duders, I'm sorry. I'm going to have to revive the HP spirit. If you were with me leading up until the HP movie release, you will understand that that means themed images/videos leading up to and event. This event, is obviously Christmas. So. Buckle up. 25 days of a Christmas comic, video, or whatever the crap amuses me that is Christmas themed! 

You all enjoy your Wednesday! 

(still LOVING Firefly. 3 Episodes a week just isn't enough. Going to have to find time to pencil in a few hundred more a week. But today my TV time is just for Glee.) 


  1. My first novel was agented and submitted to editors as a 3rd person. After it was dead, I changed the whole thing to 1st, for me. It was a epiphany for me. I realized that I'm more comfortable and natural writing in 1st. I think it is because, partially, that when I write, I tend to take my character's roles in my mind. I roll play, to an extend. Writing "I" instead of "he" feels more real at that moment.

    Also, to keep in mind... When you write in 1st, it isn't just changing the she to I thing. There are going to be details that you can't get in 3rd that come out in 1st.

    And I like your 1st person better. :o)

  2. Hi Colene!

    Firstly 1st vs 3rd. Its a hard one to call. Obviously, there is no definitive right and wrong answer, it depends on the style of the story as a whole, and maybe reader preference. I preferred the 3rd POV, although the other small changes that you made were improvements. Maybe it is because I was reading a female character from a male perspective that 3rd POV works better? My honest opinion (you did ask!) is that if your crit partner feels that something is needed to "get more into your MC" maybe it would be more productive to write in some additional introspective moments, emotions or internal dialogue to better enable the reader to inhabit your MC. I would be concerned about converting to 1st POV in order to force your reader into your MC shoes. Drawing in is always more effective than forcing upon!

    Thanks for the links and the cartoon. Loved the cartoon and am going to investigate the links.
    As for Firefly, oh how I wish there were hundreds of episodes to watch!

  3. So, me first. My first book is in third person. I never questioned the POV. Third person is what I read at the time -- I hated first -- so that's what I wrote. My second book I made the decision to do first person. Why? I knew that a big part of my plot revolved around the main character's mental state as he started seeing ghosts and lost touch with reality. I knew that I couldn't show that if I didn't use first person.

    Now, you. I read your samples and liked both of them. They actually both give a different feel though. i can't say one over the other without knowing more about your story. For instance, if this will be about this girl uncovering sime huge mystery that has far reaching consequences, go with third. If the story is about this girl giving birth and dealing with some more personal mystery or problem, go with first.

    If you wanna send me a summary, I can give you a more accurate and maybe helpful opinion.

  4. OK, not going to help here... I think they BOTH sound good. First person pulls the reader into the story more, IMO. Less of an outside observer, more the "I" of the story...

    Go w/your gut. It's your story. Do what feels right to you. Yes? :o)

  5. I like both as well. I do think first is more personalized and I'm going to try it with my next book.

    Maybe try to change one chapter and see how it feels, before committing to the whole book.

  6. I had a similar experience with my first book. It is in 3rd person and I now really think it should be in first. I learned that I don't enjoy wrting 3rd as much as 1st. However, reading yours I think either one is great.

    Send it out already and get a feel for the market and the responses you might get. Also, I recommend having more than one CP and comparing notes. If the opinions are divided then it's up to you.

    I hope that is helpful. Good luck to you. I hope you choose to start querying first and then consider making the leap to first.

  7. Oh, I've gone back and forth with this with my own writing so many times LOL

    I liked both of them, as the others have said, for different reasons. And I liked Quinn's suggestions on how to choose.

    Going by these samples, I liked the 1st person better, but I think that is because of the small, added details that you had in it - which could be added to a third person story. 1st person lets you get inside your character's head a little more, but if you have other characters that are going to be major players, any POV changing going on, or if you need more distance to be able to tell parts of the story, third might work well.

  8. Hi Colene -

    Argh! I sooo feel your pain! My current wip is in 3rd person (I usually write first) and I go back and forth wondering if I should change it to 1st. Really, that's where I'm more comfortable writing. My MC seems sassier when she's an "I". And that's my opinion of your two chapters - the 3rd person version seemed more atmospheric, but there was more personality in the 1st person version. I'm going to echo a few comments here (and not be entirely helpful, sorry! :( ) and advise that you go with your gut, your comfort zone, and consider the story. Is it plot driven? (3rd might be the better approach) or is it really about Faith and the struggles she'll obviously have to face and how she deals with it (1st might be better choice here). I'd be happy to look at more - but, I'm sure - whatever you decide, it will be the right choice for you! :)

  9. I prefer to write (and read) in third, but I like the changes going to first made in the story.

  10. I've done that; written in 3rd, then decided that 1st might be better or vice versa.

    I think--between the two paragraphs here--that the 3rd person is the better one. Although, as people have said, it depends a lot of the rest of the story.

  11. Personally, I can't get into 3rd. I've always preferred 1st. But you write well and you have to go with your gut. I just changed my entire novel from past to present tense, so I feel your pain.

  12. I tend to prefer first person as a reader, but I can get into a novel with a good voice no matter what the POV is. I like the sound of both of these paragraphs, to be honest, but the voice seems very different. It just depends what direction you want your novel to take. You have to go with your gut.

  13. Usually I prefer to read (and write) 3rd person. I liked both your openings, but with a slight advantage to the 3rd person one.

    Do you like Pink Floyd? That's one of my favorite bands >;)

    Cold As Heaven

  14. I prefer to write in 1st. However, all of the stories I've sold have been in 3rd. The two novels I am ready or about to be ready to query to agents are in 1st.

    That said, only you can decide if your story should be in 1st or 3rd. Doesn't help much, I know. I will say this, I liked the voice of the 1st person better, especially the last line. Sorry I can't be more helpful!

  15. Both excerpts work nicely - it all depends on what you want your story to look like. The first feels cinematic and sweeping to me, and the second is more narrow in focus (of course), but more immediate and kinetic with more voice.

    I originally wrote my novel in 3rd person, finished the first draft and then decided 1st would be a better fit for the story. It took a while to re-tool the whole thing, and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone unless they were certain.

    While 1st person is, of course, more direct and 'into' the character, it can be off-putting for that very reason to some readers.

    Plus, there's all the cool 'bigger picture' stuff that you have to either leave out or find a way to include (Letters, overhearing, gossip) so your POV character hears/sees it.

    I found it a little tiring to write from a single POV for a whole novel (but well, that might just be me).

    Whichever you choose, Colene, good luck. It sounds cool already.

  16. Great comments, Colene. These are all great perspectives and I hope they will help you with your decision. I really liked what you did with the changes. I like what Michelle and Quinn said abotu the story- whether it's right for the story or not. In your case, you can tell Faith is the main character and the others (even though they are important) don't need as much insight into what they think, you know? Okay, rambling. But honestly, I hope you didn't think I would prefer 1st person over the 3rd. Like someone else said, maybe with the 3rd we just need more insight into what Faith is thinkiing- and you can still do that with 3rd. I loved your story and will still love it no matter what POV you choose to go with. Again like I said in the earlier email, go with what is good for you and your novel, and what you are comfortable with. You should know after writing it out a little more. Great job on the 1st person POV too!

  17. I like to write in first, but reading both of these...I can't make up my mind! They do feel different from each other, but they're both compelling. I'm so not a help here. Sorry!

    But do tell us what you decide!

  18. I always like 1st person - reading and writing. Which obviously means, reading this thread, that "opinions may vary." But yeah, the person above who said changing 3rd to 1st is much more than changing "she"s to "i"s is right - much more in terms of observations and internal though/conflict.

    So I think you need to decide if your story works. Is it the one you wanted to tell? If so, you've got it. If not, change it. Good luck.

  19. I changed my novel's tense/pov three times. There are certain things I could do in third that I can't in first... but my story is better as a first person novel. And then I switched from past to present tense..... so on and so forth. Redoing your whole novel is a lot of work but if it could make it better.... you have nothing to lose. If you decide to change it I'd keep the whole story in 3rd as an extra document so you still have it if you decide against it and then rewrite. If you don't that's fine.

    Personally I like writing 1st better but I honestly like both 1st and 3rd when reading. I can't quite decide which I think would be better for your story because it's such a small sample.

    I will say this, I like it, either way. If your critique partner whose seen a larger sample says first... you need to seriously consider it. But in the end, it's your story and I'd go with your gut

  20. Ian, wonderfully helpful advice, thank you so much!

    Thanks everyone! I really appreciate all the time and input from you all. I can't believe how supportive this whole community is!! Thanks a million!

  21. First versus third person is a tough call! I really like the flow of your second version, to be honest - but it depends on what you're going for over the course of the whole book.

  22. It's so hard to decide! My first novel was in 3rd and this latest is in 1st. First didn't work for Dark Forest so I stuck with 3rd. The trouble with yours? I love it both ways. You have to do what is best for you and the story. You changed it to third for a reason. What was that reason? Critique partners give us GREAT advice, but not everyone agrees. I might read it in 3rd and love it that way. My preference is reading 3rd person, though.

  23. It's always difficult to pick between first and third person! Honestly, I think that it depends on the storyline. If there are times where your main character isn't present, then I'd say that third person is probably best. However, if she's always present, then it does give the reader a better look into what the main character is feeling and thinking--in my opinion.

  24. I usually say 3rd but your first was really working here. I have heard that editors prefer 3rd though.

  25. I think these BOTH look good. The FEEL is different.

    I should just say up front 3rd person limited is my favorite PoV. I think omniscient doesn't feel as natural. I like to be deep in a characters (or a few characters) head and only know what they know, but to know THAT really well--processing, emotions, misconceptions.

    First person is really common in YA--I get that, but it takes a really intense story for it not to feel like a middle school diary to me... that is STRICTLY a personal opinion.

    Fantasy--the fantasy I've read anyway--tends to be 3rd person. Since YA has one norm, and fantasy the other, I would go with your gut, but maybe consider doing about 3 chapters, and then giving them to half a dozen readers so they could compare based on more info. Your crit partner MAY just have strong preferences herself, that aren't really about quality so much as what she likes or is used to reading.

  26. As others have said, 1st and 3rd person provide different feels, so your choice should depend on what type of story you're trying to tell. And of course, 1st person is popular in YA fiction. Try out 1st for a few chapters and see if you welcome the change.

    If it's not a good fit, I might still suggest going through your ms and making the switch to 3rd person limited instead of omniscient,. Especially if the story follows Faith the entire way.

    That's my two cents, anyway, even if it's not worth much these days.

  27. Kristin- Thanks so much for the comment and reading for me! It could work either way!


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