Friday, January 29, 2010

Phriday Phun Day!

Aww, doesn't work without physics thrown in there. And I swore I'd never go back to physics after high school...damn you, Newton. Damn you.

So! Let's talk about first person narrative. I read a good post the other day on Janice Hardy's blog The Other Side of the Story. If you are a writer and you don't read her blog, go subscribe right now. She gives excellent advice on the writing process from a published author (and she's represented by Agent Kristin of Pub Rants fame, which makes me like her immediately). In her post she wrote about false starts on stories and gave some helpful hints about what to watch out for, including choosing the wrong character POV.

That got me thinking about first person narrative. I love the concept, but I'm learning that execution is a much hairier beast (whom I love, incidentally). I am currently writing a YA (I know, aren't we all) with a first person POV, and I really do feel that the story can't be told with an omniscient narrator. But for some reason, I'm having trouble getting in the headspace of a 17-year old girl. It's like she's a real person whose brain I can't access. And I am definitely more of a plot-driven writer than a character-driven writer, so it's frustrating to know the plot outlay and not the character herself. Frankly, I'm finding it hard to make her not me. It's hard to keep writing "I" or "me" and not start inserting myself. And while I am fantastically interesting and endlessly witty, I am not 17 and I am not facing the problems she is facing. So her approach should be all like "ahh! no! scary!" whereas mine is "say what? dumb."

I want to write an authentic person (not just an authentic teenager, but an authentic person), but I can feel her voice vacillating between these one-dimensional character traits that I've restricted her to, and it makes her come off like old soda. I've restarted this story about five times now (I'm like the surgeon on TV on the table, thumping on people's chests shouting "don't quit on me, damn you!"), and I refuse to give up because I love the concept so much. And I like this character, I do. In fact, I'm almost positive that she's staring at me from within her made up realm going: "Really, JEM? Really? You're going to play me like that? Ultra lame." Oh, wait, that's what I would say. See?! I'm doing it again.

For any of you first person POV lovers out there, what is your approach? How do you get inside the head of someone who is not you and play around? Is it like being a Power Ranger? Do those still exist? Kids are still into that, right?

Side note, I saw the Power Rangers movie with my Dad when I was a kid. The sacrifices our parents make...

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