Doubting Myself — July 5, 2012

Doubting Myself

I have a feeling there will be a lot of angsty posts while I’m drafting this book. And I apologize for it in advance. But this blog is supposed to be a chronicle of my journey.

This latest road bump?

I’m doubting something hugely fundamental in the structure of this story.

I’m second-guessing myself on both point-of-view and tense.

I’ll give you time to pick your jaw up from the floor.

I’ve blogged about tense and point of view before.

With HotG (Hammer of the Gods, I changed the abbreviation slightly), I initially started it in third person past tense. One paragraph in I changed it to first person.

5K words in?

I’ve decided to change it all over to present tense.

Again, I’ll give you time for collecting whatever may have been flung in disbelief.

I really feel like there’s an immediacy in the present tense which is absent in past. An immediacy which this book may really need in order to be successful.

But then I find I’m doubting that. I am torn between continuing in present tense or reverting to the past tense. I will retain the first person narrative. In light of the doubts I’ve come to a decision.

For now I’m going to go ahead and forge on with writing it in present tense, if for no other reason than the challenge.

It’s good to challenge ourselves once in a while. If I can complete this book the way I’ve now set about writing it, I’ll have proved something to myself. I’ll have proved to myself I can write differently. I can write a male MC in first person present tense. I can write an action-adventure novel. I can write first person. I can write present tense.

If we don’t challenge ourselves we’ll never learn our bounds and figure out how to break them, right?

So here’s to experimentation!

Point of View and Tense — February 2, 2012

Point of View and Tense

Wow, that’s a technical topic for me to be getting into on this blog.  I know I don’t usually go into the gritty details like this here.  But it’s something that has been on my mind lately.

For whatever reason, perhaps it’s just a natural inclination and a small fear of trying something new, I always write in past tense.  I just do.  But then I write fantasy and I think that past is pretty traditional for the genre.  Not that I’m saying it can’t be done, but just that it seems traditional.

I tend to write in third limited, or at least try.  (I’m sure third omniscient creeps in there sometimes.  That’s what revisions are for.)  But I have experimented with first person.  Those are generally the short stories that go unfinished.  One of these days I will force myself to try my hand at first and finish what I start.

A couple of years ago I started reading a book that was written in present tense.  (I can’t remember if it was third or first.)  The tense was so jarring to me.  Thinking about it now, I’m not sure it was done with enough finesse as to be invisible.  When I read I want to see the story, not the craft.  Especially when I read for pleasure.  I never did finish the book.

In late 2011 (as in the last few days of the year) I read a book that captured me and didn’t let me go.  I had some issues with the book as I finished it but it was with the story, not the craft.  Well into it, perhaps almost two-thirds, I realized something.  The entire book had been written in first person (which I’d noticed) present tense (which I had not noticed).  I was paying attention to the story, not the craft.

Imagine my disappointment two weeks later when I’m reading another book and the first thing I notice is the tense, present, and the POV, first.  I’m not opposed to first, or to present tense.  But when they’re not done well they overpower the story.  I also did not finish this book, but not because of the present tense narrative.

Done well, your readers (even writer readers) will not notice your craft, they’ll only notice your story.  Unless they’re critiquing your work, then they will.  But if they’re reading for pleasure they might go back and look at how you’ve written what’s on the page but the story is what should stick more.