It’s All In How You Look At It

or: A Lesson in Perspective

I’ve been really busy with Gumboot Books and Live Your Dream stuff lately and I haven’t put much time into my novel. Crystal and I have been away at a craft fair on Vancouver Island for the last five days and I expected that trend to continue. However, on our first night away, I had something of an epiphany that launched me into a re-write and I’ve been on a writing tear ever since.

I’m not sure what spawned it, but the epiphany struck me just as I was falling asleep on Wednesday night. It came as three words: “First. Person. Perspective.”

The novel I’m working on at the moment is intended to be a darkly funny crime thriller. When I outlined it, and when I think about it, the humour comes through. What I was finding, however, was that the writing itself was not funny at all. In fact, it was coming across as stilted and dry. I couldn’t figure out what the problem was – until Wednesday night.

Writing in third person was removing me from what needs to be a deeply personal piece of work. It seems so obvious now…

To give you an example of the shift in style this has made, here is an (embarrassing) passage from the original manuscript:

He turned and walked a dozen more steps to the next door. This must be the right one. He reached out, but his hand stopped before it reached the door handle. For some reason he couldn’t make himself open it. A formally-dressed couple looked at Mikhail inquisitively as they walked past. He smiled wanly.

To be fair, I wrote this during NaNoWriMo last year and haven’t edited it since, but still… pretty meh.

Here’s the equivalent passage now:

I was pretty sure people were staring at me, but I didn’t have enough spare concentration to care. I made my way carefully down the broad hallway and met with a seemingly insurmountable obstacle between me and the ballroom: a closed door.

Despite long days at the fair and a crushing chest-cold/laryngitis, I’ve been getting 1500-2000 words a day. This seems like fun again. 🙂

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