Thursday, June 27, 2013

Theresa Curnow – Finding Your Voice

Finding Your Voice: Writing in First Person, or Third

by Theresa Curnow

Finding your own voice when writing a novel can be quite difficult. Do you use first person or third person, or even second person? There are advantages and disadvantages to each one. When you begin a story you have to ask yourself whose story is it? Which character is going to tell it?  First person narrative is the most compelling and intimate technique there is. You can be whoever you want to be and have free and unlimited access to that character’s thoughts. I find writing in the first person easier in that you can write much more freely and can flesh out a character a lot more and also garner sympathy and empathy from your reader who can relate much better to a first person voice than third person. There are many popular books written in the first person narrative such as Twilight and To Kill a Mockingbird. With the latter, it would not have worked so well at all in third person. The strength of the book comes from the telling of Scout’s story from her voice. You feel more of a connection with a first person voice.

There are, of course, disadvantages from narrating in this way. You can be limited in what you can tell and if you’re not careful and your character becomes irritating in some way, the reader can grow tired of the narrator’s voice.  There is also a danger that there could a repetition of ‘I’ ‘I’ ‘I!  You can alternate first person and third person narratives to keep this from happening. This can work quite well and is something that I have done before.

What about writing in the third person? There are several different ways of writing in this form but the most popular is Limited Omniscience, in which the narrator knows what a particular character is doing but not all of the other characters. In this way, a writer can achieve the best of both forms of voices by using the intimacy of first voice with the distance of third. Writing in third gives you some freedom in both the way the character develops and the way the plot is moved forward. You can hide things from readers while narrating in third person while in first person the character is more exposed. In third person you can shift from character to character. Other forms of third person include omniscience and objective. Omniscience encompasses all of the characters and knows everything about them while objective third person is not so intimate and is more impersonal. The narrator cannot tell the reader the thoughts of any of the characters, just the story. The disadvantages of third person are that your reader may not connect as well to your character and there is a danger that your prose becomes boring and tedious and particularly in third person omniscience, your reader may become confused if you leap into the heads of many different characters all the time.

Whatever voice you choose to tell your story in, it’s important to make sure that your own personal voice comes through. If you think of your favourite author, you know by reading one of their books, that whether they write it in first or third person, their distinctive style will shine through, and this is an important aspect to polish when starting out as a writer. Find your voice and whatever way you write it in, your reader will, hopefully, enjoy it.

Dark Corners is a collection of short stories about the concealed, the aphobic, the sinister and the supernatural.

The title story is about a man who starts to see things that nobody else can see, demonic creatures that slide him towards insanity. In Dead by Twelve, Molly has to avoid the results of a witch’s curse after she accidentally runs over someone in her car. Inside tells the story of Sylvia who can hear something scratching inside the walls of her new house but is it her imagination or is something trying to get out? In Darkling, Jed and his friends go ghost hunting on Halloween but find a lot more than they bargained for. Eve is convinced she is being taken by aliens in Origin but the truth is a lot more horrifying. In One Day in July, old George is doing his weekly shop at the local supermarket when all hell breaks loose, literally and he sees things that will change his life.

These are just a few of the stories in Dark Corners. Make sure you leave the light on after reading it…

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Genre – Supernatural

Rating – PG13

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