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The Sunday Squirrel: snippets (& some craft)

Truth be told, she’d had a bit of a crush on him. Nothing serious, but his death brought home her own mortality in a way she had no desire to think about. Not tonight, or frankly, ever. (Tara)

Her long blonde hair was pulled into a tight ponytail again. Last night, fresh out of the shower, she’d left it down to dry. If he had his way, she’d never wear it up again. (Mick)

The place was neat, mainly because he barely had anything. A couch and coffee table, two stools at the breakfast bar, and a huge flatscreen TV on the wall. No pictures, knick-knacks, or plants. Sterile popped to mind. (Jenna)

He’d lost some of his playful sparkle since the last time she’d seen him, but under the surface he seethed with barely restrained energy. He was a big ball of chaos, and she’d had enough of that for a lifetime, thank you very much. (Jenna)

Those are a few snippets from my current MS, Blind Fury.

I’ve been trying a lot of new things with this book. I mentioned outlining on Tuesday. One of the other techniques I’m trying is to write a scene in first person (and then changing it back to 3rd) to get more into the head of my characters. It’s a recommendation I’ve heard from several different people, but never tried before. So far I’m liking the results.

It’s not that I necessarily write better sentences in first person. I still find myself using the no-no words like thought, felt, wondered, and so on. But I lose the detachment of 3rd person and write things that might not have occurred to me when I was distancing myself from the character’s mind. The words on the page feel more conversational, more relaxed, to me.

In 1st person, I write in the character’s voice, instead of my own so their scenes have a distinct feeling. It helps me develop their mannerisms and quirks. It lets their personality shine through. I’m hoping 1st person will help me with emotion and setting too.

How it helps with emotion is probably obvious, but for setting, what I want is to notice the surroundings through the characters eyes. Maybe if I feel like I’m in his mind, I’ll be able to see things the way he would, notice what he would notice.

For example, an interior designer will look at a room differently than a five-year old girl or a police officer. One might notice the colors and furnishings, another the best hiding spots, while the last might note exits and people.

The only real downside of writing in 1st person is that I have to go back and change the pronouns and such back to 3rd. I'm sure along the way I'll miss a few. I think it's worth the sacrifice.

If you've tried this technique, I’d love to hear your experience.

Tell your friends!


  1. Reply

    Oooh, so glad you tried it!!! I know I’m going to miss changing some of the pronouns back again, but I agree with you…it is completely worth it because it’s helps you really get into the characters head.

    • Reply

      The results haven’t been shocking, and I find myself skipping back and forth because I’m so used to 3rd person, but I think as I get into it I will really feel the difference. Thanks, Sybir!

  2. Reply

    Hi Gwen,

    I did that with the manuscript my agent is shopping right now. I wrote half the book in first person (to get a deeper POV) and then switched to third. Had to go back through and change pronouns. When I gave it to my critique partners and beta readers, I explained what I did so they would be on the lookout for pronoun errors. I did have a few silly sentences. Can’t remember exactly what they were but something along the lines of, “SHE blew MY nose.”

    • Reply

      Ha, Kathy, I’ve found a few of those too, but I do think it’s helping. I’ve noticed that if I think something in third person and then rewrite it in first, I usually change it a little. It sounds less narrated and more personalized. I hope. 😉

      So, did you find that it helped, or have your CPs noticed a difference?

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