Tuesday, 18 November 2008

First person present tense

I'm delighted to say I've pretty well broken the back of my nanowrimo rewrite. It's a novel I wrote a couple of years ago, since when it's lain in a drawer. Written in a nano frenzy, it was very rough. It was only my second attempt at a novel. I chose third person past tense, with the POV moving around the three main characters, but one flaw I sensed in it was this dissipated the tension. So when I finally decided to have another go I chose to make it a kid's story, first person from the boy's POV. I also settled for present tense - can't remember why, although at the start it seemed to suit the vernacular way he spoke. You know: so I says to him sort of thing.

But it's been hard going. The new POV called for a completely new opening, no problem there. But once the action got tighter I found the limits of first person a struggle to overcome. You have to come up with ingenious ways for why he knows things, or how he discovers things that were taken as read with third person. And at first I kept slipping into past tense without realising it. Very frustrating when you have to redo a page changing all the verbs. But that's improved with practice.

So for a while I wasn't making much headway and really felt it was more trouble than it was worth. This week I seem to have turned a corner and the ideas are flowing again. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But I still haven't resolved the big finale...

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