Wednesday, May 2, 2012

WRITING IN THE FIRST PERSON by J Bennett


Arguing With Myself And Other Quirks Of Writing In First Person
By J Bennett

Thank you to Deb for hosting me on Two Ends of the Pen and for supporting so many talented authors.  As a reader, I’ve always loved books written in first person and wondered what it was like for an author to write an entire novel in the voice of someone else. Well, I got to find out when I wrote my debut novel, Falling – Girl with Broken Wings.

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Maya and I don’t always get along. She can be stubborn and reticent to follow directions. This can get frustrating, especially because I’m the one who’s supposed to be calling the shots.

Of course, Maya and I don’t face the same challenges. A bad day for Maya involves being kidnapped by a stranger, turned into something other than human and rescued by two vigilante half-brothers she never knew she had. A bad day for me, on the other hand, might be a flat tire or finding out that my local grocery store has run out of my brand of orange juice.

Maya, if you haven’t guessed, is a character in my debut paranormal novel, Falling – Girl With Broken Wings. The story unfolds through her perspective, and finding her voice has been both a thrill and challenge for me as a writer.

When I started writing Falling, I knew it was going to be in first person. Maya didn’t give me much of a choice. She was already awake inside my mind, whispering her story – the kidnapping, the change, the new abilities she develops and the terrible hunger that fuels them. 

It’s difficult to explain the process of slipping beneath the skin of another – especially someone who doesn’t actually exist. Maya and I have a lot in common, (as they say, write what you know), but I’ve also imbued her with lots of different traits of others I’ve known in my life.  The amazing and wonderful thing is, the more I write in her voice, the stronger Maya becomes.

First person does present some challenges, however. Looking through the eyes of a single character limits the story to their experiences and colors everything with their biases. For example, Maya and I argue a lot when it comes to her eldest brother Tarren.

To say that Maya and Tarren have a complicated relationship is quite the understatement. The first time they meet, Tarren actually tries to kill her.  Maya is swiftly turning into an angel (not a good thing), and Tarren believes he must kill her before she becomes too strong. His reasoning is understandable, at least to me. I know how he is driven by a fierce need to protect his younger brother, Gabe, who is much more trusting and na├»ve about the danger Maya presents.

Maya, on the other hand, isn’t about to forgive Tarren or see beyond his cold exterior…at least until, well, you’ll have to read the book. As an author, it was definitely a challenge to show Tarren’s true nature when Maya was dead-set against giving him even an inch.

Even beyond Tarren, Maya and I have regular squabbles. In the end, however, she and I are partners, and I couldn’t imagine telling this story without her.

Falling is J Bennett’s debut novel and the first book in the Girl With Broken Wings series. It is currently available as an ebook for $2.99 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Read a free sample at www.GirlWithBrokenWings.com. J Bennett is a professional copywriter and copyeditor. She also writes the blog www.ShyWriter.com