Wednesday, May 25, 2011

He said, I said, She says, I say

Ahhh the ups and downs of choosing a tense for a novel. Everyone has a favorite tense. Mine is third person omniscient, but I've also dabbled in the first person. My friend and I were in Starbucks today, sipping coffee as if it were the last liquid on earth, and we wound up talking about different tenses. She is starting her own book, and she said something that stuck with me, and that I hadn't considered before.

There are generally two types of stories (at least to my calculations). Those that are driven by character/character development, and those that are pushed forward by events. Now I see first person (sometimes) to be a bit of a cheat. If a story is driven by character, it is much easier to gain sympathy in the reader if the style is 1st person. Perhaps this is why I am not a huge fan of the first person, and prefer the third.

What my friend pointed out today however, as we drank our frilly drinks to funky music, was that a 1st person book driven by story is harder to write than a 3rd person driven by story. In that sense, it is easier to write 3rd person omniscient for story driven plot because you can jump from perspective to perspective instead of sticking to one character. We talked about this for about 20 minutes or until the coffee ran out.
Not bad for a couple of teenagers, eh?

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