Writing in Person

A lot of people ask me about writing in the first person and third person. I particularly like when chapters are written from different character’s perspectives but this does not necessarily mean in the first person. I wanted to quickly talk about three different ways of producing narrative that can have slightly different impacts on the readers.

1) The third person.

This old chestnut is used widely and definitely has its place in traditional fiction. There are many novels and short stories that work particularly well when the author is far removed from the action and can observe everything the characters are doing. I call this ‘helicopter mode’ as the writer is remote and can move between locations rapidly, jumping from one event to another without having the limitation of only seeing what the protagonist can see with their own eyes. Harry Potter is written using the third person narrative style.

2) The first person.

I have written a book entirely through the eyes of one character and this can be incredibly effective as any reader can feel like they are inside that character’s mind, going through the plot points and experiencing emotions with that individual. It feels generally more biographical and can be a brilliant way to engage an audience but it has limitations. Unless the main character decides to detail everything the other characters do, you may not always know what else is going on, without having those events seen through one pair of eyes and from one point of view. The Perks of Being a Wallflower is told by one person using a series of letters that he writes. It is a superb book with a clear voice and strong storyline.

There is another way of using the first person comfortably. Each chapter can be told by a different character. In some such stories, often the chapters bounced from one person to another, with extra characters added in at crucial points in the books. Joanne Harris often uses multiple first person chapters to great effect.

3) The third person close.

This intriguing style is used as a compromise between the first and third person and allows the reader to cosy up to a character for a while but does allow the author to flip between characters when needed. You are not inside anybody’s head when you read such stories but the narrative indicates thoughts and feelings. Liane Moriarty used this well in Nine Perfect Strangers where she wrote a chapter about each character but did not use ‘I, we, my’ pronouns. Instead she mentioned in great detail what each person did and thought.

Example: Max had no idea what she was talking about but he nodded generously, ignoring her fowl breath and counting down the seconds until he could get away from her.

Love Books

I like reading fiction books,

I don’t judge covers by their looks.

I like to enjoy discovering plots,

To meet new characters who get tied in knots.

To feel their struggles and know their pain,

To follow their journey against the grain.

Become entwined in heart-warming tales,

Become part of their life, watching over their tails.

Become engrossed as I read late at night,

Know that I simply must read their plight.

Whether they do it wrong or right,

I need to know that the end is in sight.

And then another book appears,

I hope this next one don’t take years.

What should we really worry about?

So, we have a lot of problems going on right now and it can be messy thinking about them. How do we start to untangle everything that is happening globally? Who knows how to unpick the subjects that need tackling and how can we all play a part?

This set of blog posts is designed to begin a discussion about priorities, engagement and solutions. Seemingly so awkward a topic, we have to do more than just rant on twitter or post repeated pictures on our instagram feeds. The first thing we all need to do is look at the urgency surrounding current news issues and find ways to unravel the issues that cannot wait to be handled.

Covid-19 and its whiplash

We have all been turned upside down one way or another by this virus which has riddled its way through many countries and shown no sign of distinguishing between the privileged and the poor. It has come for us all equally and yet the people in power have not always taken it seriously enough, especially in Brazil and the US.

There is no quick fix for this but we cannot simply wish it would go away. We have to adapt the best practices from around the world in order to keep the virus down as much as possible. Sometimes that means changing our plans, cancelling our holidays or perhaps not having that party we were desperately looking forward to. Lives come first and so yes, we have to adapt in order to protect others, even if we ourselves may not be so vulnerable. And let’s face it, there is no definite when it comes to Covid. I have known perfectly healthy people come down badly with it and be hospitalised or worse still.

But there are other issues

Other problems are constantly being remembered and need dealing with: Brexit, inequalities in the work place, racial disadvantage, climate change, economic slumps, mental health problems…

The list is not limited to these things but we do have to stop and think about which of these is most pressing in terms of humanity. For me, the climate emergency is unavoidable. It affects each and every one of us and is rapidly destroying the habitats of animals and plants on a daily basis. Sometimes irreversibly.

Yet it is climate change that has taken a back door. Here, whilst a pandemic has restricted our travel and made people aware of the fact that they can often work from home and do not need to fly around the world for meetings, we have seen very little media attention upon the climate problem that is gradually engulfing us.

I would say, there are many vital issues that need addressing but only one is time critical. What do you think?

Cities can be beautiful but let’s protect them. Reduce the smog and reduce the use of cars and planes.