All the fiction I’ve written to date—unpublished things, as well as my Sally Solari novels—has been in the first person. However, when I started book one in my mystery series, Dying for a Taste, I actually did so in the third person. There was no particular reason for this choice, other than the fact that most novels seemed to be written that way.
But about four chapters in, something seemed wrong. It was as if Sally’s voice was shouting to me, “Let me out; I want to be heard!” So I went back and rewrote everything in the first person. And it clicked. It turned out Sally had been right.
I need to be me!
The manuscript for the fifth book in the series is now finished, and as I wait for it to see the light of day, I’ve begun work on something new—something that could perhaps turn into a new series, one set on the Big Island of Hawai‘i, where I now live half time.
As has been my habit, I again started this new project in the first person. But then I stopped. What if I were to try writing in a different way? What if I used the third person? Could it help me in finding a fresh, new voice for this character I was now trying to flesh out?
So I went back and rewrote the first few chapters, switching out every instance of “I” to a “she.” It’s painstaking work, as you have to search for all the “mys” and “ours,” as well.
And of course the way the story is told also changes when you move from first person to third. Not to mention that you also have to decide which third person you’re going to employ: the so-called “limited” third person (where the story is told from only one person’s point of view),
or an “omniscient” third person (where the narrator knows what’s going on in the heads of multiple characters).
Suspense novels and thrillers—as well as science fiction books—frequently employ the omniscient third, changing point of view from scene-to-scene. This allows the reader to get inside the head of many different characters, and can also serve to give more of a breathtaking pace to the story.
But I instead chose the limited third person for this new manuscript, whereby the reader would only know as much as my protagonist did. It seemed more appropriate for the purposes of a traditional murder mystery. After all, where’s the mystery if you’re inside the head of all those who are suspects for the murder?
And you know what? It’s been fun writing in this new third person. I’m enjoying stretching my writing chops by having to tell the story in a different manner. We shall see what happens, but at least for the time being, I’m going to keep at it this way.
In other news, I’m thrilled to announce that the first in my Sally Solari series, Dying for a Taste, has just been released as an AUDIOBOOK! Yay! You can purchase it here.
Readers: Do you notice when a novel is told in the first as opposed to third person? Do you find it affects how you approach the story, or how you feel about the characters?