The First Person Sequel

So what happened next in my first-person journey?

What happened is that while waiting for my holds of The Hunger Games trilogy at the library to coincide, I devoured a lovely little series that I won't title here (but which I shall name later, with hearty recommendations) but which has the most amazing pacing I've ever seen. Ever. Which is written in third person, I feel I should point out. And as soon as I finished, I started writing what I'm titling now as The Aftertaste of Revenge (though that, of course, is subject to change.)

I had absolutely zero plan. Zero. I just started writing (in first-person, no less! shocker - to me at least...and in present tense, too!), the story flowing from my mind as if it was my own. The story begins with my MC (who has very little resemblance to the series' female protagonist) asking permission to see David Shaw (who very quickly lost what little resemblance he did have to the antagonist) from a ditsy secretary named Sarah (who never entered the published series at all). When Sarah asks why my MC should be allowed to see David, my MC casually flips her hair over her shoulder and replies, "Because I'm Jenn Alistor."

And I'm sitting here, in my chair, my own fingers having typed that exchange, wondering who the heck Jenn Alistor is and why she wants to see David Shaw and why her name is making Sarah frightened. Also, why doesn't she have a gun? And why does Sarah think she should? And why on earth does Sarah think that Jenn named her gun, named it Callie?

I discovered something about writing in first-person as Jenn Alistor's story progressed. It tells itself. Characters start entering, plotlines begin emerging, and it's almost as if it's writing itself. I'd heard authors say that before, but I always rolled my eyes, wishing it was me but thankful that it wasn't, because my way, I had more control.

I have zero control over the Jenn Alistor story. What started as an action/adventure thriller grew to be a possible romance and is now (in addition to those) a look at the bitter taste of revenge...after it's sweet. I don't know how I got here. I don't know where I'm going.

And I especially don't know where Jenn's voice came from. She's snarky, but her snide remarks are tempered by the burden of guilt she carries. I've never had a character like her, with both an attitude and a "past". One or the other, yes, but never both.

So. That is what happens when you start writing in first-person. You lose control. Your characters evolve and become real and have thoughts, and your only duty is to put them in a Word document.

Beware the first-person, especially the first-person present-tense. You may never return.

(This isn't meant to diss third-person at all. I love third-person, and I still write and read abundant materials in third-person. This is just what happened to me...)

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