1. abby75
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    abby75 Member

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    Writing in the fist person.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by abby75, Jul 30, 2012.

    I wrote a short story that I was very pleased with, it was one of those rare occasions where it just flowed without a lot of thought, but it is written in the first person and results in the character's death. Is this acceptable? Obviously if the person is dead they can't be recounting the event, but when I tried to convert it to third person it just didn't work. I also thought that I could expand on it and make it the first chapter in a crime novel, but again I don't think the first person angle would work in that context, what do other people think about this?
     
  2. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    OF course it is... I have three finished short's where my main character dies.. As my mentor has told me, short's don't always have to have happy endings.. look at the SciFi genre where the valiant hero usually sacrifices himself for the betterment of mankind.. Even with that said, novels don't always have to end smelling like roses, either.

    I would definitely be careful during revisions, and let the piece simmer for a week or two while turning your attention to other projects, and then returning to the piece at hand with some objectivity. The first person always creates a situation where I'm very emotionally invested.. The POV sometimes instigates such a strong attachment that I put a lot of myself into the character.. Nothing wrong with this, if you can do a good job distancing yourself enough to make it fiction, but in my experience, especially with first person, those moments where I 'flowed' aren't as perfect as they may have felt.

    As for the character being dead, true they cannot recount the event.. so why not tell the story leading up to the event? Third person won't solve that problem of yours. The only way you'd be able to make it plausible is by re-structuring it, so the story is being told from someone who witnessed your character's life.. detailing the events leading up until the character's death... or maybe it's a journal entry of someone's.. kind of like a story within a story.

    About the crime novel, that's up to you to decide.. not us.. only you know what's good for your story.. we're not here to bang out ideas for you.. especially since you've not given us much to work with other than, "My character dies.. and I think I may turn it into a crime novel."

    First person has been done with crime, many times, the most obvious example being Sherlock Holmes. Doyle's entire collection was told from the perspective of Watson, in first person. And, of course, you can't forget Poe's stories detailing the experiences of his detective: C. Auguste Dupin (who was the reason Holmes was conceived in the first place), and many of those were first person, if not all of them.. I could be wrong on this latter point, for it's been some time since I've read any of Poe's work.

    One last point.. If you've written a short, and you're thinking about turning it into the first chapter of a novel, that thought alone leads me to believe you left some loose ends behind in the story. In other words.. the story was unfinished.. and probably couldn't stand on its own. Granted, I'm using logic in a situation where you've provided little to no information, but it's based on personal experience. Chapters have a tendency to be a series of short stories in succession, sure.. but if you sat down with the intent of writing a short, revisit it, and make sure you tied all those ends, before 1. moving on, or 2. starting a novel.

    Hope this helps.
     
  3. abby75
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    abby75 Member

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    Thanks for that GoldenGhost. Its' not that I have a problem with the story being in first person, it's just the whole question of 'how can they be telling this story if they are dead' that bothers me. I haven't given a sample of the piece as I haven't contributed enough or been a member long enough to post for critiques, I am looking forward to doing so though, and when I do I hope you will share your thoughts on it. As for thinking of turning it into part of a novel, I do think it works as a stand alone piece, I just liked it so much I didn't want to leave it at that. I do think that if I did so I might ruin it though,but I do like your idea of writing up to the event instead of beyond it though, thanks!
     
  4. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I mean, I'm sure it has been done before.. it's just real hard to pull off.
     
  5. Thumpalumpacus
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    Thumpalumpacus Contributing Member

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    Clearly, the character's death requires a change in point-of-view, but a changing PoV shouldn't be a problem.
     
  6. abby75
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    I found it to be a huge problem. The story is fast paced, it's about a girl on a tube who is receiving strange messages on her mobile phone, it turns out to be a stalker who eventually gets to her and kills her. The whole atmosphere of the story is achieved by conveying her growing sense of unease, the story is nearly all told through her thoughts rather than external dialogue or narration. In the first person it sounds right, when I change it to third it doesn't have the same impact. I can't explain why. It's so frustrating talking about it when I can't post for critique yet, is posting a small section in a post allowed?
     
  7. ck1221
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    ck1221 Member

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    I honestly believe it can be done. Just because the MC is dead doesnt mean he cant tell his the story, its done in movies all the time. I think it would be something that wouldnt be revealed to the end, that you find out the MC is telling you his/her story of what happened that lead to his death. I think it would be a real holy sh*t moment. But thats just my opinion.
     
  8. abby75
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    Yes that is how it is! It is a shocking climax and I like it like that, but I'm still worried it's not the done thing.
     
  9. ck1221
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    Who cares? LOl..honestly, I think if its done well enough, it'll work. An example is The Lovely Bones where the MC is killed in the beginning of the story, she tells her story, even if its from a spirits pov. In my opinion, books like movies(if not more really) require suspension of disbelief to work. I think a good read is a good read regardless of how its "supposed to be".
     
  10. abby75
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    Thanks ck1221 :)
     

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