Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Resources » Writers Corner

Narrators need personality? WHAT? D:

Post a reply
User avatar



Gender: Female
Points: 828
Reviews: 0
Mon Jul 18, 2011 6:12 pm
View Likes
missalaineus says...



The book I'm currently working on is a bit of a risk and an experiment for me. First of all . . . I'll just cut to the chase here. One of the challenges it poses is it's odd POV. I'm not usually a first-person type of gal, but I decided to mix things up and see how it goes. The story is narrated by six people, each with their own pages of first person, looking back on their childhood to tell the story. Think To Kill a Mockingbird, how it's Scout's older self telling the story of her younger self. The problem is, the narration keeps on slipping into my voice rather than the character's! The characters themselves still act the same, but it reads like I'm the one telling the story. I may as well tell it in third person. This isn't what I had in mind.

Any tips on how to make the narrator's voice come through?
I'm the type of person that gives such good advise, people frame my quotes on a wall and don't follow them.




User avatar
1000 Reviews



Gender: Other
Points: 81451
Reviews: 1000
Mon Jul 18, 2011 8:12 pm
View Likes
Rosey Unicorn says...



Multiple drafts.

The same thing happened to me when I switched to first person. My first draft read like my voice, which sounded weird. But then I realized that I didn't exactly know how the characters would narrate the scene because I didn't know them that well. So I analyzed my narration, spent some time "interviewing" my character in my head ("how would you describe this scene?") and rewrote according to how the character would speak.

On draft 4, I'm getting close to getting her voice solid.

Really, there's not much of an answer past practice and to keep writing. You have to spend a lot of time with your character to write them in first person. And you can't really do that the first draft you write, unless the character really had a strong voce right from the start (which I consider a prerequisite for first person; the character has to be demanding the PoV and the voice must be in first person— the character wouldn't be captured otherwise). Even then, the voice takes awhile to develop and you need to get to know the character in ways you don't need to in third.
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo

#TNT




User avatar



Gender: Female
Points: 828
Reviews: 0
Mon Jul 18, 2011 9:57 pm
View Likes
missalaineus says...



Thanks Rosey!

Yeah, that's the thing...a couple of the characters I know really well. One of them I've known so long that he's like my mascot xD I guess it's just wierd writing them in first person. I'll pound out a first draft and then worry about voice when I get to editing :)
I'm the type of person that gives such good advise, people frame my quotes on a wall and don't follow them.




User avatar
1000 Reviews



Gender: Other
Points: 81451
Reviews: 1000
Tue Jul 19, 2011 12:30 am
View Likes
Rosey Unicorn says...



Even if you've known a character for years (as was the case with my character— I'd been writing her for about 3 years before switching to first person) it can still be odd capturing their voice in first person. Why I say it takes multiple drafts, lol
A writer is a world trapped in a person— Victor Hugo

#TNT




User avatar
1072 Reviews



Gender: Other
Points: 77025
Reviews: 1072
Tue Jul 19, 2011 3:04 pm
View Likes
Kyllorac says...



I have to add a caveat to Rosey's time and drafts thing. The most important thing for writing first-person is to be able to hear your character's voice.

Sometimes this ability to hear comes from knowing about your character or getting to know them over time, but it sometimes happens that a character is the voice alone at first, and as you go along and write the story in that voice, you learn more about the voice until you eventually know the character.

Almost all the (good) first-person pieces I've written have been the result of hearing a character's voice and discovering the details about their character as I write the story or as the character decides to tell me. It's almost as if, while I'm writing or thinking about them/their story, the character is there and talking to me, telling me what to write so that I'm more of a transcriber than a writer.

If you don't hear them right off the bat, asking them questions like Rosey suggested is a good way to weasel them out of silence.

Now, if you can reach the point where your viewpoint character(s) is like that to you, it will make ensuring their voice is distinct and consistent much easier, even if it does take time and work to be able to hear them in the first place.
Screwing with gender since 1995.


There are no chickens in Hyrule.




User avatar



Gender: Female
Points: 828
Reviews: 0
Thu Jul 28, 2011 6:21 pm
View Likes
missalaineus says...



Thanks for the advice! :D
I'm the type of person that gives such good advise, people frame my quotes on a wall and don't follow them.