How to choose a point of view 🌻
Welcome to So Relatable, a bi-weekly newsletter featuring conversations about the creative process, suggestions for nourishing yourself, and inspiring links. I’m glad you’re here!
Yesterday morning, armed with a full pot of coffee and a pre-dawn morning, I sat at my desk and wrote the first 468 words of a brand new novel. Those words were... okay? I guess? Maybe? It's hard to tell just yet. The important thing is that they exist, which means this new project exists, too.
Over the last few weeks, I wrote an outline of the whole book which totaled just over 8,000 words. It included the plot and a two sub-plots, major and minor characters, climaxes and resolutions, plans for poignant scenes and ideas for beautiful final images. I felt pretty good about the outline. Looking it over, I thought "This is a book I'd read."
Actually writing the book, I can already tell, will be far less forgiving. For one thing, I don't know if I should write it in first person ("I wrote some words and they were terrible") or third person ("She edited those words and they were marginally better"). Since POV sets the tone for the whole project, it's an important thing to figure out!
In the past, I naturally gravitated to first person. I liked the intimacy of listening to one character, no matter how unreliable they might be. I also liked the way first person perspective limits the story - the reader can only know what the narrator knows, which creates interesting challenges and opportunities. In the last few years, however, my inclinations have shifted to third person. It forces me to rely less on a single character and more on the narrative voice - that is, my voice. The question is whether I I want my voice in this book. Who is the best person to tell this story? Is my main character compelling enough to carry it? Or will I have to step in?
The last book I wrote started out in first person and eventually shifted to third, dipping into different characters' minds depending on the chapter. It was a story that affected many people, so they all needed a chance to tell their side. This new book feels like it will be different. Or maybe it's just so new that I need to get to know the main character before I begin to spend time with anyone else. The only way to find out is to keep writing.
So that's what I'll do - stick with first person for now and spend a hundred or so pages with a single character until I know her voice, her desires, and her disappointments as if they were my own. And then, later, if I want to rewrite the whole book in third person, I'll brew an extra big pot of coffee, wake up even earlier, and get to work. 💛
Snack of the Week
One of my goals for 2020 is to bake 24 loaves of bread, and this week I kicked off the challenge with homemade pita bread. I followed a recipe I found on The Kichn, and it was surprisingly easy! The hardest part was kneading the dough for five straight minutes, which I guess means I need to do more pushups. At any rate, make your own pita bread and then serve it with The Stew - you won't regret it!
If one of your 2020 goals is to produce, promote and profit from your creative work, check out For The Interested, a weekly newsletter by Josh Spector. I've been reading for a year or so now, and always glean at least one or two great ideas from the links he shares. 💬
Making Art is Good for Your Health. Here's How to Start a Habit, NPR. "99% of the time, people find that if they give up the idea that they're not good enough, if they give up the judgment, making art actually feels good." 🎨
Like Sending Bees to War: The Deadly Truth Behind Your Almond-Milk Obsession, The Guardian. The title pretty much says it all, but I would like to add that this is one of the main reasons I've completely switched to oat milk. It's much more environmentally friendly, incredibly delicious, and increasingly accessible. Save the bees and pour a glass today! 🐝
7 Ways the Internet is Improving Language, Mental Floss. I just finished Because Internet by Gretchen McCulloch, and it was such a fun and interesting look at the linguistics of the internet! Highly recommended, but in the meantime this article offers a nice intro to her writing and ideas. 🤔
A Tiny Challenge
It's a great week to start something new! A creative project, a library book, a portrait of your beloved pet, a cutting from a houseplant, an exercise routine, a fresh pot of coffee, a new notebook. Hit reply and let me know what you choose to do.
Thanks to Elizabeth M. and Terra D. for supporting this newsletter last week!
My oat milk latte was extra delicious thanks to you.
Want to buy me a ☕️ to help fuel this newsletter?
Venmo: @Christine-Hennessey or PayPal Me.