Léna is also a Regional Manager for Writopia Lab whose mission is to foster joy, literacy, and critical thinking in kids and teens from all backgrounds through creative writing.

"Well, the question is, what do you want to believe? Do you want to live in a world where things are possible, or in one where they aren't?" Cin, Edges.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Writing Challenge: Switching Narrative Voice

BOISE, ID - MARCH 20:  A cheerleader for the P...Image by Getty Images via @daylife
Now that I've handed in LAND OF THE LOST & FOUND to my agent, I can't sit around and twiddle my thumbs for his response, I need to have another WIP to sink my teeth into. Fortunately, I've got IN YOUR FACE, and I've got my work cut out for me: my writing challenge in the months ahead will be taking this old manuscript with a story I love, and breathing new life into it by changing narratives and tense. Sound simple? It's not!

The manuscript isn't that old - I started writing it after my agent had sold EDGES to FSG (and we all know that it was published two and a half years later!) I wrote another double narrative in the third person past tense. I LOVE double narratives, because I love how it shows different points of view! And I think that it's so important to remember that our perspective is not the only one, as I did in EDGES, showing the different faces of addiction in families.

But it wasn't working for IN YOUR FACE. Now, I don't want to give away too much, but it's based on a trip down to Panama City Beach in Florida to participate in a cheerleading convention, ON A REALITY TV SHOW. How could I have not written it in first person present all along?

I can hear my main character's voice better. She's more alive. It's so different! Such a great exercise! It is not merely changing the she to I, the was to is. Check out the one sentence I was able to work on this morning:

The ride to the airport rushed by in a blur. Memories of things said tugging at her mind, things that she would rather not think about.

Changes to:

The ride to the airport is a blur as memories tug at the corners of my mind.  Self analysis has never been my friend, so I try to focus on my environment, even though we have left Manhattan far behind. I wish that we had stopped in Harlem to buy a mango-on-a-stick or at least some honey-roasted peanuts, but how could I have done that with a camera in my face? 

It's so immediate, and works better for the situation. I am hearing her thoughts. And dialogue is so different too - there's no he said, she said.

The whole manuscript is going to either be cut, or changed, so why am I even working from it? It's like a blanky, I need it for security! I'm tricking myself into thinking I'm just revising, when I am really rewriting and reconstructing.

Maybe that's why I've been procrastinating so much! Today's excuse? My daughter is sick, so I've been cuddling her while she dozes. (I'm supposed to be at the library with Judy Blundell, but she understands.) Right now my daughter is watching The Lady and the Tramp with eyes glazed over, while I at least write something.
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  1. Look forward to learning about your cheerleading/reality adventures and how that translates into a novel.
    Are there any clips on YouTube?
    Post a linky-do if there are. :)

  2. I'm writing a novel right now in present tense, first person. It's tricky at first but I really love it!

    Good luck with your revising :D

  3. Also if I may be so bold, I think the present tense first person writing style is quite appropriately "In Your Face" ! :D

  4. Oh and last but not least, hope your daughter feels better soon for both of you guys' sakes.

    I have Edges on order and I can't wait to read it :)

  5. Carrie - I was on the second episode of a show that lasted only five episodes. The show was called INTO CHARACTER, about making movie dreams come true. It was very sweet - probably why it didn't last, and I can't find any clips!

    Jenny - thanks for all of your comments and I hope you enjoy EDGES!

  6. How beautiful is the change, and I already have several students in mind who would probably love this book!

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