Posted in Writing

Hearing Your Manuscript’s Voice: Narrative Mode

The work-in-progress that’s been getting the most attention from me lately (despite occasional feelings of this-sucks-itis, only overcome by thoughts of but-you’re-practically-almost-finished-so-keep-going) is in the third person. And it’s actually the first time in years and years that I’ve written a story in third person. It’s so confusing to my brain that I accidentally wrote in first person for a few paragraphs the other day… Never mind that I have two main characters, which is actually part of the reason why I decided to tell the tale in third person. That, and it’s middle grade and the MG books I’ve read tend to be third person more often than not.

My other WIP is first person, although I can’t even blame that for mixing up the two works, as the main characters WIP #1 are about as different from main character in WIP #2 as can be. Still, besides the fact that WIP #2 is YA and a good chunk of the YA books I read are in first person (as is the manuscript-on-submission), there is absolutely no way I could tell this story from any other point of view. The story literally hinges on his perception of the world; from anyone else’s, there wouldn’t be as much of a plot. Any filmed version of the story (ha ha) would have to adjust to the way he sees the world; I don’t even know if it could be done. The voice of the manuscript is essential to the story as a whole.

I think that’s what I like about first person narrative, even if it isn’t always so integral to the plot as it is in WIP #2. Yes, I know that third person narrative scenes tend to have a POV or two, but you may not get so deeply entrenched in a character’s head, and feel all of those messy feelings and biases as the character reacts to the situations you throw at him or her. Third person works better for WIP #1 because the plot is more important than any character’s POV, but still, I wonder if the feeling of detachment I have as I write it is what’s slowing me down. (Manuscript-on-submission’s best words-written-in-a-day stat: about 10,000 [I kid not…]. WIP #1: about 1000…. If I’m lucky…)

How do you find your manuscript’s voice? Do you prefer writing first or third (second seems like a choose-your-own-adventure novel to me, but I’m sure it’s been done effectively!) or switch freely between the two from work to work? Do you prefer reading in any particular narrative style?


Author of YA speculative fiction and cozy paranormal mysteries.

2 thoughts on “Hearing Your Manuscript’s Voice: Narrative Mode

    1. I had a crazy inspiring week (and, strangely, plenty of spare time on my hands!) and wrote a whole manuscript in 9 days. I wrote 5000 to 10,000 words a day. ^^ They were crazy days. I spent 8-10 hours writing and took breaks to eat and sleep, but I was so consumed with the story, I didn’t have much of an appetite and couldn’t sleep well! I’m glad I was able to get my story out, but I wouldn’t want to make myself sick again. (Most days writing I average between 500 and 1000 words!)


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