Thursday, November 15, 2018

Dear O'Abby: I think I'm telling my story wrong.

Dear O'Abby,

I'm doing NaNo this year, and am doing really well.  Almost at the 25K point.  But I realized yesterday, that I'm telling the story from the wrong POV.  I started writing this story in first person, with two narrators each taking a chapter in turn.  But now I'm realizing the book would be better served by being written in close third person POV.  How should I proceed?  I feel like I'm making such great progress, but I know the way I'm telling the story is wrong.

Kind regards,


Dear Baffled,

You are not alone.  Figuring out you've picked the wrong way or character to tell your story is a very common writing problem.  And probably one of the most frustrating and painstaking to try and fix.

But you have the advantage of having figured it out early, before the whole book is finished.

The way I see it, you have two choices.  Keep going the way you are now and finish the book.  Changing the character voices and perspectives mid-stream might be too challenging when you're working to a tight deadline like NaNo.  You can go back afterward and change the POV when you edit if you feel the same way when you're finished.

Or, if you think you can switch without it being too difficult, start writing in third person and finish the book this way.  In this scenario you will have the advantage of having already found the characters' voices and rhythms in the new POV and rewriting the beginning will be easier.

Just don't stop writing while you figure out what to do.  NaNo is supposed to be a first draft, a vomit draft even.  You expect to do a lot of re-writing once you're finished, so this isn't the end of the world.   Do what you have to do to finish the book.  You can figure out what to do with the POVs later.

X O'Abby

1 comment:

  1. There is a third option here. Be warned, it subverts the 50,000 words in 30 days timeline of NaNo, but I think that's okay.

    If you think switching POV mid-stream will be too difficult (and I personally don't have a problem with it and have done so myself), or if it's so in your head that you just don't feel you can proceed with all that previously written, first Person stuff behind you...then go back to the beginning and start over in third. Heresy, I know, but I think people sometimes get too caught up on the 50K in 30 days thing, when the original goal of NaNo (as far as I know) is to get people who want to write, writing. I say, don't get too hung up on the deadlines and word counts and 'winning', and remember that the manuscript doesn't have to be 'finished' in 30 days and 50K-ish words (i.e., doesn't need a complete beginning/middle/end). Your story may need 80,000 or 90,000 or 100,000 words to complete. Just keep going when the month is over and finish what you started here; to me, that's how you really 'win' NaNo.

    Good luck!


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