It’s been a while since I updated everyone on my novel-that-also-doubles-as-my senior-thesis Rose, but I have the opportunity to do so now. Especially since I can’t do my job search without updating my resume, and I’m waiting to hear back from a couple of people on whether I can use them as references.
Well, if you’ll remember my post on my first thesis meeting, you know I ended up switching to first person and rewriting some of the early chapters to make them darker. Well, this past Wednesday there was another meeting with my advisor and the other student I’m working with (I keep meaning to ask if I can use their real names, but I keep forgetting. Oh well, I think I’ll stick to M, my advisor, and P, the other student I’m working with). They had a lot of suggestions for me:
- Probably a hold over from writing Reborn City and Video Rage, but I have a tendency to explain the stranger elements of the story. Works great for science fiction, but terrible for horror. So I’m trying not to explain the stranger aspects and let the story tell it through what happens.
- There are a few comedy elements that I’m trying to cut out. We’ll see how that goes.
- There are some things I will need to change for the first couple chapters, but that’ll wait for the second draft.
- Most importantly, I’ve switched to narrating in present tense.
That last one is a big one for me. In a previous post, I mentioned that I probably shouldn’t narrate in present tense because I’m not very good or familiar with it and because I have the tendency to switch back into past tense. I explained that to M, but he insisted that I at least try it. His reasoning was that since I’ve been narrating the story in past tense with a first person narrator this whole time, it’s pretty much assumed that things will turn out for the best (probably true). Putting the story in first person would probably serve to add a little mystery and uncertainty to the story.
So I thought, might as well give it a shot. I’d switched from third to first person already, and that had brought about a definite improvement, though I have to work harder to make sure that Rose’s constant state of terror doesn’t start to sound boring. On the other hand, I was already comfortable with writing in the first person. One of my early attempts at writing a novel was in the first person, and for a story written in my early-to-mid teens I did a pretty good job. Writing in the present tense was something I’d hardly ever done before.
So I rewrote parts of Chapter Three to start with, the parts that needed some holes to be plugged so that the story could continue to flow.Then I wrote Chapter Four, and over the past twenty-four hours or so I wrote Chapter Five. Both of those chapters and the parts of Chapter Three I rewrote were written in present tense. And it is weird for me. I don’t know many other authors who write that way, so I don’t have an example to refer back to. I’m basically feeling it out as I go.
But I somehow managed to do it. And it’s been a rather dramatic shift, like the DNA of the story has been altered. I keep thinking back to that scene from the first Sam Raimi Spider-Man film, when Peter Parker’s DNA gets rewritten by spider-DNA, causing his whole self to change. It’s that dramatic a shift, like the whole thing has changed in a very important way while still remaining the same basic story. I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before.
Well, I’ll keep writing it in first-person present tense, hopefully gaining a knack for writing stories like this along the way (it could be useful for a future story). I just hope that when we meet again on Halloween, I don’t have to do another major change to the story. Writing this thing’s been hard enough as it is with just a busy schedule. Writing in unfamiliar styles and with so many new rules or ideas to incorporate certainly makes the job a bit tougher.
Well, it’s late, so I’m going to bed. Hopefully I’ll start Chapter Six tomorrow after classes and homework. Wish me luck, my Followers of Fear.