The Voices in My Head

I, too, have been lax in posting. However, I can now happily report that last week I finished the sequel to Blood Law, which is tentatively titled Blood Secrets. (As with all things in publishing, the title is subject to change.) I handed it over to my editor on Thursday and was looking forward to a nice relaxing vacation, at least a week, before breaking out the white board and Post-It Notes to plot the next project.

The voices in my head had other ideas.

Don’t misunderstand me. The voices were very nice. They actually slept in and waited a full twenty-four hours before demanding my attention like the demons they literally are.

I forced myself to ignore them for the weekend and take a little time to bask in the glory of having finished my second book. However, the more I ignored them, the louder they shouted. Now, instead of spending the week organizing my office after a massive relocation effort, I find myself standing in front of a white board with a dry-erase marker in one hand and a pad of Post-It Notes in the other.

It sounds crazy, and perhaps I am, but even though this new project will be written in first person POV, I “hear” the other characters interacting with the protagonist and all have distinctive voices. With Blood Law and Blood Secrets, which are written in third person with multiple POV characters, it seemed natural to “hear” these other characters and give them a view-point. For the new project, however, it seems really odd.

As a reader, I like both first and third person, as long as the characters are engaging, and have even seen second person POV used effectively in A Good and Happy Child by Justin Evans. As a writer, I think I like working in third a little better than first, but I’m comfortable writing in both. I try to pick the point of view that will carry the most impact for the story. Although, there are times when a central character simply steps forward and says, “This is my story and no one’s telling it but me.” That would be the scenario I’m facing with this new project.

So, my fellow writers, do you have a preferred POV from which to work? Do you switch them up depending on what best suits the story? Have you ever had a character dictate the POV of the story? Am I the only one who hears voices?

6 Responses to “The Voices in My Head”

  1. 1 Glenna Fairbanks
    June 22, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    My first book, as yet unpublished because I am still searching for an agent, has three significant characters – each with a POV as times – in addition to my protagonist. And there are even other less prominent, but also important characters, who express their POVs when appropriate. Of course this is a police procedural and nothing in that (real) field is ever accomplished without a Team. Of course, having worked in that arena for a long time, I had no problem hearing every one of their voices. Would have been “dead meat” if I hadn’t.

  2. June 22, 2010 at 8:30 pm

    I’m right with you on hearing the voices. I’m currently writing my first 1st person novel, as I usually write in a tight 3rd, but even so, I hear them having the conversations that belong on the page. There’s been a lot of research showing the line between certain mental illnesses and creativity is a thin one. As long as the voices keep telling us to describe things on paper, I think we’re safe.

    Oh, and I do use the POV the story calls for, but it’s usually 3rd.

  3. June 22, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Hi Glenna,

    I don’t personally have experience in law enforcement but know people who do after having worked for many years in the medical field and they don’t mind answering questions. For most procedurals, I think third person POV does work best for the reasons you pointed out, but it does largely depend on what we’re trying to accomplish with the story and who the characters are in terms of personality. If they’re the Dirty Harry type who doesn’t play well with others, first person would work well.

    And it’s good to know I’m not the only one hearing voices. 😉

  4. June 22, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Hi Margaret,

    I’ve seen the other side of that line. It’s not a pretty picture. (I worked in a psychiatric care facility for a while.)

    This new project is my first novel in first person. I usually write in third but have written a few short stories (unpublished) in first. It seems weird switching between the two and still hearing these secondary characters talking to the first person protagonist. Could be because I’ve been working almost exclusively with third person for the past couple of years, and I’m just rusty. I’m sure it’ll come back to me.

  5. 5 Glenna Fairbanks
    June 23, 2010 at 10:40 am

    Most of my characters are based to some degree on real people I worked with – or “critters” I dealt with. So I know their voices pretty well, even when my characters are compositions of people combined with fictionalized ones for the sake of the storyline. Another factor that helps is working in that business, one is always encouraged to think (imagine) how one would react to a variety of situations that could happen. It sure encourages the imagination – something the writer now continues to utilize. Something like flipping back and forth between then and now that I’m retired from that “real” world and turned writer. However, as a writer, I write to show readers the inside of the system from the various components (street enforcement, courts, corrections, etc. since I worked in all of them.

  6. June 29, 2010 at 4:32 am

    *is catching up on blog reading after summer classes(an oxymoron if I ever heard one)*

    I hear lots of voices. Some of them are book characters. I try not to think too hard about who the others are. It’s pretty scary sometimes because I don’t conciously develop character voice. Imagine 18 total starngers coming up to you in an alley and they all start talking at once. *shivers*

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