Over the last few weeks, I’ve been experimenting with new and different writing styles. Usually when I write a novel or a short story, they have these things in common:
- The main character is based off of myself emotionally, but physically, we look nothing alike
- Usually, I write in third person because, when writing a novel, its easier to be able to have scenes where the main character might not be involved. If it’s in first person, the main character always has to be there.
- Last but not least, I write them from the point of view of a girl, quite simply because I am a girl.
To dig deeper into these three things and explain to you what I mean by them, here’s a deconstruction:
The main character is based off of myself emotionally, but physically, we look nothing alike.
This one is probably the easiest one to break down. As a teenager, I look in the mirror and am not impressed with what I see. I don’t like my jiggly thighs, or the hair that grows on my arms, or the freckles that cover my cheeks, or the stomach that I have to squeeze into my jeans. When writing a story, the main character is usually based off of who I am. They’re sensitive, reserved and serious, but once you get to know them, they come out of their shell and show you that they can be fun-loving, kind, and have quite the sense of humour. Character traits are an easy thing to keep. It doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside because they are found within. So, when writing a book, I can create a character that has skinny legs and doesn’t resemble a giraffe. A character with tanned skin and zero freckles, a flat stomach and straight dark hair. Simply, someone I am not.
Usually, I write in third person because, when writing a novel, its easier to be able to have scenes where the main character might not be involved. If it’s in first person, the main character always has to be there.
I’ve experienced the bad side of this once before. When I was about twelve or thirteen, I wrote a novel about a girl who loses her mother in a car accident, but is able to go back in time to visit her when she discovers an old surfboard in her garage that holds magical powers. Sounds a bit hairy, I know, but forgive me. I was young when I wrote it. Anyway, I wrote the book in first person which meant, Willow, the main character, had to be on the page at all times. This proved difficult because there was a scene when she went back in time and saw her younger self, but speaking in first person confused the reader because when I wrote the word ‘I’, they didn’t know if I was talking about present Willow or past Willow. Since then, I decided that writing in third person was easier, both for me and for the reader.
Last but not least, I write them from the point of view of a girl, quite simply because I am a girl.
This should make sense to just about everyone. I know how a girl thinks. I know what goes through her head when she goes out, I know what sorts of clothes she’s attracted to, and I know the way she feels about certain things. Obviously, when writing, you want to write well, and writing about something you know practically everything about is much easier and provides much better results than writing about something that you’re inexperienced in or know little of.
So, for those three reasons, pretty much every novel or short story I’ve written in the past year or two has been about someone who thinks like me but doesn’t look like me, written in third person, and from the point of view of a girl. However, about a month ago, I had an idea. I wanted to experiment a new way of writing. Something that might be difficult, but something that I wanted to give my best shot at.
I’ve been writing a story in first person, and from the point of view of both a boy and a girl. I had to do a lot of research on how guys think, and it helped me to learn a lot of things. Imagine this: a man is standing in front of you.
Scenario 1: You are a girl. The man has long hair, just above his shoulders. It’s curly and is in between the colours of brown and blonde. He is quite tall and lanky, and his legs make up about 88% of his body. He has blue eyes, the colour of the sky on a clear day, and a moustache that curls at the edges. He is wearing a light grey shirt underneath a black denim jacket as well as blue ripped jeans and Nike runners. When he smiles, you notice his teeth are slightly crooked, but you also notice that he has dimples that appear in his cheeks when he is extremely happy.
Scenario 2: You are a boy. The man has blonde hair and is taller than you. His eyes are blue and he is wearing a jacket and jeans. When he smiles, you smile back.
The significant differences between the two are probably quite obvious. Boys don’t care about detail. When they meet a person, they don’t care what brand their shoes are, or what colour their shirt is. They don’t care if they have a pimple on their forehead or a hole in their shorts. To them, details are insignificant.
So, for the novel that I’m writing, each chapter alternates. Chapter one is from the point of view of a girl, and I find these chapters so much easier to write. I can type out five or six pages without hesitating. Chapter two is from the point of view of a boy, and it takes me probably double the amount of time to write half the amount of pages. Without detail, the story seems to go nowhere. I have to research what boys care about, and what goes through their heads in certain situations. The chapter to chapter alternations make it easier to write in first person because when I swap over, the other main character can be taken out of scenes.
Its a learning curve, but I’m enjoying it and hopefully its helping me to improve.
Until next time,