***Note: alliteration in title caused by too much time spent in the company of my fellow Duellist. It’s an infectious disease, but I am receiving medical attention. I promise the novel is clean.***

While writing StairJumpers, my biggest problem so far has been perspective and narrative voice. Many writers always write from the same point of view (either First or Third person, or Second if you’re a maverick!) and either in the past or the present tense. I find it very difficult to settle on one combination of these, and usually when I come to write something new I just start writing in whatever feels comfortable for the story, and I don’t have any problems.

With StairJumpers however, I’m finding it very difficult. I started writing in First Person Present, which I began experimenting with during my Creative Writing Masters, when we looked as some of the work by Raymond Carver. Besides from inspiring me with his sharp, clear writing and gripping short stories pried from the mundane lives of his very ordinary characters, I took to the narrative voice and perspective that he used. I began to write in this style more and more, and the last thing that I wrote, a fairly lengthy short story of about 10,000 words, was in Present. I really like the style. It is quite contemporary, writing as events in the story occur, and it gives the story a natural sense of immediacy and a faster pace.

However, as I began to write more of StairJumpers I had a crisis of faith a couple of days ago (as those of you following along with the Duel Twitter feed may have noticed) in which I was finding it an increasing struggle to put myself in the shoes of my young narrator Sam, and I really felt like a rewrite of what I have done so far, to change it into Third Person, was on the cards.

Tentatively I tried writing the next part of the story in Third Person, but it wasn’t working either. Writing became like stacking bricks for a wall, time-consuming and laborious. And the words weren’t even laying straight. I think it was something to with the combination of Third Person and the Present tense; they weren’t working so well together for me. Plus, I had planned to write StairJumpers from two First Person perspectives – Part 1 as Sam, Part 2 as Ollie, and then back to Sam for Part 3.

So, I ditched that idea, and went back to First Person. However, I decided to switch to Past tense, a little safer I felt. I began to write, longhand, this morning, and everything was going great. Pages of writing were flowing out of me, it was working! Then I stopped, look down, studied the words. Something wasn’t quite right. Then I realised what it was. Suddenly I was writing in the Present tense again! Without any conscious decision, I had somehow changed from Past tense back to Present, and I had been writing along for several pages oblivious of the change. My mind had decided all on its own, and not told me.

Either that or the story chose it.

So, it seems that, at the time of writing this, I’m back where I began, in First Person Present. Let’s hope it stays that way, for my sanity at least.

DISCLAIMER: Apologies for the rather boring post for those of you who aren’t writers. Narrative voice issues, while annoying, are perhaps not the most interesting topic to read about. Next post will be more frivolous, I promise!

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