January 24th, 2006

First, I’d like to start by saying that I finally mailed my Blaze. Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Now say it twice more, but faster. *g* The manuscript is currently winging its way to Canada. Oh Canada, oh Canada…I can’t remember the rest of the words. Yes, I’m in a goofy mood. I think it’s because I’m swamped. Every time I check something off my list, something else gets added. Fun. Fun. Fun. Now to the ‘serious’ portion of the blog entry. *ggg*

As a writer, there are certain things that give me the willies. One is single title length. I so envy those writers who can lay down 400 pages without breaking a sweat. How do you do it? I don’t have a problem whipping out 80 to 90K, but as soon as I go past that page count my pulse starts to race and panic sets in. I can do it, but blood will flow–my blood.

The other fear is first person POV. Why? I have no idea, but for some reason I find writing in that POV daunting. I think it takes incredible skill to write an entire book in first person, while holding a reader’s attention. The latter is the key. I’m one of those readers who don’t like many first person books. The voice has to be ‘just so’.

Here’s my dilemma: when I write in first person, I think it’s some of my strongest and freshest writing. The characters pop off the page, the mood of the piece becomes richer and more vibrant, and I, as a writer, invest fully in the story. It’s weird, but it almost feels like a different person is doing the writing. (I told you it was weird. 😉

I don’t understand why this happens. Why can’t I experience the same thing when writing in third person? You’d think it would be easier, but it’s not. And yet, I get palpitations at the thought of writing 400 pages in first person. You’re talking about combining my two greatest writer fears. I suppose I could just put those stories aside until I’ve gained more courage as a writer. Trouble is I don’t think that would stop the little voice inside my head, daring me to try. It’s a double-edged sword.

Sometimes I think if I could just plow through a manuscript (kind of like ripping a Band-Aid off quick) it would make things easier. Then I remember how slow my writing pace is when I’m working in first person and dismiss the idea. Yes, even my writing pace changes when I switch from third person to first.

My question is what do you do when you fear what should be your greatest strength?


  1. I panic – no grin here – seriously, I panic. Then I procrastinate like nothing else. After doing the first two several times, I’m usually backed into a corner and have to do it. Sort of like fighting my way out. I do this with everything I fear – be it my greatest strength, my weakest link – anything. Flight then fight. But except for the Butcher books, I really dislike first person, so I don’t think I’d have to face that one. I’ve always been told that my greatest strength is writing, yet I fear it – too many mistakes for too many people to see. That’s one reason I blog a lot – tests. How many mistakes can I make in public, that will live as long as the particular blog is around, and live through. Sort of therapy. So, that’s what I do when I fear what should be my greatest strength.

  2. Well. I have a couple of projects that want to be single title length and want to be first person, much as I’ve tried to convince them otherwise. Tell you what. I’ll do it if you do it. One page at a time. How hard can it be? *insert hysterical laughter*

  3. Doh, forgot to add, CONGRATULATIONS!!! You mailed the Blaze off! Celebrate!

  4. YAY! The Blaze is off!! As for first person ST. My first Berkley Heat is just such a book. I enjoyfirst person, but let me say, writingthe whole ST in it, was hard. I’m not sure I’d do it again. Maybe I’ll feel better about it if/when my editor reads it, if she likes it. But, it was hard, and scary, even though I often write in Frist person.

  5. I hear you on the first person thing. For the longest time, I wouldn’t even touch first person books, much less write one.

    But I’m writing first person–revolving with third–for my first book. Something about writing in first person seems to provide me cleaner copy–craft-wise, not plot-wise.

    It is, at least for me, harder to get into the right mindframe to write when it comes to first person.

  6. Jordan – Woot!! The Blaze is on it’s way! 🙂 I share your fear of writing in 1st person and word count past 90K. But recently I faced another of my writing fears. I decided to write a 12K word erotic romance for a contest and I had no idea how I was going to cram a full plot into 12 thousand words. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve read dozens and dozens of 12K stories that contained a full plot and steamy sensual scenes – but I just didn’t know if I could pull it off. So, the first week of the year, still suffering from the flu and a sinus infection I sat down and wrote 12K words in a week and then I did something even scarier – I sent it to my critique partners. EEK! But much to my surprise, I got really good feedback. So…I sent it off to the contest and I’m crossing my fingers. But due to this small burst of success I’m much more willing to write more of these smaller ones in the future in between my larger ones.

  7. Thanks for sharing, Eve. That’s interesting that you use your blog to combat your fears. Good idea. I’m not sure if I do the flight then fight thing, but I definitely have that whole panic thing down to an art form. 😉

  8. Charlene, Thanks! I’m happy it’s gone. I hear you on the manuscripts. I have two that absolutely insist on 1st person. Three others are demanding first and third, but I don’t consider that daunting. Maybe we should double dog dare each other. (I can hear the hysterical laughter now.)

  9. Thanks Sasha! You know I think that’s the main difference here. I’ve never written in first person. I’m completely out of my element with it. Of course, now that you said it was so “easy” to do, I feel like plunging right in and tackling that book…NOT!!! LOL!

  10. May, Like I said to Charlene, I also have several projects that are first and third. I don’t have a problem getting into the mind frame of first person, but I do find it difficult to keep it.

  11. Thank Tina! And woo hoo on tackling your fear, even if you had to be sick to do it. 😉 That’s definitely a huge accomplishment that you should be proud of. Perhaps, I should start with smaller projects. I do have what I hoped to be a novella length first person story. Hmm…a light bulb forms above the head.

  12. Congrats on getting the ms off!

    I feel ya on the first person thing. The most I’ve tried with it is a short story.

    But it’s ok to be afraid–just try it anyway. You don’t have to finish it if you don’t like it, or shop it around, sell it, or even show it to anybody unless you want to. But if you don’t give it a shot, you’ll probably always wonder…

  13. Congrats on sending off your Blaze, Jordan! Woohoo!! Celebrate!

    As for writing in first person, I find it hard to do because I enjoy writing in the hero’s POV so much that I’d miss that aspect if I wrote a “true” single POV story. The length doesn’t usually bother me as long as I can come up with other subplots or external conflicts that would flow well with the main storyline.

  14. Congrats on getting the Blaze off!!!! You know, I bet your personality and writing voice really come out in first person. I think you should go for it. As far as not breaking a sweat with a 100K novel, are you kidding? OMG is it so NOT an easy thing to do. Blood and tears. LOL

  15. Thanks Raine! I think I worry about how much time it’ll take out of my normal writing schedule. In the six months or so it would take me to finish a first person book, I can get a whole lot done writing third. Of course, that might just be a whopper excuse. *g* 😛

  16. Patrice, Thanks! In the particular project I’m talking about there isn’t much of a romance. I’m not even sure this book will be the end of the story. Several of the books I’ve been coming up with lately have only touches of romance. I’m going to probably write them under another name.

  17. Chey, Thanks! You were actually the first person to say that about my writing. You told me way back when that you thought my first person was really strong and that I should be writing ‘chicklit’. *ggg* 😉 I hear you on the blood and tears. I definitely have to open a vein to reach 100K.

  18. Congratulations, Jordan, on getting the Blaze sent off.

    Good luck with the challenge of writing in first person. I bet you’ll do great, once you sit down and do it. 🙂

  19. Congrats on sending out your Blaze manuscript, Jordan! I enjoy writing in 1st as well as 3rd person. I also enjoy reading both, but have winced at some really poorly executed 1st person chick lits (what were those writers and their editors thinking??). When I first began writing, all of my work was single-title length, so it was hard for me to write shorter books because I can be amazingly verbose. LOL But now, after working in shorter lengths, I think I’d probably find it a bit daunting to go back to 100K+ work. That’s a mighty big sagging middle problem! BTW, Jordan, I have all the results from my pseudonym blog and character name blog compiled and posted, and you’re profiled there along with the other participants. Feel free to add more info in the comments section if you like and I’ll be happy to add it to your profile. This was such fun, but now I’m way behind on my blog commenting (not to mention my writing). 😉

  20. Thanks Linda! That is definitely the key. 😉

  21. Daisy, Thanks! You verbose? Say it isn’t so. 😉 *ggg* Thank you for featuring me on your blog. I think it’s great they you’re such a versatile writer. You’d think for as talkative as I am most of the time that I’d be able to write on and on forever. LOL! I’m sure it wouldn’t take much for you to get back into the swing of ST length, especially if that’s where you started out.

  22. Good luck with the Blaze! I don’t think I’ve run into my greatest fear or my greatest strength yet. But it sounds like you need to sit down and plow. 🙂

  23. Thanks Amy! I suppose it’s a good thing I grew up on a farm. 😉

    I’m the kind that can’t write less than 400. I blame too much Robert Ludlum in my formative years.
    The worst fear I had, write a short story. I’d done them as a kid, but as an adult, I seemed to make everything Byzantine.
    To get over the hump, I had to first recognize the fear, then ask myself: what’s really beneath that fear? I realized I was behind the fear, artifically limiting myself. To break through, I tried my hand at a short. 10K and no more. Hands down it was the hardest thing I’d ever had to create. I sweat blood over it. I did get great feedback, though, so it did the trick. I showed myself I had the stones, and the readers backed up that belief, so the fear was conquered.

    Of course, it took me five years to write another one. So maybe there are a few lingering doubts…heh.

  25. Chris, Thank you! It’s funny, you’d think that because I read ST’s growing up that it would have left some kind of lasting impression on me, but it didn’t. *ggg* I think it’s terrific that you tackled your fears head on and came out on top, even if it left you a little gun shy. 😉

  26. I think we resist our own writing strengths (particularly with voice) because we subconsciously want to be another writer: the ideal writer of our fantasies, a clone of a famous writer we admire, or one who does things the way [insert name of popular industry group] does.
    I would not touch writing historical fiction because I was such a huge fan of HF in my younger days. Also, I was told it wasn’t my voice by an HF writer who critiqued my work (later found out the writing was fine and she had other reasons for discouraging me.) Years later, when I was offered an WFH job penning historical fiction, I nearly turned it down because I still didn’t think I was up to the task.
    I wanted to try out for the job, though, so I auditioned, got the contract, and jumped into it without thinking about if I could or couldn’t anymore. Three books later, I’m voluntarily pitching what five years ago I wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot synopsis pole.
    If you don’t want to go for a full-length novel, why not writing some short stories in first person? Let them be just for fun, Jordan.

  27. PBW, What an interesting theory of why we resist our writing strength. I never thought about it in those terms, but I can see that as a definite possibility. Hell, I can even look at my early EC writing and tell you who I was trying to be. Cringe. I do have ‘one’ short story idea that is in first person. You’re probably right. I should start there. Thanks…as always…for the guidance.

  28. Congratulations on getting the Blaze out Jordan!! I have everything crossed. I’m sure they are going to love it!!

  29. Thanks Cathryn!!! I think they’ll like it, but I’m not sure they’ll know what to do with it. LOL!