I really like reading books that are written in the first person, because it gives me a chance to get inside someone else’s head. I think it’s the most intimate sort of reading experience. So, it only makes sense for me to write in the first person as well. It’s what comes naturally for me.
The problem is, it’s limiting. One main character has to be in every scene in the book. The only way around that is to write from multiple character perspectives.
That’s what I did for Starring in the Movie of My Life. It was difficult at first, but it never occurred to me to do it any other way. The story always belonged to both Samantha and Melody. Since I love writing in first person, alternating their points of view was pretty fun. The most exciting chapters to write were the ones where the two of them were together in the same room. I loved observing Samantha through the Melody’s eyes, or vice-versa.
However, most of the chapters featured only one of them. At times it was easier for me to write for Melody, and at times Samantha’s chapters came easier. I guess I sort of went through phases. However, I always enjoyed developing both of them, trying to make them real.
I started by giving them a heroic quality. Samantha was extremely compassionate, and Melody was the ultimate survivor. I know a lot of readers found Melody to be pretty unlikeable, but in a weird way I’m protective of her. However, I guess Samantha is my favorite because she has such a big heart and potential strength. Of the major characters, I’d have to say Nathan is my least favorite. It’s not his fault, but I don’t think he grows over the course of the story the way the others do.
Anyway, the most difficult part was attention to detail; how do I make Melody and Samantha sound like two different people through word choice and response to conflict? In the end I’m not sure how good I was at it, but I haven’t gotten any complaints, so I’m hoping I did okay.
The book I’m working on now, November Surprise, is written in the first person, but there’s only one character who narrates. However, it’s told in vignettes, and takes place over the course of twenty years. So I’m trying to be cognizant of how Lucy will change over time, her maturity, her perspective, etc. Also, what will stay the same? In some ways this is more difficult than having two narrators. But I’m a writing geek, so I love the challenge.