Five Year Writing Goal
I’m taking part in Misha and Beth’s Five Year Project and my five-year goal is to write a novel and get it published.
In this monthly recap I will outline how I’m struggling with point of view and with tone. And then I will tell you of my plan for a way forward.
Tone of voice in The Reluctant Scribe
When I set out writing my novel, I tried to immerse myself in the world of a the Tang Dynasty and to see, hear and feel the story through the eyes of my 12-year-old protagonist. Perhaps I was too successful? The language and tone seemed too childish. Should I rewrite the whole thing from a different POV? Or, can I stick with the first person POV but choose a more reflective tone and thus make the language more ‘adult’?
Restrictive 1st person point of view
I chose the first person POV carefully and for a number of reasons.
- Firstly, for maximum immersion into the alien world of 7th Century China.
- Secondly, to prevent my annoyingly intrusive author-voice from getting in the way.
- Thirdly, to force myself to limit exposition and, therefore, to focus on showing, rather than telling.
So, after careful consideration of the pros and cons, I decided not to change the point of view.
I guess one of the downsides of writing through the eyes of a 12-year-old, is the restricted language that a child uses. My tutor suggested that I could solve this by put some distance between the first person narrator and the action. In other words, make it clear the story is being told by an older person looking back.
This sounded promising, and I set about redrafting my first few chapters using a more mature perspective.
“But he wouldn’t use that word,” they said.
It seems that I could not get myself, nor my readers, out of the head of my 12-year-old boy.
A new genre for The Reluctant Scribe
But then my tutor said something interesting. He suggested I reconsider my readership. And he suggested my opening chapters had the tone and language of a children’s book.
At first I was dismayed. I had not set out to write a children’s book. But then I thought about it some more and I decided this was a possible way forward, and one that allowed me to keep true to my original vision and concept of the novel.
But was the subject matter too dark? Were the events that happen later in the book too adult in nature? I went away and read several historical children’s books. They had scenes of gruesome murders, forced marriage, rape and watching your mother being burnt alive at the stake.
My story seems tame in comparison!
1. Children are discerning readers.
2. Children’s books sell.
3. 55% of the readership of ‘children’s fiction’ are adults.
So, problem solved. I am writing a children’s book. Now all I have to do is work my way through to the end of my third edit.
Thank you to Alko for the cartoon of the reading boy.