In those moments when I need to take a short break from my YA alternate history, THE BARD’S GIFT, I’ve started reading through another one of my projects, MAGE STORM.
MAGE STORM is a middle grade fantasy. It’s also a boy adventure story, something that I see several agents/editors saying that they want. I queried it last year to some interest but no offers. Now, I’ve given it a couple of months to cool off and I’m taking a fresh look at it. I’ve already identified one place where I think I could do a bit better and I’m halfway through a new scene to do that.
But, one of the things I’m considering is whether or not to rewrite the whole thing in first-person. It’s currently close limited third person. Everything in the story is filtered through the main characters perceptions already.
Still, changing it to first person would be a rewrite. Done right, in my opinion, it can’t just be changing the pronouns and the conjugations of the verbs. It’s a lot more involved than that–or it should be. First person point of view invites the reader to live inside that character’s skin. It’s a lot more intimate than even close limited third person.
I’ve written first person before, but only in a couple of novelettes. (Shameles plug: “Heart of Oak”, which is currently free on Smashwords and all the places Smashwords distributed it to, is one of those.) In both cases, it was because I “heard” the story in my own head that way. I’ve never written first person just because it’s the popular thing right now.
Just a quick survey of recent novels in both young adult and middle grade makes it impossible to deny that first person is strongly in favor right now. Is that reason to rewrite this in first person? I haven’t decided yet. After all, I really do want to see this published.
So far, I still “hear” this story in third person, although I could easily see it done in first person. Nearly all of the character’s emotions are already there, and quite a few of his thoughts. While there are a number of action/fight scenes in which, eventually, he comes out as the hero, he’s nearly always frightened enough during the action that he wouldn’t come off as bragging. That can be one of the downfalls of first person.
Another consideration, though, is that this story can be the first in a series. I already know, in a general way, what the next two books in this series would be about. I think I need to consider whether first person would also serve those stories as well as third person.
So, for this pass, I’m just going to concentrate on the sorts of things I’m working on now. When I get through this read-through/revision, I’ll make a decision on whether to make the change or not.
Now, I’m going to get back to work on that improved scene.