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Cate’s Split Personality Writing Persona

When I first began writing to get published I wrote in third person, past tense because that's the way you were meant to write. Except I discovered that when I did that I wrote from the omniscient (storyteller) POV whereas romance should be in a single character's deep POV. It was a huge struggle for me to be able to do this (write in deep POV).

Then I realised that when I wrote for me, for my own njoyment, I wrote in first person. And I was most comfortable doing that in the present tense. I worked with that and (eventually) I 'got' deep first person and I was happier with my writing.

But I’m sensitive to comments made about those who don't follow the norm of third person, past tense. There are many who vehemently claim they hate first person narratives and present tense. Can you imagine how bad I feel when I write both?

Currently I have to write a story for a project in what I call a ‘normal writer's way’ —using third person and past tense. I'm struggling to be excited by my writing and I'm struggling to understand why. But I have a few ideas, one of them being that I think maybe my brain functions somewhat differently to most people’s.

When I write I first person, I am inside the character. I hear them speak and think in my head. I see what they see. I feel what they feel. I am them.

When I write in third person, I'm looking at the characters. I can see them all. I hear what they all say. I see what they all do. But I'm not in any of them, and I'm not privy to their thoughts.

I've written a fair few stories in third person, so it's not that I lack practice, it's that my mind works differently depending on how I write. And I know that sounds insane but I don't know how else to explain it.

When I complained to a friend about my struggles in third, she read it. 'It's not so bad,' she said. 'But it's not really you. There's no introspection and you usually have heaps.' That was when I realised I was looking and not being inside.

I tried to get inside, but it wasn't easy. I wrote a few sentences of thoughts. Compare that to the pages of introspection I can write in first person!

Which makes me often hear that too much introspection is dull in a book, that you should leave it out, mix it up with action and dialogue. But maybe there are some of us who like the deep thoughts, the jumbled questions a mind throws at you. Maybe that's why some readers prefer first person (me) and some writers do too (me).

I don't know that I understand how my brain can think differently for essentially the same task (writing fiction) but it seems to so.

So far, I have no answers to my dilemma. Have you got any for me?

Cate (of the wacky mind)