This fall I’m attending a writing workshop (as I often do this time of year). It will run for eight weeks, Saturday morning sessions, and we’ll be covering a lot of ground, discussing both assigned reading and submitted stories. For last year’s workshop, we were required to write a story in first person; this year, we were asked to rewrite that same story in third person.
Sounds simple, but it’s been a challenging exercise, and one which I would suggest every writer should take on at least once. It’s not a matter of merely swapping out pronouns. It’s a great way to gain a greater understanding of two very different storytelling modes. And although you may already have written stories in third person and stories in first person, it’s a much stronger lesson if you write the same story in the two different ways.
In the end, I think I still like the first person version of this particular story, but I was pleased with the new version as well. I think the storytelling modes highlight different areas of the story, which is a very helpful thing for a writer to be able to recognize, especially when making those first decisions about the best way to tell your story. The main character in this story is a hired killer, so it is very interesting to reflect on how the story will come across when the reader is merely an observer, compared to when they are actually in his head.
The best thing is–it’s done and submitted, and I can cross it off my to-do list!
*photo courtesy of kevinrosseel at morguefile.com