Writing in the first person poses an interesting challenge: how do you keep your story interesting when your main character (MC) has to be present in every scene? Yeah, I know there are ways around it – I found one – but in general they have to be in every scene to make it impactful.
More, how do you make something that happens when she’s not present seem immediate and important when she’s only hearing about it after the fact, or second-hand via the news, etc.?
That’s a question that’s been sitting in the back of my mind for awhile. So far it hasn’t been a real problem, but to give more depth to my story, I’ve been wanting to follow a certain subplot. When I do though, my MC can’t be present every time something happens; it just won’t work for the story. So how can those scenes still spark if she’s learning about them from a distance?
Then yesterday happened.
Now before I go on and sound like I’m only using yesterday’s tragedy for my writing, know that my heart broke when I heard what happened and I forced myself to watch survivor interviews and news coverage. I felt that by doing so, I was in some small way paying tribute to those who survived and those who didn’t.
Know also that most writers absorb everything they experience, learn about, or feel. Sometimes we deliberately use that – I can give my MC the experiences of feeling lonely, for example, because I’ve felt lonely sometimes – but sometimes it just becomes a part of us and may or may not become a part of our writing.
I don’t live in Colorado and I don’t know anyone who knows anyone who was involved, and yet yesterday’s events affected me and made me feel true sorrow for people I’ve never met.
And because I’m a writer with ADHD, I started thinking about my novel and sort of answered the question, How will my MC be seriously affected by an event she doesn’t actually witness?
Answer: by being human. By being human, she will experience grief at the lives lost and won’t need to have been present at the event to feel sorrow.
So when I write this subplot out, I will remember yesterday and I’ll feed what I, a distant observer, felt into my MC as she hears what happens and struggles with it and with her feelings.
My heart goes out to the survivors and family and friends of the victims. May you find peace after this terror.