Adventures in the 3rd Person – The Seed and The Way

Finding a Pattern in the Chaos

In my conversation about wanting to write in the 3rd person I’ve mentioned a plot theme (I’m sure there are more technical terms for this but I have no idea what they are).

So to keep on talking about the journey and not sound all vague and elusive about the plot theme, I should at a general idea of the see of a plot. The plot theme or its worthiness aren’t the focus of this conversation but will be helpful as reference points in the journey.

The theme is in simple terms about memory and self. The point of that remains a bit fuzzy but for the moment we can think of it as pondering how much of what I remember or don’t remember impacts who I am, or who I think I am. So the exploration of that theme by an individual (and as of yet undefined) with the help of another individual (leaning towards this being a ghost (however we might end up defining ghost)).

So there is the seed. Obviously every story has a seed so that’s not a unique thing. So for me the unknown is how do you approach that when writing from the 3rd person. When I have written in the first person, the main character is telling the story and they decide what to tell. They are very subjective.  They determine the context that they share. They focus on what is important to them in the story. And if I have internalized the character well enough as a writer, I let the character decide where to go. And if I were to write about my memory and self theme in the first person I imagine a lot internal monologuing and pondering.

So if I shift to the 3rd person, I suppose I can portray the main character as pondering the theme and reveal those ponderings.  But what else can I take advantage of knowing that I can go outside the main characters head. Now I can present the world from the ghost’s perspective. I can know what the ghost is thinking. I can know what everyone is thinking or doing.

How do I proceed when I can tell anything? The chicken and the egg thing again. I can drive what to tell by the motivations of each character. So then do I need to know motivations from the start? In writing in first person, I often don’t and let the development of the 1st person narrator’s psyche reveal those as we go along. But that seems tricky if I am taking into account multiple characters. I can see that turning not gibberish really quickly.

I envision it being like a chess player who not only has to plot out his own moves but those of his opponent as well. Hmm. But I’m a terrible chess player. Might not want to down a path that is reliant on one of my main weaknesses.

So what to do? Perhaps let it become gibberish and then try to pull a thread out of that. Maybe a it’s like chaos theory in that the trick to seeing the pattern in the chaos is to find the write lens to view it. That might draw on a personal strength of seeing patterns. Much better than the chess path which just makes my head spin.

Now that would push me into the discomfort zone. Can I create a mess and then salvage something from it? I don’t know. Sounds lie a good challenge.

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