Adventures in the 3rd Person – Therapy

Time for Some Therapy

Initiating my thoughts today was the question around how much can or should I know about the main characters when writing in the third person.

When writing in the 1st person, I can have the main character know a great deal about themselves, however biased and subjective that might be. But their knowledge of the other characters in the story are based on observation or hearsay. So clearly limitations.

But if I’m writing I the 3rd person I can know as much as I want or need to know about any character, which seems like an awesome power to have. But with great power comes great responsibility. I keep thinking, where do I draw the line? What do I know or share and what don’t I.

I’ve read about techniques where you interview the characters to draw out their histories and biases and philosophies and such. Seems like a legit exercise. But I am terrible at interviewing people. When studying journalism back in college, I totally failed the reporter phase. Investigative journalism was beyond me because I don’t ask questions.

I’m not quizzical. At all. I suspect this is true because I don’t like being questioned. Being questioned about anything is awkward. So I project and think other people feel as awkward as I do when questioned. I turn into a hostile and defensive witness. This is probably a topic for therapy. Why don’t I like to be questioned? Hmm.

So falling back on one of my principles for doing creative work, which is that creative work is supposed to be enjoyable or fulfilling and doing things that go against my core being just aren’t going to fly, I think the interview technique is decidedly not going to work.

Since I write in the 1st person, I often seem to use the stream of consciousness method to bring out my characters, essentially bringing to life the often seemingly gibberish interior monologue they might engage in to explore their character.

So perhaps for the main characters, instead of an interview we have them write a stream of conscious-like journal. Sort of steal the 1st person technique to do development. Maybe that’s cheating. I don’t know. Who cares if it brings the characters to life.

Now what to do with these journals once they are done, I don’t know. I can see myself taking the journals and retelling them like a documentary, which I can imagine being terribly boring. Note to self: Don’t do that!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: