So you’ve written a book, and you’re no amateur; you know the best writers get other eyes on their work, that art is not created in a vacuum. You’ve enlisted the help of beta readers, maybe friends or people in your writing circle, who will give you that valuable feedback you need. But when you finally get your work back, their comments leave you scratching your head.
What do they mean when they say the narrative would work better in third person instead of first?
Working as a sensitivity reader or a beta reader for a writer friend is one of the greatest joys of being part of the writing community. You get to read a new story before anyone else and you have the privilege of helping your writer friend turn their just-pulled-from-the-cave-wall stone into a highly polished, beautifully cut, sparkling diamond.
At this point you should have your story's mold and sand to fill it. Now you are ready to create your narrative lens, and the way you shape it provides more than just a point of view. You can use voice to convey many things in a story. For example, it's an especially good way to impart vital information, helping you avoid the dreaded infodump.
This is the second part of our discussion on narrative vocabulary and tone. To get the full context, start here: Narrative Voice: Vocabulary Choice and Tone (Part One) Part One focuses on vocabulary choice and ways to shed light on your characters' inner thoughts and world view through the language they use.
If your characters are the lens through which the reader experiences your story, and you the writer are the glassmaker, then vocabulary makes up the grains of sand which create the glass. Likewise, tone is the mold into which you pour your hot glass to set the lens.
Now that you’ve decided who is going to be telling your reader your story, let’s take a closer look at the technical aspects of how that story is going to be conveyed, and what the impacts of these technical choices may be on a reader’s experience.
Stories are organized around a sequence of events that contain plot drivers that influence what happens in that section. Throughout time, storytellers have drawn upon common story structures that have evolved within their culture.
Once all the hard work of completing the very first draft of your novel is complete (yay!), and you’ve had the time to give it a look-over and fix all the spelling errors, typos, and other general first-draft inconsistencies and issues, the next thing you’ll likely want to do before you send the book off to editors/agents/publishers is to have a fresh pair of eyes look over the book and give you feedback.