Fear of the New – Busted!
You haven’t heard from me in a while, and if you’re a writer you’ll understand why.
I’ve been in the writing cave.
It wasn’t easy stepping inside, though. I stood at the entrance feeling nervous. It’s been four years since I’ve written a novel.
Not that I haven’t been busy: I’ve been happily mentoring writers around the world with my online master classes, my book for writers “Page-Turner,” and my video course “Your Path to Writing a Page-Turner” (a Udemy bestseller, I’m pleased to say).
And it’s not as though I wasn’t excited by the story I was cooking up for this new book. I loved it. Still do.
No, it was sheer nerves about making a purely technical – but hugely important – choice: the POV (point-of-view).
I’d written my ten previous books – historical novels and thrillers – in third person POV, revealing the thoughts and feelings of many characters. That always felt natural to me. But this new book, a murder mystery, cried out for first person POV: the thoughts and feelings of just one character.
Yikes. In my whole career as a novelist I’d never done that. The alien place looked threatening, full of scary shadows. Could I survive “alone”? Or would the story inside me wither and die.
I procrastinated (my husband charitably calls it “creative procrastination”) by taking months to read stacks of mysteries written in first person, studying “voice’’ and, especially, plot development when the reader’s knowledge of events is restricted to just what the narrator knows.
But procrastination, however creative, must finally end. I had to get past my fear, force myself to take the first step into the writing cave.
And the moment I did? Poof! the fear vanished. Writing in first person is easy. It’s fun. What a revelation. Spending hours inside the head and heart of my main character is like spending time with a new friend I really want to get to know.
Perhaps you’re standing at the entrance to your own writing cave, contemplating writing in a different style or genre, or tackling your very first novel, but felt too nervous to enter.
My advice? Take that first step. What seems, outside, to be frighteningly alien might turn out to be a warm and welcoming place.
All my best,
P.S. This new novel features a young woman who’s an animal rights activist. The working title is “By Fire and Ice.” I’m half-way into the first draft, and I’ll keep you posted about its progress. Wish me luck!