Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Your Story Dictates The Style You Write It

I recently had an author ask me about writing in 1st or 3rd person. The concern this writer had is that her story was in 1st person and she was worried that would be a deal breaker. The answer, like any other answer is publishing is, it all depends. In this case, the determining factor is the story itself.

When we write a story, we decide on the genre first and then decide on the plot of the story. From that the approach we take with the story develops. That story tells us as authors whether we want to write it from a single person's point of view, alternating points of view or in third person. The story dictates whether we use flashbacks, prologues, epilogues and so forth. The story tells us whether we want to use letters, emails or journals as chapters.

It is not the reverse.

Now, in answer to this author's question, when she asked if it was a deal breaker, the answer would be one of two responses:
  1. Yes, if you are using a format that is not suitable to that story.
  2. No, if you are using a formant that IS suitable for that story.
I should also note that there are a lot of myths floating around out there in the publishing world that certain genres are always written one way. For example, we see a lot of New Adult novels written in that format. Does it mean an author cannot write a New Adult in third person? Absolutely not. If the story is better told in that format, then the author should write it that way.

I want to add another note here, and this deals with the research you do when sending projects to editors and agents. Some editors and agents favor one voice over the other. If you are sending it to someone who has said in the past that first person is not their favorite format, then you have an uphill battle. Does it mean that the person will not like the story. No. It simply means the author has to be more convincing. 

Hope that helps!

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