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NaNoWriMo Day 1: Exploring Point of View

November 2, 2012 by Kiersi

National Novel Writing Month got off to a very optimistic start yesterday. I’m working on a novel tentatively titled Gryphon, a middle-grade fantasy with two alternating points of view.

I’m using a third-person limited, so while told in third person, each chapter focuses on one character and his or her thoughts.

I’ve been experimenting a little with alternating/rotating points of view, as my writer’s group knows who have been reading Codename: Gossip Tolkien. Instead of first person, which I use in GT, I chose third person for Gryphon because my heroes are young–12 and 13. Writing in third person, I am able to reveal a lot more about their personalities, motives, and feelings than I would if they were telling the story themselves, and I don’t have to worry about keeping the tone and voice “authentic” to the age of the character.

This works best for this piece because the characters interact frequently with adults, and I still want to be able to give the reader an objective understanding of the adult characters’ actions without having to interpret them in the young protagonist’s voice.

I ran into something tricky at the beginning of the second chapter, which features the point of view of my male protagonist. He does not have a name at the beginning of the novel, and it’s a real test of my abilities to make it clear who or what is being talked about in each sentence (especially when there is more than one unnamed “he”).

But, as most of you probably already know, I relish a good challenge.

Like the cool writer/blogger Ann Elise Monte, I decided to post a little excerpt of what poured out of the fingertips yesterday. At 2,500 words, not a bad first day, but not the best, either. (I had to teach a class, meet a copywriting deadline, and do some chores, too–cut me some slack.) If you are also doing NaNoWriMo, become my buddy in this great endeavor, or click here to see a synopsis of Gryphon.

The boy, though he didn’t consider himself as such, listened to his tribe’s chatter with masked interest. Humans were a blight on the land, and his mother and brother and the rest of them discussed the trespasser with thinly-veiled contempt. Humans were barely more than animals, animals that covered themselves in metal and murdered each other without qualm like cannibal ants.

But he was fascinated by the mere concept of the human girl. What she might look like; what she might smell like to him, to his inferior nose. He’d seen humans before—big hairy things, covered in glittering steel, and often later covered in glittering blood when they refused to leave his tribe’s sacred land, and insisted on finding their way, unsuccessfully, to the pass.

A girl. He looked at his hands where he sat on the ledge over the tribal den, lit orange by the sunset. They were not claws, he knew that much. Nor were his feet the same wide, furred paws as his mother or brother. He had no tail to speak of; he drank and ate with a mouth instead of a beak; nor could he tear creatures limb from limb with his teeth. The others fed him instead, and while they did it lovingly, as he was theirs and theirs alone, he had recently grown to realize what it really was:


And he was learning that he hated the pity more than anything in his simple mountain life.


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