Monday, September 17, 2012

Fear & Connection

It's been a while since I wrote a post about writing...

I think the mental exhaustion of so many deaths/funerals is finally lifting a little off my mind.

I had a bit of an epiphany on the drive down to Seattle. Not one of those glorious, "Oh my goodness I understand completely how the physics of the universe works!" kind of thing... no, this was more of a Homer Simpson slap-in-the-forehead "Doh!" moment.

One of the kicking-off-points would be this post on whether the genre you're writing fits you.

Due to all the good feedback I received from agents when I sent out the 10 queries for Simon's Oath last November, I've been thinking hard about why I write the way I do, and why SO wasn't "enough".

And after reading that post on genre, a few things clicked together while on the long, 7-hour trip from Victoria to Seattle. The main being, I've always been scared of first person 'cause I don't want to connect too deeply, which is part of that whole emotional intelligence thing.

So the slap-the-forehead-Doh-moment was the realization that, if I'm afraid to connect deeply with my own characters, then obviously that will come through in the writing, and readers won't be able to connect deeply with my characters.

Yeah, it was a "Doh!" moment indeed.

Now, the funny thing is that I never used to write YA. I started my Project #1 (the one nearly permanently shelved) as a gift for someone else, specifically to write something that person would love. For example, there are a ton on horse/riding references/influences because that person loved (and still loves) riding. The school uniform was based on the traditional riding costume, one character's name is "Roan" (a term for a specific horse colouring), and many other things like that.

I was writing for someone else.

Before that, I used to only write short stories that were dark, twisted, and mired down. Writing was a way to get the bad stuff out of my head so the rest of the time, I could be upbeat and optimistic. Kind of like a literary-cleanse to re-set my brain/emotions ;) Even when I was a young teen, I wrote stories meant for adults with adult characters.

"Brake Fluid", although still a YA story, is certainly way closer to those short stories than to the first YA story I wrote. Unlike SO, I did let myself connect to the nameless/genderless MC.* While I didn't mind connecting with Hector (one of the reasons I started Project #3, to explore another innocent character), Simon was someone I wanted to stay far away from 'cause he just spirals down through the story and I didn't want to be there when he hit rock-bottom and didn't bounce.

While it's out with readers/CP's right now, I'm left wondering if my connecting to the character will make the reader connect more to the character.

Maybe, because I'm afraid to write in first person 'cause I know I'll connect deeply, this is a sign that I should be writing in first person.

Maybe this is a perfect time to feel the fear and do it anyways.

How about you guys? Have you analyzed how/why you write the way you do? Have you always stuck to a similar style/genre of stories? Have there been things you've held off from writing about?

And have you ever had one of those slap-to-the-forehead-Doh-moments that completely changes your perspective on writing?

* Just to be clear, I'm not saying that I'm nameless (well, kindof, at least online) or genderless (female=yes), or that I have been involved in twisted bets where someone ended up dead.


  1. i think trying out first person will make you a stronger writer, like a form or author exercise. And if it doesn't work, well at least you tried and you know it's not for you. I love that it was 'doh!' epiphany, I have many of those.

    1. Yup, first person scares the heck outta me, but it's probably a good thing.

      Heh, there's nothing like seeing a blonde smack themselves in the forehead...

      ...bring on the dumb-blonde-jokes!

  2. Great post. I just came across your blog and admire that you have the courage the write "dark" things. My mind often ventures there but I don't know how to put it on paper. As far as point of view, I usually write first person and actually shy away from other forms, so our hindrances are almost opposites! :) Best of luck with your writing and I'm looking forward to following your journey!

    1. I think it's good to try out new things... I figure, you never know if you're going to like something until you try it a few times... so why let fear hold you back?

      I'm in awe of people who write first person POV well :)

  3. I don't think I've done an actual analysis of the why behind what I write. I did do a blog post about the sensitive topics touched upon in the novel I'm self-publishing, but that's probably the closest I've come. Since I've written in both first person and third person POV, I can't say I have a preference.

    1. I'm just waaaaaaay over-analytical. I'm not happy unless I'm taking something apart and putting it back together again...

      Whether or not you have a preference, do you find one feel easier/more natural than the other?

  4. So cool when those "doh" moments hit. Kinda scary too. I realized with my first set of novels they weren't just "dark" they were downright depressing. It was really hard to add some happiness here and there - guess that was more my personality than the characters.

    I think being able to connect deeply with your characters when you write them will allow for growth, and depth. It will show through, and readers will connect too. Writer passion always reflects in the creation itself.

    Good luck finishing your projects with your new insights.


    1. Heh, I'm just scared that I've left a little too much of myself on the pages...

      Humour is so hard to do... I really wish I was better at it :)

  5. You are correct. First person is more intimate, more of a connection. That is a good thing. I started my main stories in first but now doing third, not sure why. I am very connected with my characters but do worry it won’t come across. I am the opposite of you. You write dark so you can feel optomistic I write optimistic to counter my dark side. I ran into personal problems so haven’t read Brake in a while. If the author is not connected to the characters, it’s a guarantee the readers won’t either. I leave all writing analysis for you to ask the right questions, which you always do. I don’t think about it. I just do it. My main “duh” moment was to write what I enjoy and the hell with everyone else


Type me out a line of Shakespeare or a line of nonsense. Dumb-blonde-jokes & Irish jokes will make me laugh myself silly :)