So I thought I could do with a new challenge, so I’ve decided to write a novel. I’ve written one before (even though it was many years ago, long story what happened to it, move along now), but I figured it would be like riding a bike in that “you never forget” and all that.
It so isn’t.
Do you know how long the average spec is? I’m not talking page count. That’s 90 – 100 pages if you’re sensible, any more makes script readers want to stab themselves in the leg with a fork (honestly). That extra twenty or so pages really *can* be the difference between a PASS and a CONSIDER on that report, if only on the basis of the fact that reader *could* have had an extra espresso and a doughnut (and walked to the local cafe for both) IF the writer hadn’t written an extra twenty pages. Okay I’m exaggerating. A little.
No, the average spec is approximately 18-30,000 words maximum: that’s everything – scene description, dialogue, the works. Note these are screenplays without black on the page. The irony is, I find the “better” writer you are (as a screenwriter, in any case), the LESS you write. (The only reason I know this by the way is because I am an anorak who keeps lists and runs word counts on my fave scripts. Oh, I also play a new game these days now I have a laptop: I call it WRITE THE SCRIPT REPORT BEFORE YOUR BATTERY DIES, but that’s just a working title, feel free to suggest a new one.)
So getting into this novel writing thing is proving strange. I’ve spent the last few years trying to figure how to strip stuff OUT, not put stuff in (oo er). Writing in the past tense seems alien and focusing on other characters’ ins and outs (double oo er) and not just the protagonist’s arc seems even weirder.
I find I’ve become hung up on the third person, the “s/he”. This does not normally concern me; I write scripts in the third person (and the present tense), so perhaps it would help me if I thought about this story from the first person – the “I” of the story? Maybe if I were to look through one character’s POV, tell it how he or she sees it, then I would feel more comfortable? It would fool my resisting brain into believing I was writing say a treatment instead of an actual novel?
I’m reliably informed that most of the top ten adult crime novels at Tesco this week are written in the first person (thanks Mum). My son says all the novels he’s read recently have been in the third person however. My novel is *supposed* to be for the so-called tween audience – that’s apparently 8-12s, your classic Harry Potter/Lord Loss/Eragon/Stormrider readers, like my boy.
What do you reckon?
Should I go with the flow and battle on with the third person and hope I get into it, or go with the first person which I *feel* I could get on with better?
Any thoughts appreciated…