First Person Limitations…

So I have to write (want to?) a Nano. On the recommendations of a friend, I should title it something that does not remind her of “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.” I can sympathize, although I don\’t find that anything reminds me of “Diary of a Mad Black Woman.”

I originally had an idea for a slightly different novel, where a supervillain and his superheroic adversary are anonymous penpals, writing about the same events from slightly skewed perspectives, perhaps interwoven with third-person versions of the same events — just to utterly confuse my audience, and to increase my word count.

NOTE TO FELLOW NANOERS. This is a good idea. It might still be worth pursuing to increase your word count. Just remember to credit me. 🙂

I\’ve since revised my idea some. It\’s partially the fault of the two Robert\’s The Illuminatus! Trilogy. It’s partially the fault of the Evil Overlord List, which I pointed to several other Hydrophobic Ducks last year. It\’s partially just me being bored (Before you underestimate the impact of my boredom, please recall that five years of vegetarianism resulted from my being bored in college. Being bored similarly led me to pick up NaNoWriMo last year, which led in turn to meeting Mandrina. It works for me.).

I’ve more or less decided on “Diary of an Evil Genius” (renamed, of course), but I’m still choking on the format. I had the idea of doing the entire Nano in the format of diary entries. Yes, you’d know that the writer had to survive to the end of the day, but that’s acceptable — he’s an evil genius, he better survive to the end of the day! Even if he’s in jail.

I just can’t seem to surmount the lack of immediacy that such an approach necessitates. In third person, or even some forms of first person narration, the reader is placed in the action at the same time as the actor. A journalled (heck, blogged!) novella removes the audience from the action, and it just seems a bit too… Bah. Like I know. I guess I’m slowly realizing that a journalled first person narration is best suited for something other than an action-centric story. More SimCity than Black and White.

A framed story can still be first person, but certainly comes across as being more immediate than a journal entry. I still like the idea of journal entries, but perhaps they’ll just be inserted into the middle of the novel.

Of course, once I drop the Journal aspect, it’s no longer a Diary, so certain people will no longer be able to complain about the title overmuch. I’ll have to come up with something far longer in order to get my word count up.

I could certainly constrain the third-person narration to the equivalent of a third-person camera in MechAssault. ’cause, of course, I’m now going to start making comparisons to camera modes in video games. Although… that isn’t an entirely invalid comparison.

You have your FPS: you see everything as it happens but only see those things right in front of you.
You have your Third-Person Chase Cam, a la Prince of Persia: the Sands of Time or Conker’s Bad Fur Day or MechAssault: You can mostly see what’s right in front of you — with much the same immediacy, although not quite the focus, of the FPS cam. However, you also have some slight knowledge of what’s going on around you — a trade-off where “I” becomes “him” (or “her,” for that matter).
You have your God-Cam, a la SimCity or The Sims or Populous: Everything is abstracted; the narrator is entirely detached and can go flit from place to place with abandon — but a far lesser attachment to any given group.

Great, so now I have to decide what kind of video game my book should have…

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