A friend of mine suggested The Secret of the Pink Carnation as a good read. Getting a little topped out on Y/A literature, I checked it out. It’s a good read, but I’m not a chick lit kind of girl usually, which is what this is (I thought it was a mystery), especially when it gets explicit. Not into reading about other people’s relations, you know? However, I’m glad she suggested this book to me, because it had the format I had originally thought I wanted to use in my book. First person for present day, third person for the past. I had never read a book with that format before, and thought I’d love it. I was wrong.
Instead, I found myself gritting my teeth every time the author brought me back to the present. How annoying – I wanted to go on with the REAL story – in the past! Although I understood why she did it (and I must say she did it well), the point was I didn’t care about the present day story at all – I wanted the other one where the “mystery” was. That was the whole reason why I picked up her book in the first place.
That got me thinking about the reactions to my first two chapters at the writing conference. There were those that were enthralled with the prologue, written in third person for the past, and others that were relieved when it was over so they could get on with the present day story – written in first. I now recognize it all had to do with which story they were interested in. I appreciate Dave even more telling me to quit the first person and use only third – not because he liked my style better that way, but simply because we can’t get to know Inger in the past when we’re in first person with Joe. Make sense?
Obviously the author of The Secret of the Pink Carnation doesn’t have that issue – she found a publisher who would print her piece anyway (I sure hope it doesn’t sound like I’m critiquing her work, because I’m not – I’m just learning from my own observations). But as for me, I see now the wisdom that my mentor had inferred upon my work:
Pick a story!