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Akeyla
February 17th, 2007, 11:38 PM
Someone mentioned that they would like to see some writing exercises on here for us all to work and try out. So I thought I'd start with this one.

Please post your original piece and then the changed piece after it. Try to keep the word count for each piece under 500 words. And remember to have fun.


How To Start Writing in the Third Person

Though it's easy to fall into the habit of always writing in the first person, it's important to to also be able to write in the third person as well. Both first person and third person have their strengths and weaknesses; what works for one story may not work for another. This exercise is designed to help you observe the effect of writing in the third person point of view, to add this tool to your toolbox.

Difficulty: Average

Time Required: 1 hour

Here's How:

1. Choose a particularly compelling scene from a piece of prose you have recently written in the first person.
2. Rewrite the piece from the third person. Take your time. It may require some strategizing to pull off the transformation. You'll also have to consider whether or not you want to use third person omniscient or limited. In moving from first to third, it might be easiest to try third person limited first.
3. Notice how the change in point of view changes the voice and the mood of the story. What freedom do you have with this narrator that you did not have before?
4. Make a list of three or four advantages of the new point of view: ways the new voice helps develop plot and/or character.
5. Make a list of the limitations of the third person with regard to this particular piece. Is it the most effective way of telling this story? Were there ways in which it was harder to develop your central character with third person? Did it force you to use other techniques in revealing your character?
6. If the new point of view works well with this scene, consider changing the point of view for the entire piece. Otherwise, return to your original.

Tips:

1. Even if changing to the third person point of view has not improved this particular piece, remain open to it in future work. Use the lessons learned in this exercise to evaluate point of view in all the fiction your write.
2. Lorrie Moore has a good explanation for how she chooses POV: "There are times when the first person is necessary for observing others (not the protagonist) in a voice that simultaneously creates a character (usually the protagonist then there are times when the third person is necessary for observing the protagonist in a voice that is not the character’s but the story’s.)

What You Need:

• Scene from a recent story or novel.
• Computer or paper and pen.
• Quiet place to work.

argento_occhi
February 19th, 2007, 02:18 AM
Alright. I had a go. I'm not sure this scene is particularly compelling, but I haven't written much first person lately, let alone PG-13 first person, so I wasn't exactly spoilt for choice.

Taken from this fic here. (http://wolfanfics.livejournal.com/23691.html) Written from Chris' POV. I started at this point because there's a dream sequence before it that would be even harder to put into third.


I wake then, and the sharp pain stabs into my mind. It takes a few minutes for the fog of sleep to clear my head and I prop myself up on my arms, looking down to see what look like leather cuffs of some sort on my wrists. I try to see over my shoulder, trying to see if the mark from my dream is actually there, but can’t manage it, and I’m forced to get up. I find the mirror in the bathroom and peer over my shoulder again, this time seeing the biting red welts striping across my back. I almost want to touch them, to make sure they’re real, but I shy away as the pain flares up.

“Chris! Your Master calls you!” comes Andrew’s voice from down the hall.

I have no choice but to obey, fearing more pain, and truth be told, I would run to him at his calling, no matter what. My heart can’t disobey him. I find him in the kitchen. He seems to be preparing something. I kneel on the floor, just outside the kitchen, waiting for him to address me.

“Good. You obey quickly. I like that. Here, drink this,” Andrew says, handing me a small bowl filled with something I can’t identify.

“Sir?” I ask as I take the bowl from him, not wanting to sound like I’m questioning his authority, I just want to know what I’m drinking. It’s sort of dark coloured and opaque, looks thick. It doesn’t really smell of anything though.

“Just drink it. It’s good for you,” he says.

The way he says it makes me think that maybe it’s poison he’s feeding me. But he wouldn’t harm me, would he? I’m not sure I want to drink it now. But I can’t disobey him, my body won’t let me disobey him, and I find the bowl being lifted to my lips before I can stop myself. I drink the contents in one go, trying not to gag at the taste. It doesn’t taste very nice. I can’t identify what it is though.

“May I have some water to drink, Master?” I say, suddenly not feeling too well at all.

“There’s a bottle of water in the fridge. You can have that,” he says.

“Thank you Master,” I say gratefully, and pull myself to my feet.

I grab the water and drink it, trying to get the foul taste out of my mouth and settle my stomach somewhat. It sort of works until there’s a stabbing pain in my guts that I really don’t like. I double over, trying to ease the pain away.

argento_occhi
February 19th, 2007, 02:57 AM
Here it is in third. I did some slight changes to make it read somewhat better than my first attempt. It's longer than the original version. I'm happier with this one. I still don't think this fic works in third, but I suppose the added information about what Andrew's doing is sort of helpful. Also, feel free to beat me about the head for the constant present tense. :P It was the dream's fault, I swear. There's a dream sequence before this part, hence the present tense.

Advantages:
1. More about Andrew
2. Um, more about Andrew? There's not much more in this version than the original apart from Andrew's actions. That's about it. Well, not unless you want me to expand this into a 1000-word epic, twice the length of the original scene. :P It's 553 words long, this version, the shortest I could manage. The original was 440.

Limitations:
1. It feels too disconnected. It's too cold.
2. It's harder to get into Chris' head, which is the point of the piece.
3. It just doesn't feel right. And this is not be snubbing third completely, it just doesn't work for this piece. That might be my fault for choosing this piece over others, but this was the most PG-13 piece I could come up with written in first. I thought it wasn't wise to use smut for this. ;)


Third Person Version:
Chris wakes, tired and groggy, squinting his eyes shut tight as stabbing pain reminds him he’s not dreaming anymore. He remains lying on his back, getting used to the idea of being awake, the remnants of his dream swirling around in his mind. He props himself up on his elbows, looking around the room he’s woken up in. He glances down at his wrists, finding leather cuffs hugging his skin. Instinct makes him look over his shoulder, trying to see if the X-shaped mark from his dream has followed him into reality. His back stings, but he can’t see for certain, forcing him to get up if he really wants to find out. The bathroom mirror serves as verification. Glancing back at his reflection, he does indeed find the large X-shaped mark across his back. Fingers hover over the wounds, not daring to touch them as the pain flares up.

How the hell did that-

“Chris! Your Master calls you!”

Andrew’s voice comes down the hall to reach Chris in his half-awake state, barging through his thoughts. Chris swallows, his hesitation brief. His fear is as strong as his loyalty. He leaves the bathroom and finds Andrew in the kitchen, preparing something. Andrew ignores his presence as he pounds the herbs in the pestle, stopping every now and then to add a dash of some clear liquid. Chris kneels just outside the kitchen, waiting to be addressed. Andrew ignores him until he’s finished with his herbs, pouring a mix of crushed herbs and water into a small bowl.

“Good. You obey quickly. I like that. Here, drink this,” Andrew says, handing the bowl to Chris.

“Sir?” Chris’s voice is fearful but trusting as he takes the bowl from his Master’s hands. He observes the liquid in the bowl with hesitation, not sure what it is. Dark, opaque and odourless, it could be anything.

I’m not sure I want to drink this.

“Just drink it. It’s good for you,” Andrew says.

Chris tries to read through Andrew’s gaze. He’s torn in his loyalty. Something about Andrew’s voice makes Chris hesitant to obey. There’s a sinister edge to Andrew’s words that Chris doesn’t like. What would it do to him, drinking this unknown liquid? As much as he’s afraid, his heart reminds him of his loyalty to his Master, reminding him of how long he’s dreamt of belonging to Andrew.

Would he? He wouldn’t poison me, would he? But I can’t disobey him. That would be the ultimate betrayal. But what if it’s poison and it kills me? Would Andrew really kill me?

Andrew watches as Chris tries to disobey. He allows himself a small grin as Chris gives in, drinking the bowl’s contents. Chris screws his face up in disgust. There’s a reason Andrew makes his slaves drink that potion rather than drink it himself.

“May I have some water to drink, Master?” Chris says, suddenly not feeling too well at all.

“There’s a bottle of water in the fridge. You can have that,” Andrew says.

“Thank you Master,” Chris says, getting to his feet.

Chris unscrews the cap on the bottle and drinks the water, trying to stop the ill feeling in his stomach. The bottle drops from his hands as he doubles over in pain, hands clutching his stomach, groaning in pain.

Akeyla
February 21st, 2007, 01:04 AM
I agree that you have written it more fluidly in first person, you tended to jump from present to past tense in the third person version, something that many people struggle with and why so many people find it harder.

A lot more was 'shown' in the 3rd and I think if you could find a way to combine the two. Describing what Chris see's, His master with the pestel and herbs, the Master's grin as he drinks, even the describtion of the mark on his back, things like that, along with what Chris is feeling in the 1st Person version, you could have a really great piece that can encompass all of what Chris is experiencing, from sight to sound, touch, taste, even smell and the ever present sixth sense as well.

I'd be interested to see if you could work it a bit more to incorporate more visuals into the First Person version.

Thanks for sharing and taking part in the exercise.

Akeyla
February 21st, 2007, 01:28 AM
I took a small excerpt from my NaNo Novel that I have yet to even think about editing and it's also not finished. It's written in Third Person mainly because I have to jump from different people from time to time.

Third Person - Original - 450 words

“You soldier, remove her sword.” The king commanded pointed towards the closest soldier to her right.

She didn’t even flinch as she went down on her knees to allow the soldier access to the sword although she did warn him.

“If you touch that sword your soul will be forfeit.”

The solider looked at her with fear clearly written across his face. He was young, maybe nineteen summers and it cause a sadness in her to know that he was about to throw his life away just to prove a point.

Everyone in the room seemed to lean forward as they watched him hesitantly and shakily reach for the sword hilt.

She gasped and inhaled sharply the moment he touched it which was nothing to the gut wrenching scream that escaped him as his soul was literally torn from his body and sucked into the sword.

It was done in such a way that the soul became visible to all who watched in the split second that it floated between the body and the sword. Before the sword seemed to glow and grow as it opened itself up to consume the innocent soul.

She could feel the swords unabated joy at receiving such a fine soul for its mass collection. She also felt the boys soul touch upon her own and ground her teeth together as it joined with the connection of so many between her and the sword.

There was mass confusion and chaos all around her but she heard none of it and didn’t even move as the arrows were raised higher and the soldiers holding them had a reason to kill her now. She felt their vengeful intent and almost envied them such a simple emotion.

The physical body of the soldier fell on the ground in front of her. His eyes were still open and he was technically still alive but his once green eyes were a sickly grey color and there was nothing behind them. She reached down with her hand and cupped his throat feeling the wasted lifeblood pulsing beneath her palm. Her other hand came down and with one quick clean movement she buried a dagger between her fingers and into his throat. Not only spilling his blood but relieving him of any feeling that he may yet have in his dying body.

There was a feeling of great tenderness and infinite love that came from her as she watched the young mans blood pool around her as his empty body breathed for the last time. She didn’t look away from his eyes once not out of pity but because the mans soul would be able to see it through her own eyes.


First Person - 663 Words

“You soldier, remove her sword.” The king commanded pointing at the closest soldier to my right.

I was infuriated that he would even attempt such a stupid stunt and force my hand but they all tried this, they all needed to see just what the sword could do. This was only the first test and only of the sword, it’s when they wanted to test my strength that I got to have some fun.

That didn’t stop me from making it easy on him; after all, I had to put on a good show for the masses. I didn’t even flinch as I went down on my knees to allow the soldier access to the sword although I did warn him. “If you touch this sword your soul will be forfeit.”

The solider looked at me with fear written across his face. He was young, maybe nineteen summers and it caused a sadness in me to know that he was about to throw his life away just to prove a point.

Everyone in the room seemed to lean forward as they watched him hesitantly and shakily reach for the sword hilt. I waited too, impatient to get it over with and hating every fiber of my body for being the instrument of his complete annihilation.

I gasped and inhaled sharply the moment he touched it which was nothing to the gut wrenching scream that escaped him as his soul was literally torn from his body and sucked into the sword. I didn’t even move and yet I felt his confusion and presence within the sword and within my connection to it.

It was done in such a way that the soul became visible to all who watched in the split second that it floated between the body and the sword. Before the sword seemed to glow and grow as it opened itself up to consume the innocent soul. I didn’t see any of this. I just knew that’s how it happens. I’d watched hundreds of souls get sucked in. It’s not something I’m ever allowed to forget.

I could feel the swords unabated joy at receiving such a fine soul for its collection. I also felt the boys soul touch upon my own and I ground my teeth together as it joined with the connection of so many between the sword and I.

There was confusion and chaos all around me but I heard none of it and didn’t even move as the arrows were raised higher and the soldiers holding them had a reason to kill me now. I felt their vengeful intent and almost envied them such a simple emotion.

The physical body of the soldier fell on the ground in front of me. His eyes were still open and he was technically still alive but his once green eyes were a sickly grey color and there was nothing behind them. I reached down with my hand and cupped his throat feeling the wasted lifeblood pulsing beneath my palm. My other hand came down and with one quick clean movement I buried a dagger between my fingers and into his throat. Not only spilling his blood but relieving him of any feeling that he may yet have in his dying body.

A few of the soldiers loosed their arrows, they feel harmless to the floor once they got about an inch from my armor. The king was yelling at everyone and I ignored it all, intent only upon the innocent man who had been sacrificed to an eternity of imprisoned servitude just to prove that I did carry the Sword of Souls.

There was a feeling of great tenderness and infinite love that came over me while I watched the young mans blood pool around me as his empty body breathed for the last time. I didn’t look away from his eyes once not out of pity but because the mans soul would be able to see it through my eyes.


Let me know what you think!:wave:

argento_occhi
February 21st, 2007, 02:28 AM
I agree that you have written it more fluidly in first person, you tended to jump from present to past tense in the third person version, something that many people struggle with and why so many people find it harder.

A lot more was 'shown' in the 3rd and I think if you could find a way to combine the two. Describing what Chris see's, His master with the pestel and herbs, the Master's grin as he drinks, even the describtion of the mark on his back, things like that, along with what Chris is feeling in the 1st Person version, you could have a really great piece that can encompass all of what Chris is experiencing, from sight to sound, touch, taste, even smell and the ever present sixth sense as well.

I'd be interested to see if you could work it a bit more to incorporate more visuals into the First Person version.

Thanks for sharing and taking part in the exercise.

I think my third person version might've been better if I'd actually taken my time with it as opposed to just making do with what I could manage in a short amount of time. But yeah, I agree. It's not my best work. I don't often write third person in present tense, which is always harder for me than in past tense, so I suppose I set myself two hurdles there.

I suppose I did focus too much on Chris in the original. It was hard to include other detail, since Chris' mindset was all 'don't notice things you're not supposed to', which didn't help. I should try and add in those extra details.

Dammit, I was going to work on another story of mine, but now you've got me thinking about making this one better. :P Hmm. I'll have a go rewriting it and see how it turns out. Would you mind looking over it when I'm done to see if it's turned out any better?

Akeyla
March 2nd, 2007, 04:59 PM
Would you mind looking over it when I'm done to see if it's turned out any better?


I wouldn't mind at all. PM me and I'll give you my email.

So this closes this exercise, by all means, feel free to try it on your own anytime, it is interesting and switching PoV's can reveal different aspects of your character as you are forced to look at him/her differently.