As many of you know I recently sort of finished the first draft of a new manuscript. I thought the edits would be fun…until I stepped back and looked at it. I mean really, really looked at it.
I wanted this ms to win the grand title of being the book I deemed good enough to query. It had voice, a pretty risque and off the wall plot point, a hero worthy of swooning and a heroine that readers can get behind. And if I had to categorize it within a genre, I would have placed it smack dab on the contemporary romance shelf at my local indie. Right between erotica and women’s fiction (whatever that is).
So I sit down to edit this story that has made me literally giddy. It’s made my friends giddy. It even made my husband smile. I had readers begging me for more. That was great. But I’m looking at this ms and a painfully obvious issue jumps off the page and smacks me in the face. HARD.
Contemporary romances are not written in first person present tense.
And I panicked.
There was no other way to tell this story. It would not be the same. I already had some plot issues to fix. Goal, motivation, conflict sort of stuff. But to change the entire book to third person past?????
No. Freaking. Way.
So I researched it. Went straight to Google. I know, I know. People say you can’t trust Google but I’m one of those hungry for knowledge people and my gosh…the answer to anything is at my fingertips! So I google it.
There are a lot of first person present tense HATERS in the romance reading realm.
There are even discussion groups on Amazon and Goodreads about just how much it’s hated!
And I’m thinking, Why?? I love the immediacy of first person present!
But then again, I read everything. Even enjoyed a second person POV book once upon a time.
So there I was. Freaking out.
I read blog post after blog post that said NEVER WRITE ROMANCE IN FIRST PERSON…AGENTS DON’T WANT IT. I read comments from readers in those discussions that said IF A BOOK IS WRITTEN IN FIRST PERSON PRESENT I IMMEDIATELY PUT IT DOWN.
Yeah…that was enough to make me attempt re-writing this thing in third.
And it sucked eggs.
Not because I can’t write. But because the story was altogether different. First person present gave the hero what I wanted. A very you-never-know-what-the-heck-he’s-gonna-do feel. The heroine is always on her toes and it makes for a very fun, romantic romp between two very unlikely people. By changing the tense, those elements disappeared.
The main complaint I read however was that the readers want the hero’s POV as well. In third person of course. I went to all my romance novels on my shelf and lo and behold…they are all written that way.
I think a string of profanities that would have made Satan’s toes curl spewed from my mouth.
But I had to admit to myself that I am one of those people who have said…I wish I could read his side.
Twilight. The Fever Series. The Night Huntress. Shades of Grey. (Don’t judge me).
Meyer gave a sample of Edward’s POV and it was meh. Even Moning gave a chapter from Barrons’ POV (Fever series…MUST READ). That glimpse did exactly what I thought it would…it told me things I really didn’t want to know about Barrons. Moning said it would be so. She said readers might regret asking her to write it.
Why?? Because crafting a swoon worthy hero is sometimes like falling in love. When you fall in love, you know that person has faults but you don’t see them. Love has blinded you. Gouged your damn eyes out. Everyone else sees something different but YOU see what you need to see in order to give your heart over.
That’s what a writer has to do. Make you give up your heart to the hero just as the heroine has. And yes…I’ve loved a few heroes written in third person but say the name Edward Cullen, Jericho Barrons, Bones, or Christian Grey in a bookstore and watch women’s heads turn up like someone just yelled Fire!
I’m not saying I’ll never write in third person and I’m not saying I don’t enjoy reading books written that way. I do, I have and I will continue.
But sometimes…A story has its own life.
And it just isn’t the same if you change it.
This story came to me. That’s how it feels anyway. Charlie and Emma formed and Emma told me her story and I can’t for the life of me alter the POV without altering the intensity with which she felt the events.
So I won’t. Not until every last agent on the planet has rejected this ms, which they may very well do. I don’t know. But I owe it to myself to try.
So NOW…give me the down low. Do you HATE first person?? If so, what was the last first person book you read?