POV Reset

So I’m 50 pages into the GLAMOUR manuscript, and find it’s not workin’ for me.   I’m not catching the rhythm of the protagonist; it feels like he’s a chess piece being moved around from scene to scene.  His conversations should by crackling by now, but I find he’s talking less and less, and I have to improvise some illogical actions just to show him reacting.  I’m moving the story around him instead of having him drive the story.  I was following my plotting outline, but it had sort of lost its punch for me.  Sort of dull and dead.

Then I read Joe Hill’s terrific first novel, Heart-Shaped Box; hands down the best horror I’ve read in years.   This is the kind of book I like to read, and this is the kind of book I want to write.  The biggest character arc in the story isn’t the protagonist’s, it’s the journey the reader takes as he follows the characters, and I rode that train to the very last page. 

I sat down and studied the first five chapters of the book, and noticed a thing or two.  The first thing is that Mr. Hill breaks some of the very rules I’d always thought were cast in stone; like not opening your story with exposition.  The first three pages of Heart-Shaped Box are pure exposition.  But they’re so interesting and intriguing, that by the time you get to get to media res on the last paragraph of page three, you’re already hooked.  Joe Hill wrote that first novel of his in third person, and although there’s a lot of exposition throughout the book, he makes it work by weaving it into almost every paragraph. 
The other thing I noticed is that there is very little description of the protagonist.  Other than having a hairy chest and a beard, the only other physical aspects of his character which are described, are his injuries. 

The third thing that I learned was from the Acknowledgements page at the back of the book, where the author thanked his agent, editors, and supporters for all the hard work they put into helping him develop and deliver his manuscript.  It reminded me that I shouldn’t be so hard on my own writing.  After all, every author starts out with a first draft.

It wasn’t until I decided to post a review on Amazon about how much I liked the book that I discovered that Joe Hill’s dad is Stephen King (one of my all-time favorites, and one of the guys I whose books I always want to read).  Okay, so the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but Joe had to learn his chops just like the rest of us.   So make a long story short, I decided to start over and rewrite the first 50 pages in third person, too.  I’d originally planned to write it in third person, anyway.  After the first three paragraphs, I’m pretty sure I’ve made the right decision.  Thanks for the tip, Joe.
This entry was posted in exposition, great fiction, Heart-Shaped Box, horror, Joe Hill, pov, third person. Bookmark the permalink.

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