When I start the first page of a new project- there are some decisions that need to be made. I always have a rough storyline (Okay, that’s an understatement. I usually have a three-page, detailed outline before I start. Plotting gives my inner control-freak a delicious bone to chew on) and a main character.
But the first page requires me to figure out:
The tense of the story. Past? Present? First person? Third person? Omniscient? (<- I constantly confuse this term with ‘Omnipotent’)
The tone. Light and airy? Dark and mysterious? I never know until I’m into the first or second page. Sometimes manuscripts surprise me by turning out much darker or lighter than I anticipated.
In any case, I end up doing the first page hokey pokey for awhile until I find my groove. But then, as the story takes over, I don’t usually think about tense or tone until the thing is finished.
This work-in-progress played with being third-person-past and first-person-present for a few days and finally decided she liked being first-person-present. After all, my last two manuscripts were written this way and I felt like my TPP was too rusty to use at the moment.
But then, 15k in, the damn thing changed her mind. She just switched to TPP as I was writing chapter seven and refused to go back. I mean RE-FUSED. She even made me read the first chapter over in her desired tense and I begrudgingly agreed– it flowed better. You know how sometimes when you try to paint or draw an image you have in mind, it never comes out exactly like what you imagined? The lines are blurry or you can’t get the colors right? Well, that’s how my manuscript was feeling. But changing the tense kind of brightened those lines and put it closer to what I’d imagined.
So, yesterday was spent switching hunks of the text to third-person past and I still haven’t finished. *sigh*
I don’t think a manuscript has ever given me so much trouble.
She better be worth it!
Has anyone else had a manuscript decide to change tense on them mid-first draft?