I was looking at my current projects today and I noticed a disturbing trend. A few years ago I had a third-person crime noir novel, a first-person YA novel, and a third-person adult scifi thriller. Now I feel like I’m relying a lot on chatty protagonists.
My big project, the LIT YA Novel, is first-person from a chatty female POV. My short story is from a slightly less chatty female POV. One of the projects I’m editing is from three third-person female POVs. The Horrible Short Story is from a third-person female POV.
I tend to think of my writing “career” in three stages: the beginning stage, when I was still just trying stuff out; the middle stage, when I became more ambitious and tried for longer projects; and then this stage when I’m actively trying to be professional about this thing. What’s getting to me is that in the first two stages I wrote a lot from male POV’s, from older adults, and more traditional hard sci-fi. I fear that I’ve fallen into the trap of writing people like me–middle-class females with a sarcastic streak–and I don’t want to be that person.
Let’s face it–writing a chatty female for me is easy. I love writing dialogue and writing first-person is like writing dialogue all the time. It’s fun. It’s like candy. But I worry that I’m not stretching, I’m just doing what’s comfortable. Sure, before this past year I had never written any YA at all. Now I feel like everything I write has a touch of that young adult-flavor to it. And I used to write almost everything from a guy’s point of view; not because I was trying but because that was the ways the stories worked. I don’t want to be using this young female POV as a crutch. I want to be trying when I write because otherwise all my stories will be is pages of slightly snarky inner monologue with a plot thrown in.
Now, I do have a couple ideas floating around in my head. The big one is a novel idea–kind of a serial killer thriller, with some familial drama and a little romantic intrigue thrown in. Of course I’m not going to start it until I’m done with the first draft of my current novel, but that’ll take until the fall at least. These little thoughts are a good sign, though–it shows that I’m far enough along in my current novel to be a bit annoyed by it Hopefully this next novel will marinate while I finish the YA piece and then I can try something new (and edit. Of course). Maybe I’m just going through a phase–one where I turn out good stuff, I hope–before moving into some different styles.
Please tell me some of you have writing crutches you lean on as well?