Intense First Person

Why does so much of my writing lack detail? Well there are a couple of reasons. One element is that I’m experimenting with a style of writing that I really like reading. Borrowing from science fiction and fantasy author C. J. Cherryh’s description of ‘intense third person’:

Cherryh uses a writing technique she has variously labeled “very tight limited third person”, “intense third person”, and “intense internal” voice. In this approach, the only things the writer narrates are those that the viewpoint character specifically notices or thinks about. If a starship captain arrives at a space station, for example, the narration may not mention important features of the station with which the captain is already familiar, even though these things might be of interest to the reader, because the captain does not notice them or think about them due to their familiarity. This technique can offer a similar experience to that of reading the viewpoint character’s mind—sometimes at great length—and thus it can resemble stream of consciousness narrative.

I’ve gone with the idea of ‘intense first person’. As a reader I like the idea of letting my imagination fill in the blanks and don’t feel I need to have detailed description poured all over the page. This approach may not appeal to everyone (or anyone), but since I might be writing only for myself I decided to go with what I enjoyed most. As a consequence, when my character does something or experiences something, I feel they would only mention the elements that stand out to them at the time. Also, since my first completed work was “Diary of a Contract Killer” I was thinking of the idea that the character is writing in such a way that they want to minimize the sort of detailed information that could allow someone to recreate their activities, since the bulk of said activities are illegal. Finally, they would focus on the sorts of things they think are interesting and wouldn’t necessarily provide detail on things they consider mundane, though naturally that is from their rarified point of view. I imagined the characters would be writing their ‘diary’ with the intent of letting others read it so would make some efforts to provide suspense rather than simply list their thoughts.

Since they’re writing their thoughts down after the fact, as a consequence they would have additional filters and biases (I tried to show that in the second “Diary of a Contract Killer” book where I wrote from three points of view).

Author: mitusents

Biochemist, MBA, then programmer. Now novelist, screenplay writer and hopefully director. What a strange trip it's been.