Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border

Kootenai River in NW Montana, near Canadian Border
photo by Gene Tunick of Eureka, Montana

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Tip O'Day #422 - "I'm No Cop"

Guest blogger Mark Sadler on writing from first person point of view.

I had always baulked at writing in the first person because it just seemed, well, so personal. Surely one would have to be experienced in whatever the subject matter was to pull it off. I write suspense and police procedurals and really have a vivid imagination rather than experience so it would probably come off weak. That’s what I told myself, anyway. As I started to write my current project, I actually started in the first person and then switched as it felt false and weird. However the more I wrote, I realized that telling the story as a cop from the first person standpoint brought more of a charge to what I felt as I wrote.

I was totally unprepared for what was to come. As writers we all know that our characters take us where they want to go, which is not necessarily the direction we thought they should. As my protagonist drifted through the present and into his past, the emotions that were brought up as he took me where he had been as a child brought tears to my eyes. As I witnessed my mother being strangled to death, as it were, I was able to understand his path through the current stages of the novel.

Now I have never been a cop, and never experienced the horrible nightmares this poor child experienced. I never knew the consequences on an abused child later in life, nowhere close. Does that make me less of an expert, less able to issue commentary on the subject? Of course not. No one ever asked Stephen King what he knew about living under a dome or time-travel. We writers are all readers of other authors’ works, and of real-life news events. We all use these for inspiration, woven together with our own thoughts and experiences. If your book lacks emotional attachment, try putting yourself in the shoes of your protagonist and watch the flavors pop!

Mark’s thriller, Blood On His Hands, is available in paperback and Kindle here and you can learn more about him at his website www.markpsadler.com

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