Blogumentary: Forced Perspective – Finding My Voice as a Writer

I started this series to document the process I was going through while writing and publishing my first book.  I figured that maybe there would be other people out there who have a desire to try to write, but have never made the attempt.  (That should be a safe assumption based on all the people who say they’ve always wanted to write a book or have been thinking about writing a book whenever they find out I’m an author.)  Along with that process comes other topics that could be helpful for people to be aware of.

For me, my interest in writing came from a love of reading.  I certainly don’t have a background in writing outside of simply being an avid reader.  So when I started writing, it was a challenge to find my voice – to figure out my writing style.  I knew what I liked to read, so my assumption was that my writing would be similar to that.  Man, if only it was that easy!

I sputtered through my first handful of short stories trying to figure out character development, plot structure, story arc, realistic dialogue, pacing, and all those other fancy components of writing a story on a small-scale.  I think they were productive in helping me learn and accomplish my short-term goals.  Between those initial attempts at creative writing and my first novel, I learned a tremendous amount about the writing process, but I still struggled with making my stories actually good.  How can I differentiate my writing from the millions of other writers out there?  Hasn’t anything worth writing already probably been written?  How do I find an interesting perspective for story-telling?  What could I possibly have to offer?  Then the idea for my short story Gimme Three Steps hit me, and it was a light bulb moment.

When I was younger, I loved taking goofy pictures that looked like I was accomplishing some super-human feat: holding the statue of liberty in the palm of my hand, using a skyscraper as a leaning post, interacting with inanimate statues, and so on.  As I got older I learned that there was a term for that type of photography: forced perspective.  With the idea I had for Gimme Three Steps, I would essentially be applying the forced perspective concept to writing instead of photography.

Now let me be clear here – I know I’m not remotely close to the first person that’s ever done this and I certainly didn’t invent this idea out of thin air, but from what I can tell, it’s also not a super common practice.  Maybe it’s called something different when it relates to writing and that’s why I haven’t had any luck trying to research the concept.  I don’t know.  All I know is that I seem to have found a distinct voice for my short stories, and a very interesting way to tell stories.  I’ve published a couple of these forced perspective stories on this site already and I have a few more waiting to be edited.  I enjoy writing them, and hopefully you enjoy reading them and trying to figure out the narrator’s role in the story.

I think my first novels also delivered with an unconventional point of view with them being told in first person.  As the reader, you only know what the main character knows.  There’s a lot that goes on outside the periphery of the main character and you’re left guessing just as the narrator is.  Again, I’m certainly not the first person to tell a story with a first person perspective, but it’s also not a common viewpoint in popular literature.  Maybe that’s why I’m having such difficulty making my books popular??  Hmm…something to think about.

Anyway, that’s a lot of words to say it’s important to find a style that works for you.  Experiment until you find a method that is fun and exciting for you to write.  It’s easier for readers to enjoy your work if you enjoy writing it.  And don’t assume your writing style is going to match Harlan Coben or Dennis Lehane simply because you love reading their books.

Thank you, that is all.

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