Wednesday, 9 June 2010

It's difficult to dumb down

For my BuNoWriMo novel, I've created a few challenges for myself. I've done three things differently in this novel than in any other.

1) I'm writing in first person.
2) I'm writing from the POV of a Canadian.
3) I've taken on a new main character - someone less educated and naive.

Now, I would say I've got a handle on the first challenge, though I have caught myself wanting to go back to third person. I'm even liking the inner workings of the first person novel.

Why do I find the second one hard? Those who know me, know I'm Canadian. So why is writing from that POV a challenge? Well, first of all, I normally write British mysteries. I mainly read British novels and literature, watch British films and TV shows, and listen to mainly British bands. Second, I haven't lived in Canada for a few years. My mom's not Canadian, so Canadian speak isn't really natural for me in the first place. Sadly, I'm out of practice being a Canadian. I think I will have to go on an IV of Tim Horton's coffee, eat only poutine for a week, and watch the Calgary Flames play hockey on TV, eh?  (What do you mean hockey season is over?)

So, that leaves number three. I'm finding it the hardest. All the other characters I've written were... how can I say this? Educated. Learned. Not that my current character isn't educated but she's in a word... naive. Her only job at sixteen was working at a Co-op gas bar. Her last movie was Fargo(1995). I'm not sure she's even heard of Celine Dion or Shania Twain or hell, The Barenaked Ladies! This isolated woman (both physically and emotionally) is difficult to write and the last few days, I've had to really discover her voice.

Even though she's begun to open up to me, I still find her voice difficult. Hopefully by the end of the novel, I will have the dialect down and I can go back to the beginning and make sure it's the same voice throughout.

Has anyone else created similar challenges for themselves?

Recipe for Poutine


  1. Sounds like you have created a challenge for yourself but it's working. Best of luck.

    Thoughts in Progress

  2. Quite a challenge you have taken on for yourself, Clarissa. I think dumbing down is probably more difficult than smartening up. Because you need to forget the obvious, not brush up on your research.
    Look forward to hearing more about the book.

  3. That sounds quite a challenge, but I bet it will be worth it.
    As for writing in the first person, I am a huge fan of it even though its always advised not to - Jodi Picoult is a master at it.

  4. It's teaching you to stretch!
    And sorry, hockey season ended last night when the Blackhawks won.

  5. I can imagine. I think it would be very difficult to write about a character like that.

  6. Doh!! Chicago won!? Ah well, there's always next year.

    Thanks, everyone for your support. I love challenges and so this project keeps me going.


  7. Oh, that character sounds interesting! Best of luck with her. :)

    - Corra

    the victorian heroine

  8. Good for you for challenging yourself! For me it's a challenge to write from the male POV. I always have to let a guy read it over to make sure it doesn't sound too girly. Some day I hope I'll be confident and skilled to know when the male POV sounds authentic, but for not it's challenging!

  9. How did I not know you were Canadian?! We have to stick together!

    First person POV can be tricky. But it's really fun!

  10. Hey, girl-friend, as you said in your previous post, just write the darn thing :).


  11. I feel like I am continously challenging myself. I don't know why things can't be easy. But if they were easy, we wouldn't learn as much, would we? Your character sounds fascinating. Good luck with her, Clarissa.

  12. Corra McFeydon - Thanks. I hope she comes out all right.

    Laura Marcella -I've only written in a male POV once and it was a short story. I did well with it, I don't really know how.

    Talli Roland -It's interesting that you're Canadian. Now, it's like we're family.

    Bisi Adjapon - Advice noted. Thank you. I was finally able to add your blog. Bloggers been acting up lately. But, I'll look out for more posts.

    Karen Walker- Yes, one of the reasons I'm still a writer is that it's still challenging. I need a challenge to remain interested.


  13. Clarissa - It's funny you would mention the challenges of taking on a different POV and a different level of education. I'm doing that in my WIP - well, the education-level part - for one of my characters, and it is a challenge! I want to be respectful of the wisdom of those who may not have a lot of formal education, but at the same time, allow that character to express thoughts in a natural-for-the-character way. It's good for me to do, but not easy...

    I wish you well meeting the challenge, and I'm sure you can.

  14. Same goes to you, Margot. It's something we would think would be easy... why is it so difficult?


  15. My current MC is so depressing. She sucks the life out of me. She's negative and over-reactive and internally dramatic.

    Needless to say, she's challenging me.

  16. Palindrome, I have characters and books like that too. It's mentally draining and thus, physically draining. I like the challenge of writing but there are drawbacks.



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