Letting It Flow Naturally

As with most things, I don’t think a lot about the mechanics of my writing — I just sort of put words down and figure out how it works later. This has lead me to abandon projects because holy shit, it needs wa~y too much mechanic work.

By default for many many moons I wrote in what I sort of think of as the standard point-of-view: third person past tense. (I know there’s more than one type of third person, but go ask one of the English majors if you want more of that nonsense.) It came naturally, and I ran with it.

Eventually, that changed.

On the Topic of POV

I tend to avoid first person because I don’t like the lack of distance between myself and the character. I-the-Writer speak in a pretty distinct way, and I know that at times my writing reflects that. I often fear that all my characters sound the same — like me. On top of that, I don’t often write the sort of stories that need a first-person perspective. Even when I start a story in first person, I almost always change my mind within 3,000 words.

I hate second person. I’ve written in it once for fun, and I’ve read it a couple times. Both times, the goal was the same: to force the reader to feel an emotion (fear, in both examples I’m using here) by saying this could be you. To me, it feels overdone and sloppy. I know not everyone agrees, but I just can’t do it.

So, third person it is. I like that it can be distant or it can get in close; I like that it allows me to shift naturally to another character. (Logically, I know you can do that with any POV, but with first person, it just doesn’t feel natural to me.)

And Then We Got to Tense

You have no idea how hard it was to avoid making a joke in that header.

So, forever and ever ago, I wrote in past tense, all the time, without a second thought. Then I all but stopped writing for a while when I was pregnant and after my son was born.

When I got back to writing fiction with gusto in the autumn of 2010, this weird thing happened where I started writing in pesent tense. All the time, even when I was trying to write in past tense. `I don’t know if I read something and it just became natural, or what. I can’t explain it.

I like it better. I don’t know if it just feels more natural, or if its just become habit, but I’ve hit a point where writing in past tense feels cumbersome. I never really notice when I’m reading, but when I’m writing? I just eventually slip back into present tense.

If I ever finish something, I’ll let you know if I regret that decision — but for now, it works to just roll with what feels right.

Ashley M. Hill found her voice in science fiction when her curiosity about technology coupled with the lifelong urge to tell stories. Her interest in social and feminist issues shapes how she approaches the genre. She's pursuing computer and network repair for her day job.

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