It’s been fun getting more into initial manuscript assessments and developmental editing, figuring out the writer’s voice(es) as they choose how to narrate their stories (first person, third person point of view). So many decisions, and then trying to stay consistent! I am glad to be the editor for a fictional story rather than the creator; I get this feeling of the writer molding clay to create their story, with all these little movements and marks that have to come together into a coherent whole. I am much happier with my tiny-by-comparison poem stories. 🙂
As the surrogate reader with professional writerly knowledge, I do see where things might need tweaking to make a story flow consistently in terms of the protagonist’s or omniscient narrator’s voice and perspective. It can be confusing if the writer shifts from third-person narration to first-person without clearly identifying who is speaking, for example.
For the reader, I think it’s useful for a first-person narrator to be identified early on by other characters so we have a name for them and maybe how they are basically related to others. I remember one story I read where a first-person narrator was introduced after some previous introduction of other characters and plot points (she just started relating her experience as “I/me”), and it took awhile before I realized that she was so-and-so and was actually the widow of one of the characters mentioned in the first chapter.
That said, we don’t need a detailed set of character sketches prior to getting into the action of the story or the initial hook of the first couple of sentences, but there are ways to use other characters in dialogue, for example, to identify the first person narrator shortly after they begin speaking.
Getting people identified one way or another early on, makes a huge difference in the flow of reading. Just sayin’. 🙂
From the Shepherd’s Satchel
Carolyn Hayley has written a valuable article on the editor’s handling of fiction categories at the An American Editor blog. Check it out here.
And a nice little set of reminders on writing fiction over at Reedsy. Check that out here.