Adding to his collection of murder mysteries, Ross is currently writing Alibi, the story of Connie Basil who, at the age 19, fell under suspicion of raping and murdering a 20-year-old woman. He couldn’t tell the chief of police where he really was at the time of the murder because he was in bed–with the chief’s wife.
The story begins on his return to his hometown, 25 years after leaving.
Ross read the opening chapter twice–first in first person and then in third person with plenty of italicized first person thoughts in Connie’s head. When he finished reading, he said the problem is, he doesn’t know which to use.
“I do!” Lisa said–and soundly declared the third person version. Laura equally soundly disagreed. A lively discussion ensued, with all in agreement that both scenes were well-written, and engaging, both would entice a reader to continue–but all equally soundly adhering to differing views of which was better.
Genny also preferred first person, feeling it drew her right in and let her really understand Connie and feel his emotions in a more powerful way than she had in previous readings. Judd felt that the third person version allowed the best of both worlds–the interior thoughts of Connie, but also the author’s ability to give the interior thoughts of others, as well. Laura felt that it was a bit jarring to switch constantly between third and first, while Lisa felt that Connie’s thoughts, jumping from the present to the past to Delores (who was raped and murdered) to the police chief’s wife to his own guilt about not being with Delores that day–which certainly would have saved her life–all flowed more naturally in the third person version.
Among discussions regarding point of view was that whatever Ross chooses in the end, writing from inside Connie’s head was a good exercise. Laura reminded him of his comments years ago that drove her to re-write an entire half of a book in first person.
What Ross decides remains to be seen. But we all agreed that we liked both versions, regardless of our individual (and strongly held) preferences, and that sometimes writing scenes in a different voice can be very beneficial even if those versions don’t end up being used.