Kris Bryant blogs:
I like to challenge myself when I start a writing project. Now that I have a loose grasp on who I am as a writer, I’m starting to push myself out of my comfort zone. Writing first person has always been my thing. I enjoy being in the mind of the main character and writing the emotions from her point of view. There is a rawness and vulnerability to it, and first person allows me to dig deep and explore the character’s reasons for her actions or words.
I tried writing Breakthrough in third person and failed miserably by page two, so I chickened out. I wasn’t ready for the switch. My writing wasn’t mature enough, and my confidence was shaky at best. With ten books under my belt and a sprinkle of novellas, I decided to tackle third person again. The first chapter took longer than expected. I polished it and tightened it up and realized it was decent, but a bit melancholy. Serena Evans came through as a loner with very little love in her life, but she was never angry about it. She was matter-of-fact about the self-sacrificing choices she made to better her sister’s life. There was never any doubt about what she was going to do every day of her life. She never expected anything good to happen, so when it did, she almost didn’t believe it. When Gabrielle Barnes joined the story, she came through as the opposite of Serena. Strong family, tons of friends, and fought hard for everything good. Writing their story was different because I had to develop both characters evenly and share their emotions differently than in first person. For the first time, I had the opportunity to share the love interest’s thoughts and feelings. It was fun and exciting because I got to witness their mutual attraction grow and watch them learn each other’s wants and needs instead of stumbling along with the main character wondering if this woman was The One, the one who would change her life completely. I felt like a matchmaker in third person—each hand holding a doll, moving them closer together, so they would eventually kiss and, you know, other stuff.
There’s a level of angst that naturally comes with writing first person narrative. You are on the journey with the main character, and unless there is dialogue, you don’t know what the love interest is thinking. That’s real life. And in real life, if you constantly ask her what’s she thinking, she’ll run away. So like the main character, you pick up on body language, how they interact with others, and their actions in life to stay interested. Angst in third person is harder for me because it’s more external, and I’ve been writing internal angst for six years.
The thing I like about third person is that it’s meaty. I can drop adjectives and describe things that would have sounded awkward in first. That being said, my third person books (yes, more than one) have more words. Lucky sits at 84,000 words, and Home started out as a novella like Tinsel, but I doubled the word count, so it’s now a short novel at 55,000 words. I told Sandy it would come in at 25,000. Oops! Sorry, not sorry. It’s a feel-good story with a hint of paranormal that my editor Ashley and I discussed in great detail. I think my readers will enjoy it.
There are challenges to writing both. Honestly, it’s amazing to me how many people start off, I don’t normally like reading first person... So that was the driving force for me to even consider writing in third. I know that it’s impossible to write a book that pleases every reader, but I wanted to try. And really, who hasn’t thought of what they would do if they won the lottery? I’m going to guess at least half the readers would allocate some of the money to animal care. Truly, this book isn’t far from what I would do if I won. I love animals and wish I could do more for them. I do what I can, and I know I’ve mentioned this before, but animal shelters around the world need help. Not just monetary contributions, but things most people don’t think about: towels, toys, cleaners, newspapers—things you probably have in your recycle bins or thrift store donation bag.
But back to the writing. I slipped back into first for Scent, and I struggled, but I think that had more to do with the pandemic and my anxiety as a result of what’s going on in the world. Now that I have a better mind-set, I started another book this week. Funny thing about that is that I wrote three paragraphs before I even realized I was writing it in third. I switched back to first because it’s part of Brit Ryder’s Shameless universe, and if I'm going tackle a full-length erotic novel, it's going to be in first person.
Future books will let me know if they want to be told in first or third, and now I have a bit more confidence to listen to my heart and trust my writing ability. The initial reviews of Lucky have been positive, and I hope readers enjoy the story and my fledgling attempt at third person.