So I’m starting to rework my short story “Zombie Monkey” into a serial novel for Tales of the Zombie War, due to popular demand, and all day I’ve been kicking around ideas for how to go back and tell the story from the very beginning. Basic writer crap – lots of autistic rocking, false starts, and bouts of intense procrastination.
Things I would rather do than write when I’m not absolutely 100% in the mood to write:
Herein lies my dilemma. I actually have no idea why the original short is written in first person (I want to say that the creative writing exercise I originally wrote it for required that it be a first person, dialogue-heavy piece, but I could be talking out of my ass here because let’s face it, that was like, two years ago and what did I just say about having a short term memory?).
Most of my fiction over the years has been done in third person perspective, and now that I’ve started to work on the zombie story in earnest – tentatively titling it Everybody But Lazarus – my first inclination is to go back to that, especially for the prologue, which is done from the point of view of a FEMA agent and not the main character at all.
However, I don’t want this version to be discongruous with the original short story that everyone liked so much, so I tried writing part of it in retrospective first person from the beginning. Very “Call me Ishmael”, but with zombies. No good – it just doesn’t feel natural. So I’m back to telling the story in scenes, which is easier for me than an inner monologue anyway.
I did briefly kick around the idea of doing a parallel plot with half of the story in third person and half of it in first person (it’s been done well, especially in books like The Poisonwood Bible) but so far I’ve decided not to write it like that because I really don’t like to read anything without a consistent perspective. And to be honest, first person is not my favorite thing to read in general, unless the story is just absolutely outside of this world. (Motherless Brooklyn jumps immediately to mind.)
So what do you think? Do multiple perspectives within a single piece of fiction piss you off, or do you think it’s the hottest thing since William Burrough’s testes? Inquiring minds want to know.
First Draft Snippet –
“The scientists named it Resurgumviridae (say that five times fast). The media, for as long as they were maintaining a working line of steady communications, called it Lazarus syndrome. Survivors now just call it the infection, or Lazarus, and that’s good enough for me. I’m rarely in a position to consider it philosophically these days.” (Everybody But Lazarus)