On Tuesday, I challenged the readers of this blog to share first-person diary entries. I encourage you to write diary-style entries regularly – whether they are your actual diary or diaries as written by characters residing in your head.
The Door I Chose – My experiment with first-person POV in a sci-fi inspired drama
I shared the opening of The Door I Chose, I story I wrote as a series of diary entries from two possible realities. The main character, Sean, stumbles out of his parents’s car after an accident, and goes back to the car to open either the driver’s side door or the passenger’s side. That’s where the timeline splits – if Sean opens one door first, his father survives, and if he opens the other, his mother survives. The story splits into two narratives, each one following a possible outcome of that fateful crash.
Flowers for Algernon – a great first-person novel
If you want an excellent example of a sci-fi-ish story told in the first-person, I encourage you to read Flowers for Algernon if you haven’t already. It follows the story of a mentally disabled adult who undergoes an experimental treatment. The complexity of the narrative increases as the main character’s intelligence is boosted by the experiment – it’s a really cool way to show how the character and his view of the world changes and evolves.
In your writing, I hope you will find cool ways to use first-person narrative. It lends itself very well to dramatic, life-changing and world-view-changing events!
Below is my opening for The Door I Chose – I hope it will inspire you to share your own work.
Tuesday July 2, 2013 – The first anniversary
My mind still replays the night the drunk driver hit us.
I see headlights swirling around my head as I stumble out, rain soaking my rented tuxedo. Damn Pomp and Circumstance starts replaying in my head as I pull myself up. I thrust my hand up to block the streetlight overhead. My feet are icy blocks; I look down and find out I’m ankle-deep in a puddle. Damn potholes.
I splash through the water, back to the car. This is where my near-perfect playback messes up. I can’t even remember which door I open, which side I rush to first. Whichever one it is, red and blue lights shine in my eyes just as I get it open.
Paramedics push me aside, going for the open door first. They put a blanket around me, and herd me into an ambulance. They won’t let me watch.
They rescue one, barely, while the other dies. I remember talking to Dr. Morris about my weird memory – how sometimes it’s Dad that dies and sometimes it’s Mom. He said it was trauma that will take time to work through. He told me to keep a diary, but back then I could barely think about it.
Dr. Morris contacted me today, just to check up. He offered to look at my diary once or twice a month for a decent rate. I’m ready to do this.
I know it won’t do any good to revisit that night over and over. I should talk about things as they are now. Still, I can’t help myself from wondering – what if I’d opened the other door?