First and foremost my most natural form of writing is first person, past tense. It is what spills out of my mind and onto the page instinctively. I have tried other points of view and tenses, but they are simply not natural to me at all.
However, I had one of those Gru "Lightbulb!" moments while rereading through my first book to make sure I have facts aligned with what I am writing in the second book. Out of the blue I am reading the words, my own lovingly crafted words, out loud in a completely different tense. I literally sit and stare at the page, stunned by the the idea. It's more than just a good idea...it completes the story, makes it even better. Finishes it completely.
I am also floored by the magnitude of the concept. I would have to comb through the manuscript line by line and switch it from first person past tense to first person present tense, then do the same with what I've already written in the second book. I am literally shaken.
I am also now worried. Book One has been out on submission and is still out to about a half dozen agents/publishers. I honestly doubt they'd grin and nod happily at me if I were to throw a revised version at them and say "Oh, never-mind...this is the real manuscript!". They'd laugh hysterically and slam the proverbial door on my face. Repeatedly.
Now I am torn. I really really really want this flash of brilliance to work out, I am burning with the desire to "fix" the first book (I am not stupid, I keep copies of EVERY revision I do, so the original subbed one will be ok if it doesn't fly) but now I am wondering if I really AM crazy. What if my opinion of my own work is hopelessly biased? Okay, I'll do a test.
I take a random page from Book One and copy it to a blank page and carefully recraft it into first person present tense. It's actually shockingly easy. Oh, God, and it seems to make even more sense as I read it again. Now for the test. I send both pages, the new and the original to two of my beta readers and ask them to read the before and after and let me know which they preferred.
Not minutes later I get two fangirly (which is hard to wrap my head around as one is a dude) emails back proclaiming my new version is waaaay better (insert manly squeal here) because now it doesn't read as "a diary of an event that happened so long ago that the reader is distanced emotionally". Okay, I can handle that summary...because that was my first impression as well.
First person present, why have you eluded me all this time!?!
Here's the weird part. I still can't write first person present with any amount of ease. At all. I've screamed four letter words all day at my laptop trying. I can only rewrite that way for some reason. Gah!! I will have to write as I've always done, but go back and "revise" it to present for Book Two.
So, do I resub? Do I not fix it? Do I wait out the subs and then start fresh if it's not picked up? Gah!
Here, here are two small snippets from Book One so you can perhaps judge for yourself. Enjoy!
Okay, maybe he was really stoned, "What?"
He didn't answer, but kept his burning glare on me until he'd backed far enough away to turn and make a break for it.
My trembling fingers dragged the tangled strands of my dark blonde hair over my face again as I stumbled to my feet and toward my locker. I stuffed the hurt at the strange boy's response to me deep inside and locked it away with all the other pain I felt on a daily basis.
My hand froze over the combination lock. A small wad of paper taped to the dented metal door crinkled in the cool morning breeze. I plucked it off and unfolded it, puzzled.
Okay, maybe he is really stoned, "What?"
He doesn't answer, but keeps his burning glare on me until he's backed far enough away to turn and make a break for it.
My trembling fingers drag tangled strands of my hair over my face again as I stumble to my feet and toward my locker. I stuff the hurt at the strange boy's response to me deep inside and lock it away with all the other pain I feel on a daily basis.
My hand freezes over the combination lock. A small wad of paper taped to the dented metal door crinkles in the cool morning breeze. I pluck it off and unfold it, puzzled.