I’m no stranger to taking the long way around. It seems to be an annoying little habit of mine. It’s like I look at my two possible options and think– yep, I’ll take the hard one. Why, Casie? Just why?
But recently, I actually think taking the long way proved beneficial for me. You see, when I started writing SEEKING SARA STERLING, I wanted to experiment with writing in third person, past tense as opposed to first person, present tense, which I’d used in my previous two books. I needed to prove to myself that I could do it.
And I think I ended up doing a pretty decent job of writing the book this way. But I have to admit, a niggling thought kept coming up as I was writing. Would this story be better told in first person?
In the back of my mind, I think I knew it probably would be all along, but since I’d started it in third person, I wanted to finish it that way.
I sent the book out to several beta readers. With their feedback, I revised and sent it out to a few more. And finally, someone else said it. One beta reader mentioned that she thought it would be better told in first person.
I didn’t make my mind up to change it right away. After all, I’d received quite a bit of positive feedback from the third person version as well.
But that niggling thought just wouldn’t go away. I knew I should at least attempt it.
So I started by writing the first two chapters in first person. The only problem was I still couldn’t make up my mind which I liked better. I read a chapter to my husband and then to my local writers’ group. The feedback was unanimous: I should definitely switch the novel to first person.
So I did. And I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the results. I secretly feared I wouldn’t be able to get into Sara’s character enough to do it justice. But in the end, I think I was able to. I still have at least one more pass to do before I’ll be ready to query, but I’m excited to have made these changes.
And I wanted to share an excerpt from my new and improved version of SEEKING SARA STERLING. So here it is!
(from Chapter 8, in which Sara makes the decision to go work at her uncle’s Colorado dude ranch for the summer)
Only three posters adorn the walls of my bedroom. They each feature a tiger in some menacing position. I’d hung them when I redid my room a few years ago, switching out the pink and yellow floral theme for a simplistic, silver and black one. In my opinion, the posters add just the right amount of color to the room.
My favorite is the one which hangs directly across from my bed, where the tiger’s amber eyes seem to stare directly at me. My mother has told me more than once she finds the images unsettling, but they have the opposite effect on me. Of course, I’ve never seen a real-life tiger up close, and I’d probably be scared shitless if I did, but still, I find the animals mesmerizing. All that deadly power harnessed in a sleek, fiery package.
Sunlight shines through the blinds, creating slivers of yellowish-white across my bed. I don’t feel like getting up yet, so I just lie here, gazing into the tiger’s eyes. They do little to comfort me this morning though. The enthusiasm I usually feel the day after school lets out is noticeably absent. An endless summer seems to stretch before me, and I’m really not excited about any part of it. I’ll work. Hang out at the community pool some. Go catch a few movies with my mom. And maybe I will do more with my girlfriends, but none of these options sound all that appealing. And none will patch the gaping hole inside me. The funny thing is, that hole has been there for some time. I think I just got tired of pretending it wasn’t.
“You opening again today?” my dad asks. I’d finally dragged myself out of bed and am now seated at the table, along with the rest of the family, for a late breakfast.
“No,” I say. “I’ve got the evening shift.”
Dad nods as he peppers his scrambled eggs. “So how does it feel to be finished with high school?”
“Weird.” I push my eggs around with my fork. They’re a little on the overdone side. Mom’s forte has never been breakfast foods.
“Did you have fun last night?” she asks. She’s wearing one of my shirts. One I haven’t worn in some time, but I don’t say anything about it.
I nod and fake a smile. “Yeah, it was a nice girls’ night out.” I hope she won’t ask me to elaborate any further.
“Well, that’s good.” She gives me a sad-looking smile. The one I’m getting to know all too well now. “I’m glad you have your girlfriends to help you get through this.” It seems she’s still purposefully avoiding the term break-up. “Maybe you can do more with them this summer. I know you’ve often had other . . . priorities.”
She means Bryan, of course. I take a bite of my eggs, and nod absent-mindedly.
Dad sighs and looks at his watch. “Oops. Better get out of here. Got another showing this morning. I look up as he stands, an odd sensation prickling in my chest.
“Did you call Uncle Dean yet?”
Dad’s brow creases as he takes a final sip of his coffee. He places the mug back on the table. “Yeah, how come?”
Both Mom and Derrick are staring at me too now.
I chew my lip for a moment. “I think I want to go . . . if he hasn’t filled the job yet, that is.” I know it’s crazy, but I’ve been considering the idea ever since leaving the party last night. I just hadn’t made my mind up until this moment.
My mom looks incredulous, but doesn’t say anything.
Dad grins. “I’ll call him back. I’m sure he’d still love to have you.”
Derrick snorts and then his mouth shifts into that familiar smirk. “Yeehaw.”