In this kooky online writing competition I’m in, we have a deadline on Monday. I work third shift’s (midnight to 8am), have a small child with autism, and not a whole lot of free time as a result.

I’ve been kicking around this piece for the past three days. It’s heavily based on one of my novels. If I’m completely honest, it’s me, disguising theย Gray Morningย universe as much as possible, changing character names/titles etc so that it reads like it’s based in the US, and so that people might not have their eyes roll into the back of their heads.

Except my antagonist, Mitchel, is so clearly himself. The protagonist of the scene, Amelia, is clearly herself, as well, but in the book she’s a minor character; her role is huge, but her screen time is very understated. Mitchel? Well, he’s been the focus of an Idol piece or two, and how his actions and words have a huge impact on my novel’s protagonist, Savin. He’s been deconstructed in a piece or two of meta I’ve written for the competition, as well.

I don’t want people to recognize him, but I do. I don’t want people to go “Oh, she’s writing that *%$#)*% novel again,” and back out of the entry. Not to mention, the topics this go around (we had to pick one out of a group of 5) are so open-ended and up to interpretation, and the voters have been favoring the very literal, very close interpretations this season. For people like me who sometimes view the topics abstractly, it’s been a challenge boxing myself in, a little.

The basis of this piece? Mitchel is undergoing an interrogation for the murder of Jasper (Jazz) Callahan — except, of course, the names are changed. Jasper is the Emperor of their particular world; Mitchel is his second-in-command, in a way. So I changed it from their world to the US; Mitchel is Vice President, Jazz President. Amelia is head of the Secret Service and is doing the interrogation herself.

Mitchel’s motivations are varied. He wants power. He wants control. He believes that Jazz never should have been handed this position — that Jazz is effortlessly perfect (and here is my topic connection — Mitchel believes that Jazz is a man of “shibusa,” though if you know Jazz’s character, you realize this is just a projection on Mitchel’s part), and therefore, shouldn’t have it.

There’s also a jealousy component — Jazz fell in love with Savin and married him, and not Mitchel, who Jazz had known first, longer, and just as intimately.

But in the interrogation scene I’m writing, I’m essentially doing it from Mitchel’s POV. I am deep inside his head; using his syntax and his word choice and just general state of mind. He is in control. He is lethal. He believes he isn’t going to end up charged with anything, though he is under arrest.

And seeing outside of his very narrow view point (me me me) and his own perceptions of himself (I am perfect and great and smarter than the rest of the world) is so difficult, I’m having trouble seeing what will trip him up. Because Amelia will get him to falter. She WILL get that confession. And she WILL secure the ability to indict Mitchel for treason.

But getting it down on paper when I am so deep in Mitchel’s POV is difficult.

I guess this is why I don’t write in first person. It’s hard, working so close to a fictional person’s brain. And I’m not even writing in first! It’s in third! But to write like how he speaks, I have to strip away that extra layer of distance.

Characters, man.

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