I just finished reading Eclipse by Stephanie Meyer, and hoo boy, can that woman write a page-turner! I'm pretty sure I'll be useless for the rest of the day, what with the sleep-deprivation and tired eyes, and a little part inside of me wonders whether I would have been able to stretch out my enjoyment if I'd only paced myself over the course of a week instead of indulging in a marathon page-devouring session. But I think overall, it was worth it. Besides, I would have been unbearable to be around socially in the meantime, always impatient to slip away and read a few more chapters. =)
Of course, after I had taken the requisite time to "be human" after finishing Eclipse by eating, showering, etc., I began to reflect on what makes her writing so enjoyable. Meyer has a perfect grasp of compelling romance - ecstatic, unbelievable happiness entwined inextricably with a longing so powerful it threatens to break apart a person's insides. It is simultaneously satisfying and painful to read, perhaps satisfying because it is a painful, and truthful, depiction of the most desperate, devoted kind of love. Love as a drug seems the most apt analogy, which Meyer's heroine (aka Edward's heroin - ha!) empathizes with only too well.
I wonder how much of the novel's success, or indeed that of any in the Twilight series, has to do with her choice to write in the first person. I certainly felt connected with the main character Bella, and although she is very different from me, I cared about her and was able to understand her motivations. I think part of that was Meyer's set-up of Bella as an ordinary girl living in (initially) ordinary circumstances. It's a common enough formula in modern literature, and it makes the writer's job of creating a character to which readers can relate so much easier than one coming from a vastly different background.
The main character in the story I am working on is almost the complete opposite of Bella, situation-wise. I know my fabulous test readers have struggled to relate to her, and I admit that I've been struggling myself. Now I'm wondering whether switching to the first person would help with that problem. Normally, I'm more comfortable writing in third person, or even second person. First person feels a bit introspective and self-indulgent to me, which is probably why I don't blog as often as I might! A blog in third person would probably strike people as a bit pretentious. =) But for developing a main character, it's hard to beat a first-person perspective. The writer can reveal the character's inner world as well as his or her unique view of reality. When you get to know someone that intimately, it's hard not to relate just a little, no matter how disparate the backgrounds between character and reader.
So, after all that introspective and self-indulgent blathering, I think I will try a little experiment and rewrite a chapter of my story in first person. It's already in extremely close third-person perspective, so it probably won't be much of a stretch, and regardless of the ultimate decision, it should be a beneficial exercise. Besides, as is often said, you never know if it works until you try it.