Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Who is telling the story?

There are all kinds of ways for writers to waste time once they're sitting down at their desks intending to write. Some people ogle stationery online, some check Twitter for the latest example of the BBC distorting the news by 'mistakes' in editing footage, and some delay starting their novel - which they have already peopled and plotted - by dithering over what voice to use. 

I am guilty of the last two of these. I don't need to ogle stationery because I know what I like: UNI BALL EYE MICRO UB-150 ROLLERBALL PEN BLACK, and LEUCHTTURM1917 (348101) Notebook Medium (A5), Hardcover, 251 Numbered Pages, Ruled.

It's the indecision on voice which is currently bugging me. I've so far written novels in the first person and the third person. I've always disdained omniscient narration, where the reader is aware there is someone outside the story who knows everything about the characters and events in the story, and sometimes makes comments.  I generally don't like reading this kind of book because it breaks, for me, the fictive dream. I want to feel myself inside the story, sharing the feelings of the character, or characters, if there are multiple viewpoints. 

It's the same reason I prefer the cinema to the theatre. At the theatre I am aware I am sitting in an audience watching something on a stage. It obviously can't be real. In a cinema, I'm sitting in the dark, and in good cinemas, where people know how to behave (she said snootily) I can be unaware of the rest of the audience. I can be immersed completely in the action and emotions of the people on the screen. I frequently cry in the cinema but don't think I ever have at the theatre.

My first published novel, Plotting or Beginners, was written in the first person, and so was the sequel, Plotting for Grown-ups. I thought that was all I could manage when I first began to write. Now I've mastered the third person, but in the new book there are four characters and I am dithering over whether to have one of them write in the first person, and the other three stories to be in the third. 

This has been my excuse for delay. So this week I tried to break the deadlock by writing some dialogue from some of the scenes I've planned, so it is stripped of all description and thus point of view, and reads like a play. It's a dubious ploy but it has revealed to me some completely new information about the characters. e.g. I didn't know that Josie thinks reading fiction is a waste of time, and I didn't know she doesn't care a jot for clothes and fashion. 

This cannot go on - either the blog post (because I have to get up and have breakfast and cut Dave's hair) - or the stripped back dialogue writing. I've got to get on with the job of setting the scene and telling the story. I hope to manage that today.

p.s. I just discovered that you can rate a book on Amazon without writing a review: someone new has given BUT I TOLD YOU LAST YEAR THAT I LOVED YOU   5 stars. 
This is a prompt for all those people who enjoyed my books and can't face writing a review. So....

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