Sit, kneel, bend. Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. We gonna be here for a minute.
Last month, we talked about telling the stories of combat veterans as they really happened. Without whitewashing or varnish. Without embellishment. Without lies.
In the third-to-last paragraph, I make mention of sitting down and talking with veterans. Over the last month I’ve been looking around and realizing nobody has ever explained how to talk with veterans, as a writer looking for technical (and personal) knowledge about the profession of arms. Today, we’re gonna start down that rode.
I’ve got a lot of notions, today, but not a whole lot that’s going to coalesce into anything particularly focused. You’ve been warned (I’m so, so sorry). Caer Dave has been in the grips of illness and a distinct change in the weather. Last few days have been glorious, and we’re enjoying the almost-warmth. This has entailed more of Dave-staring-into-space level of writing, rather than Dave-put-words-on-screen writing, and I’m working on flipping the switch from one to the other. The Great Pulp Short Novel Experiment is ongoing, and I’m working hard to bring my mental space into alignment with renewed physical health. Pneumonia sucks. I don’t recommend it. Read more
I’m quite fond of this device, though I admit that in its simplest form (“and then I woke up and it was all a dream”) it has been done to death. No, I didn’t think Agatha Christie was cheating in The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, and I enjoyed the double-impostor twist of Mary Stewart’s The Ivy Tree with its narrator who misleads us delightfully by telling the truth… just, not all the truth. So I was pleased to see a new twist on this in one of the fantasy novels I’ve been reading via Kindle Unlimited, and I’ve made a note of the author for further reading.
In W.B. McKay’s Bound by Faerie the narrator is hired to retrieve a magical artifact. She’s warned in advance:
Today, however, we’d gotten word that Lou was in possession of a heavily enchanted necklace. I hadn’t been given any particulars about its power, just a strict warning not to put it on and a description.
Of course she puts it on – what do you think? It’s part of the rules of the game, isn’t it? Psyche brings in a lamp to gaze on Cupid, Beauty picks up the only remaining spindle in the kingdom, and McKay’s Sophie Morrigan puts on the necklace, part of whose enchantment is the power to lure her into doing exactly that. Read more
Point of View
How many of you here have started something in first person, only to go back and redraft it as third? Or third person redrafted to first?
Or figured out you were in the wrong person’s head, and had to restart in a different head?
“It’s all a question of point of view.”
Back in the dark ages – 1980’s in South Africa the BBC Radio News reported on a labor dispute/picket protest led by the ANC aligned organizers in a fishing town up the West Coast of the Cape. The picket line had been savagely broken up by the police with dogs (the BBC reporter of the time was a passionate promoter of the anti-apartheid cause, and as his media was not within the country could report whatever he liked without any form of censorship.) The local Afrikaans press reported on the incident too. There wasn’t a lot to report on from one horse towns on the West Coast, and the Cape Town Riot squad dispersing a protest with dogs was news, if not big news. The one set of media carried it from their point of view as a bad thing, and the other as a good thing. Read more
What do you do when a new character starts talking to you?
You transcribe, of course, and thank the Muse politely and hope this state of affairs will continue.
However, when the character starts by telling you her name – and it happens to be the name of the Greek Muse of Comedy – don’t be too surprised if she finds it screamingly funny to get you five chapters deep into a story told in first person and then to point out that she didn’t actually witness certain crucial scenes and what are you going to do about that?