Friday, August 10, 2012

Looking at looking

Late Wednesday SFSignal published short essays by me and some other writers on viewpoint in genre.  Timmi joined an online discussion of what we'd said, adding:

"I've--more times than I can count--written a second version of a story in first (if the first version was in third) or in third (if the first version was in first)--when unsure of which would best serve the story. It's an illuminating exercise in any case. And sometimes the second version really is the correct one (and brings out different sorts of details that collectively change the reader's affect)."

She rewrites entire stories to make sure she's using the correct viewpoint?  That is some mondo literary muscle.  That is the authorial equivalent of hauling pianos around with your teeth--but much more useful.

 I wish one of those SFSignal essays had been by Timmi.  I bet she would have revealed more surprises and amazements.  And I wish I'd said more in my essay about the choice of narrator, not just about styles of narration.

The story I'm revising today took me twice as long to write as I'd scheduled for it in my calendar.  Midway through the notes I kept during the writing process I recorded serious doubts about my protagonist.  "What does Trill do?" I asked myself.  "What can she do?"  And on another line, "Is this really Dola's story?"

I get into a haze when I write sometimes.  Too much sawdust in the air--I can't see what I've done.  If it's the deadline, though, I turn in what I've got.  The editors read what is actually there on the page--not the lumber of words and phrases I cut and sanded away or discarded before the glue set.  In this case they pronounced what I'd given them whole, a complete instrument.  A story.  One in need of some polish, but all there.

In the discussion after my pov essay got posted I declared that my choice of Trill as the story's pov character had worked because Dola was unconscious for the rape scene, whereas Trill was able to witness and describe it.

But if I'd written the story from Dola's perspective, maybe that scene would have arrived on the page another way?  Or maybe that plot point would have been reached without it?

I'm going to leave this particular piano where it is.  But future ones could get pulled around.  By my teeth, if that's what it takes.

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