SYMBOLIC: ADVENTURES IN TEXT
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February 11, 2005
113: Knot Chasing
I'm having arguments with myself about narrative voice, internal discussions which, funnily enough, mirror the confusion of the text. Do I tell the BOOK OF LIES in the first person voice or third? First allows for a level of intimacy (at least for the main character) that permanently colors the work and, since I am skewing reality, this personalized approach allows me to accomplish some world view effects that are more difficult in third person omniscient (without identifying the existence of an omniscient narrative voice). Third allows me to show you what the other kids are doing without having to resort to some extreme measures of information sharing that, for the most part, are egregious and overbearing.
Frankly, I like first person viewpoint. It's easier for me, allowing me to adopt a slightly flippant narrative voice that would otherwise seem strange when applied to an omniscient viewpoint. I'm sure this is just a shortcoming of my writing style and one that I will eventually overcome, but for now, 1st POV is where I'd rather be. In the case of the BOOK OF LIES, it means that the back story is the mystery that our hero is trying to ascertain. What and Who are the unknown quantities throughout the story and, ultimately, what drives the narration is the desire to find out the Who and the What -- they are, in some ways, more important than the main character thread.
In some ways. If you go too far to that extreme, you end up in Law & Order territory where the audience is never allowed to see any background on the characters and it's all about solving the mystery. The characters that drive the piece become faceless creatures with inquisitive noses and blank mouths that spit out data that furthers the plot. We never get to care about them and we never get to know them. Or, your main character becomes so twisted up in his own psychological issues that solving the mystery isn't so much an impetus as is working out his issues.
These are the traps I wish to avoid, naturally, and not necessarily the end result of any such POV decisions, mind you. I'm not sure why I get getting wrapped up in the perceived angst of the characters and don't just focus on the task at hand. Ah, becaus that is plot and I generally don't like plot. Silly, isn't it?
This story begins at the end of WWII when Georges Maratre learns something that he shouldn't. It's a critical element to understanding how the underlying secret of the BOOK OF LIES unfolds and it isn't necessary to detail exactly what this moment in Paris is all about. But it is there. The question is: how to present it? Is is a footnote to the adventure unfolding in the present or is it an event that I want to capture for the readers? It's an important knot in the connective thread, but there are others as well. If I keep it as a knot and not as a final end point, then the question to ask is: where does this thread go? And Who or What is at either end?
Posted by Teppo at February 11, 2005 08:50 AM