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bear by san

March 2017



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bear by san

I have reached the portion of the cold where my body attempts to expel the foreign matter clogging its various cavities and interfaces as aggressively as possible. Dear netcurmudgeon and ashacat, do not expect me at archery tonight.

We will all be happier if I stay home on the sofa with the aliens in my lungs today.

There are a bunch of new people (that I'm aware of) watching this blog. I just want to say Hi, and feel free to introduce yourselves and join the discussion. I do not generally friend people back, and I cannot possibly answer all comments. This is not reflection on you; it has far more to do with the limits of my ability to manage information and time.

I should note that I talk about writing a lot in this blog. I can only talk about my experience and how it works for me, and part of that experience is that the whole process is quite slippery and subjective and works very like a Zen koan; part of writing, for me, is the ability to hold mutually contradictory ideas in one's head all at the same time. Also, it's a series of approximations, and there are always exceptions. And people will disagree. (So far this week I have disagreed with a lot of people who are better writers than I am. I expect in six months I will come to understand how I am wrong-headed.) 

There are no rules; there is only what works.

I've been thinking about POV. Specifically, writing books from a single limited POV (first or third--or even second, I suppose), and how it restricts the narrative. It shifts the focus from what happens, and why it happens, and how it happens, to who it happens to. That's very interesting, that is. It's also kind of necessarily a more subjective experience, reading and writing, because there's less opportunity to question or undermine the narrative as it's presented to the reader and as it occurs to the character. You get the point of view without parallax.

That's something I would not have understood before I learned how to write in omniscient.

Thank a random deity, while the epiphanies keep coming, they are about smaller and smaller details of craft these days. I think that means the learning parabola has hit a point of diminishing marginal returns.

I hope I shall keep getting better at this gig. I also am not upset to be apparently getting better at it more slowly than before.


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I've been thinking about POV. Specifically, writing books from a single limited POV (first or third--or even second, I suppose), and how it restricts the narrative. It shifts the focus from what happens, and why it happens, and how it happens, to who it happens to.

Hey, you're kibbitzing on my next unwritten main blog entry!
railroading time?

It's because I am rewriting an old 1st person draft into multiple third.... and learning why it works better in six perspectives than in one....
I've got one story in second--"The Chains that you Refuse," in fact, which is in second person future perfect, because it is a story about the Cassandra Problem, as it were--and I can think of a couple that I think do it well. Tom Robbins' Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas, and Hannah Wolf Bowen's "Among the Cedars."

But it's stunt writing, definitely.

Totally agree with you about the limitations of writing in first. It can be used to very good advantage. But boy, it's a complicated, oblique way of telling a story if you're writing anything plottier than a character arc.
In case I didn't introduce myself before: hello! (Met you v briefly in the Green Room at Concussion, have been reading your LJ for some time, am especially interested in the talking-about-writing posts as it keeps me thinking instead of simply churning things out in splendid isolation.)

I used to assume that first-person was a more powerful POV, what with complete and certain knowledge of character's experience. Now I'm beginning to think that a third-person perspective is better for revealing aspects of the character's behaviour that they may not be aware of. Also, much more fun to be judgemental.
quick addition: do you think second-person voice implies a first-person voice, even if that voice doesn't appear in the work?
(Was quite surprised to find myself writing second-person narrative in writing workshop. Then first-person crept in. Am still not sure what I meant by 'I' in that story.)
I adore reading single limited POV. I think the book that taught me most about it was Suzy McKee Charnas' VAMPIRE TAPESTRY, which is a collection of four pieces in different povs.
I keep having to rewrite 1-POV books into multi-POV, because they are broken in single POV.

On the other hand, both books I've written with Sarah are single POV, one third and one first. And they work that way.

I think my own internal story-generating machine is not linear enough to make a single POV novel very easy. There's always so much going on in the world that the viewpoint character doesn't know.
Oddly enough . . . I'm a friend of silme and luis_mw and saw them on their stateside trip; they mentioned their housesitter so I was curious to read your account of your stay there (and bonding with Abby). Found it very interesting and was thinking of adding you to my reading list; accordingly am going ahead!

Hi! And a pleasure to meet you!
It totally is. And that sounds like a sound choice for that narrative.

I seem to often wind up with this thing where a lot of the action seems arbitrary when it's presented from one POV, because the single character just doesn't see enough of the playing field. So I start with one POV and keep having to add people until a balance is found.

Which is, alas, less commercial, in genre, than single-POV books.
Feel better soon -- offer of chicken soup delivery still stands (although my car is Not Okay's for After-Dark Driving until repairs are done, alas).

I tend to stay out of POV discussions because my opinion as Editor is different from my opinion as Writer, and I try not to let those two squabble in public. *grin* But the rule I remember from my college lit-writing days was "the story knows what it needs."

Oh, if *only* my stories knew what they needed. I'd do a lot less fucking rewriting.

The first hundred pages of any book I write are endless reshuffling until I figure out what the footprint of the thing is going to be like. :-P

I hope I shall keep getting better at this gig. I also am not upset to be apparently getting better at it more slowly than before.

Do you find, tho, that now you are published that it puts more pressure on you to do better? Does having deadlines force you to write when perhaps you wouldn't? Most of us fiddle around for years trying to get that first novel published, and then all of a sudden we're professionals (Not me, I'm still working on it) but I did wonder. I guess getting that accolade gives one more confidence, until you receive a slamming review.

Hmm, thinking about it. Writers are going to write, whatever, but I guess the career aspect of it gives us more opportunity to do so instead of having to fit it in with everything else. I'm not sure, which is why I'm waffling. :)
The having to fit it in with everything else part?

Never goes away. If anything, the demands on your time get heavier.
The leisurely wander past turnips and cheese wheels... the lingering lunch... the late-evening proposal in a hush of trophies... have you forgotten it all so soon?

(Sorry. Couldn't resist. Especially when it's all true! It was lovely to meet you last week.)
Hi - I was looking at friends' friends pages the other day, and was inspired to add you by your consecutive posts on Eastercon/Patricia Cornwell, and the Nigerian 419 message from the Master. Hope to meet in real life at some point.
Nice to meet you! Enjoy the canapes!
If you're not falling off, you're not riding hard enough.

Yes, and I disagree with her base assumptions categorically. *g*

She writes it really pretty, though.
Hello. I'm an OWW alumna, read your stuff, and we have friends in common. I enjoy your posts (and your icons).
Okay, the clogged up interfaces? I'm totally with you. Trying to fix wiring semi-neatly to crumbling plaster while dripping is so not fun. :-( Typically, it's getting to the shortness of breath stage just as I have to go back to work. Sympathies, empathies and I hope we both feel better soon.
amen. :-P
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