it's a great life, if you don't weaken (matociquala) wrote,
it's a great life, if you don't weaken

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You'll never live long enough to undo everything they did to you.

truepenny has some good comments here on the value, or lack thereof, of keeping secrets in narrative.

This is something I am relearning myself with this revision of All the Windwracked Stars, which mugged me again last night with another character bit I could cheerfully have gone to my grave without knowing. It may be about to kick The Sea thy Mistress off the top of the pile as the smuttiest book I have ever written, which is saying something. And it's certainly all quite tweaked.

...can't wait for the speculation about my sex life after this one hits print, she said, and made an emoticon face. ( :-P , :-\ )

But the first draft of this one--okay, like the first ten drafts--were first-person, single-narrator. In the immortal words of L.L. Cool J., "This is a mistake." Or, it seems to be a mistake for me, mostly--though I love first person narrative, done well, I keep having to go back and stick in more POV, because I tend to write these books that are not easily confined to a single narrative thread, or possibly because I suck at limiting my perspective. Anyway, whenever I write a single-narrator book, it seems like three fourths of the actual book winds up in the margins and gutters, and I wind up keeping secrets from the reader.

Anyway, by giving Mingan and Cathoair and Selene and Kasimir POV in the revision, stuff has already come out in the first seventy pages of this draft that didn't appear until oh, a hundred pages into the third book in the first version of the not-a-trilogy. (Collectively called "The Edda of Burdens," it's three books that tell the stories of three somewhat immortal persons over the course of about 2500 years.)

Specifically, because Muire didn't want to talk about a bunch of stuff that she knew or suspected had happened, it was only hinted at in the first book. Actions in the second book revealed some of the consequences of choices in the first and third books, and also illuminated some of the things Muire was maybe not being entirely forthcoming about in the first book. (And writing an unreliable narrator who *cannot lie* but who is self-deluding is a difficult task, let me tell you.) And then in the third book, both the origins and the results of the conflict were revealed.

It was kind of cool, and somewhat over-ambitious to my skills. And I kept a *lot* of secrets. Mostly because my first-person narrator didn't know or wasn't telling some things. But now I've got her in third person, and she's got help, and... it's hard to hide what Mingan is up to when Mingan has POV.

So I'm being forced to deal honestly with what he wants and what he's willing to do to get it, and how badly he's willing to hurt himself in the process. Also, I think I mentioned earlier that this means I no longer get to elide the furry!sex, because both characters involved now have POV.


Also, I mean, we all knew Cathoair got laid WAY TOO MUCH, even when it was only the fringes of his sex life that Muire was catching on to by osmosis. Now that I'm actually writing him, I'm shocked he has time to eat.

What's challenging is that I don't want to lose the coolest thing about the initial structure, which was the way each book shadowed and illuminated and ironicized the other two, like three light sources rotating around a textured object. And it worked, more or less.

I'm going to try to pull it off again. This time, without withholding information.
Tags: navel gazing, writing craft wank

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