Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Direct vs Indirect Perspective

Okay, I’m back. The test is over and I can write freely again. I’m a solid 8K behind now, but moving forward again, which is always good. I also had a fantasmic night of writing last night, getting through a scene I was stuck on and accomplishing a whopping 3500 words overall. Not bad considering I like the fight scenes that I got to write. I’m currently at 22K and in the middle of Chapter 7.

My current challenge is trying to figure out how to explain a change that happens within the main character given that it’s a first person narrator. Like, he’s one way, then switches to another, then back to the original way (mostly).

Now obviously, since the story is in past tense (he walked, they stabbed, we laughed) the expectation is that the MC is telling the story to you after its all done happening. Given that, he’d have the perspective to say “I was off my rocker” or something to that effect, but I don’t feel that a direct explanation like that fits within my story smoothly.

It’s sort of a camera angle problem for me. Like in the commercials where the spokesperson is speaking to someone just over the shoulder of the cameraman rather than speaking directly into the camera. Switching between the two seems disruptive and a bit disorienting to me. Have any of you noticed that or am I just being finicky?

Off to sleep. Have a spifferific day!


Lady Glamis said...

Not sure about your question. I am interested to know if this line in your post has anything to do with your story, though:

(he walked, they stabbed, we laughed)

That's interesting string of events, if it does. :)

Moving on, though. I don't think past tense necessarily means that everything has happened. It's just a tense-usage. I personally hate present-tense. It's really distracting to me. So past tense works the best for me.

Perhaps you can have him thinking, "Something felt different, the way such-and-such shifted inside my head, or such-and-such suddenly looked different to me . . ."

See where I'm going? If I'm making no sense, feel free to ignore.

But I don't think you should use the "I was off my rocker" because it's passive.

Uh, let me know if you need to bounce ideas off me. :) I'm available to email or chat, if you need.

Anette J Kres said...

Lady Glamis,

No, that string of examples isn't actually from my story. I didn't even connect them until you pointed it out and you're right. It does make for an interesting, if sadistic scene.

I personally find present tense perspective distracting too. The only story I actually liked that used it was Sirena by Napoli.

Thanks for the suggestion on how to show his change in thoughts. I'm still bouncing between whether to say he notices the change or have the reader just figure it out (since in the moment, we don't always see a change in ourselves. You know?)

I think its really a question of how long ago the story happened before the narrator tells it. If it was journal entry format, the MC almost certainly wouldn't recognize changes as well as he would if he were reflecting from, say, five years after the fact.