Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Inconvenience of Knowing Everything

And here we are again. I've had a few ideas for that crazy story that democracy has thrust upon me. But before I can get into that, I have to finish my previous project, which was rewriting "My Soul to Take," which some of you may remember as something I started last year. Then I shoved it in a box with its disappointing non-ending, and I left it there until it started to smell a little weird in the back of the closet. Then I took it out, made a valiant attempt at a plot outline/character arc, and waited for it to emerge, fully-formed.

Obvious that's not going to happen.

So I actually, finally, sat down the other day, and started writing. I'm about 800 words in. I have the first two points on my little plot mountain. It's going seemingly well.

But already, trouble lurks.

Not in the seemingly haunted mansion beside the railroad tracks. Although, yes, there also. But more importantly, in the very fiber of the story. The Fates may weave the tapestry, but are they using the right string?

Point of view. That's what I'm talking about, behind all the metaphors.

There are many points of view. I've talked about that before. My default POV is very close. I pick a character, sometimes two, and I follow them around, latched onto the side of their head like a brain slug. This leaves me either in 1st person or limited 3rd person POV. I don't ever really step back and look at the world at large, beyond that character. And that's unfortunate, because sometimes you need to.

If there's information out there that the reader needs to know, but the character doesn't (yet, perhaps), you need an omniscient narrator. Easy, right? The narrator knows everything the author does. They can explain all the things the character doesn't understand. As it says so helpfully in my notes, "Jake doesn't know shit about souls." But that's an important part of the story.

"So write it 3rd omniscient, you fool!" you might say.

And I planned to. But it just… doesn’t happen. And I'm not sure if it's because I'm kind of half-following along the original draft, and it's sucking me into the quagmire of 3rd limited, or if it's just… me.

The problem that I'm having is that most of the tension or whatever in this part of the story is that Jake doesn't know what's going on. When he meets Evie, he first perceives her presence as a potential threat, before learning that she's just a girl. If the narrator is omniscient, they already know that, and they know exactly who she is. And so we should, as readers, be knowing more about her than Jake does. And so while he is perhaps wondering if she has some nefarious purpose, we would already know that she's just a girl. And where would be the suspense? The intrigue?

So I want to reveal the characters and the plot one piece at a time, as you do. And the way I've been doing that is to show things that Jake sees, as he sees them. He sees Evie as blonde and probably between 15 and 20 years old. She has an exact age (I don't know what it is). She has a last name (I keep forgetting what it is). But Jake doesn't know those things, or care, so we don't bring them up. If our narrator was omniscient, wouldn't we know all that? Would he (the narrator, who is male for some reason) bother to tell us? Or would he just drop information on the nature of souls and how to lose them (and then regain them)? Who's to say how much our narrator knows?

You see why I don't write in 3rd omniscient? I get all confused and start getting suspicious of the narrator. What's he up to?

I think what I might need to do is add another arc to my little diagram. Across the hilly top is the events in the plot. The things Jake does. Across the bottom, his internal whatnots. How he feels about things. It seems there needs to be another progression in there, with how much is revealed by our shifty narrator at any given point. I swear that made sense when I started the paragraph. I don't know anymore.

What do you think? What's that narrator up to? Can he be trusted? Should I stop writing my posts at midnight?

I'll see you… Friday.

No comments:

Post a Comment