You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘perspective’ tag.
The Most Important Thing About Revision?
Absolute honesty with yourself.
Know when you are settling for a good enough because you can’t come up with something better.
Good enough is great as a place holder when drafting, but when revising everything should be your best.
No settling, no ho-hum scenes, no walking the dog, no boring moments. None.
I’m taking a final pass through the manuscript I just spent 3.5 weeks editing. I did the editing at a 20 pages/day rate. I’m looking at this revision in 100 page increments.
What a difference.
I see my repetitiveness. I see when things aren’t advancing. I see where I lose interest.
None of this is acceptable. All of it needs to be addressed.
But it’s only by admitting to myself what I don’t like and when something doesn’t settle right that I can begin to push my book toward it’s very best incarnation.
When I read this quote at the Peabody Essex Museum, it resonated with me. I snapped a pic and filed it away.
Fast forward to a few weeks later…
I had to listen to a friend tell me how innocent they were of any wrong doing. They insisted on their having done nothing. I gritted my teeth. Because I had seen what they termed nothing. Had it done to me before. And I kept asking myself is this person lying to me or herself? I mean does she seriously believe the shit she is saying to me? Because I don’t.
Here’s where things get dicey. Perception is very subjective. Seeing yourself clearly takes years of practice. So I get why she doesn’t. And I know better than to hold a mirror up to someone. I’ve been gutted as the messenger time and time again. But the frustration of listening to this got to me.
Why can’t people see themselves clearly? And why do they have to insist that other people buy into their perception? I mean, if you’re right do you race through the streets proclaiming it? I don’t. And I don’t look for others to validate it.
Then another person comes to me and tells me their opinion of their parent. He states everything as fact “My father ruined our lives” rather than “I think…” As if his thoughts are the final judge of reality. Guess what? It’s just your opinion. You can spin facts however you want. Doesn’t make it the absolute truth. It’s just your version of the truth.
Again, I bit my tongue. I try not to interfere in people’s lives. But when I’m completely off-base, I look to my friends to tactfully steer me back on course or at least present another viewpoint. But I get the feeling these people don’t want any input. They want yes men, which I am not.
So here’s my question, how do you deal with someone lying to you and themself? Do you grit your teeth and listen, secretly thinking how off-base the person is? Or do you speak up and tell them how you see things?
I just finished A.S. King’s book Please Ignore Vera Dietz. It broke my heart. Completely ripped it apart. And I loved it.
Her writing made it impossible to put down. The prologue sucked me in with these lines:
To say my friend died is one thing.
To say my friend screwed me over and then died five months later is another.
The book opens with 18-year-old Vera Dietz at the funeral of her former best friend, Charlie. The book details key moments from the year after his death (when his ghost haunts her) and flashes back to their decade-plus-long friendship. As a reader you unravel the mystery of what happened to destroy the most important friendship in both their lives and what lead to his premature death.
A.S. King does a magnificent job melding the past and the present for these characters. Her POV shifts and time shifts are seamlessly interwoven. I cannot imagine the story told another way. I devoured each page waiting to find out more.
She captured the teen voice with such authenticity. All the secondary characters are 3-D and you can’t help flashing back to your own high school experience and remembering that guy or girl.
The book takes the reader through the traps of adolescence (underage drinking, drugs, sex) and doesn’t shy away from showing the real consequences.
Both Vera and the reader emerge with a new perspective on things. I’m so glad I took this journey with Vera!
If you only read one more book in 2010, make sure it’s this one.
Thank you A.S. King.
Today, I woke up with a greater appreciation of the Now. I only have two weeks left at my company. And suddenly the morning commute isn’t something I dread. I think whenever there’s an end in sight you can appreciate the now. In a weird way, I feel like a huge weight had been lifted off my chest. Suddenly, my whole world is wide open again.
This summer may be the best summer my life. I get to spend time with the people I love, to devote hours of every day to writing, to read to my hearts content, and suddenly a restructuring turned into a dream come true. Maybe, I’m just looking on the bright side.
Because the loss of income, frankly, sucks. I’m also going to miss some of my coworkers. Three years is a long time to spend with people. Finding a new job in this economy–not going to be easy. Probably going to have to give up my apartment in Manhattan this fall. So there you have it, those of the negatives.
Strolling up Wall Street, something I’ve done a million times, takes on new meaning. Everything feels more important that it did a few days ago. The funny thing is you never ever appreciate what you have until you’re in danger of losing it. But you also find out who your true friends are. And I owe a huge thanks to: Brett, my dad, my mom, Oliver, Zach, and Lily for being there, listening, and helping me see that everything could be okay.
Tell me about your experiences that gave you a new appreciation for the Now…
As I develop characters and decide on who is the protagonist and antagonist in my story, I realize real life is not nearly that simple. Sure in my life story I’m the protagonist. But in someone else’s story, I may be the antagonist.
Many times, I’ve been the sidekick. Even, an ancillary character that fills in the background. And the character I portray in other people’s lives is very different from the character I am in my own story.
Which randomly brings to mind this Klimt painting. Each character is drawn relative to the other. If you remove one, the others lose their positions. And I think that is what makes storytelling so interesting. Everyone’s role is defined by the others. Remove one person from the picture and everything shifts.
What got me thinking so deeply about this? My online Writer’s Digest class. We had to describe our protagonist and antagonist and what motivates them. To me as the unbiased third-party story-teller, I am privy to all the facts and circumstances of their lives (or at least I like to think I am). It allows me to determine what role they play in the novel I am writing.
But then I have to delve into what roles they play among the other characters. And that is where things get convoluted. I have a heroine, who some view as a spoiled manipulative man-eater, while others see her as someone who put her friends first and suffers mightily for it. Same character, different perspectives. She is all these things. And that’s why I love writing her.
And I started wondering…hmmm in my own life…I’m sure I’ve been the antagonist in several people’s stories. I’m sure I’ve been good and bad and everything in between. And I started to wonder how I play out in other people’s stories. Which got me wondering, does anyone see themselves as the antagonist? Or do we all cast ourselves as protagonists in our own minds? Even when we may very well be the antagonist in many situations?
One of the biggest problems I’ve had with my manuscript is point of view (POV). Originally, I started with multiple points of view. Then I encountered head hopping, where I would jump amongst perspectives in one scene. It was BAD. So I revised to limited multiple POV with 5 main characters. Still disjointed.
I moved to 2 main character POV. Then I realized the characters didn’t feel real enough. So I switched to first person. And that’s when my characters became life-like. I had to remember everything told from the “I” point of view was necessarily skewed by the character’s perspective. If she said someone was mean, it didn’t make it true. Ah nuances. Fun. Then came the hard part: revealing characters other sides without the protagonist necessarily changing her opinion even if the reader might.
I’ve heard that third person POV is the most popular now, but for me, I love first person. I love immersing myself in that character even when she interprets things wrong. I love the challenge of bringing other characters to life by their actions and interactions with the protagonist.
I thank my lucky stars that I experimented with POV in the same story, it was an invaluable learning experience, forcing me to retell the story. It restructured my novel. At first, I worried I’d lose the flavor of each character, but I think when done carefully first person POV still gives you a cast of living breathing supporting characters.
What do you think? Do you write in third person or first person? Do you have multiple points of view, only one, or a limited number? What works best for you and why?