Friday, October 29, 2010

The Heat is On

Did the title of this post just bring back memories of Huey Lewis & The News?  It did for me.

In other news, my draft for the Fiction Techniques class workshop is due next week.  I have to decide what to turn in.  After mucho revision and editing, I managed to whip an old short story into shape using some of the techniques we learned in class.  I've workshopped this piece before in another workshop (non-grad school related), and it got some really good feedback.  It's even stronger now, in my opinion.  Maybe even ready for some submissions.

I was working on another piece throughout the last few weeks, the one I spoke about in my previous POV post.  I wrote half of it in the 2nd person from the mother's POV, then turned around and rewrote it all from the daughter's POV, also in the 2nd person.  The draft I ended up finishing was from the daughter's POV.  It came out rather long, at about 6,500 words.  I was trying to keep it under 5,000, but I'm a little wordy at times.  I hacked off a good bit, bringing it down to about 5,250, merely by removing any backstory I thought was not absolutely crucial, and taking out any internal dialogue that didn't advance the plot (ah, plot--the bane of my existence!).  I just went through it again on a printed draft and hacked away a bunch more while expanding some other sections.  No word count yet, but it's probably just under 5k now.

What to do, what to do?  I can submit my first person work that's already been workshopped and get normal feedback, or I can submit my second person present tense work and suffer though workshop comments that begin with phrases, "I like this, but..."  BUT it's in second person.  BUT there are too many sentences that begin with "you".  BUT I don't like being forced to occupy the same space as your main character.  BUT I just don't like things that are written in the present tense.

BUT does it work?

This I need to know... and for that reason, I will probably go with the 2nd person piece.

Does it matter?  The short story will probably be summarily rejected by every literary journal in the country simply because it's written in the 2nd person.

C'est la vie.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Playing with Point of View

I'm typically a 1st person POVist.  I've tried 3rd person in varying types on a number of works and have only found one that it works with.  Considering I have probably four finished works and ten or so going, I guess that's saying something.  Sometimes I write in 1st present, but mostly in 1st past.

On a lark, I gave 2nd person a shot.

I know, I know... it's like the kiss of death for writers.  We're not supposed to use it, right?  It's so avant-garde.  It's so strange and odd that it's all anyone can ever say about your work.  So why use it to begin with?

We were discussing this in class last night, and the idea is that it's the closest you can get your reader to your character.  I had written an exercise due last night in 2nd person just to try it out, and while I wasn't totally impressed with it, it wasn't bad either (or at least I didn't think so).

So I'm working on the exercise for next week, which is to write anything for at least ten minutes a day.  I'm also trying to work on my class project, which I think is going to be a short story idea that I came up with.  It's about a manic-depressive mother who has a young daughter (age is not yet fixed, but around 6-8 years of age).  I wanted to write it from the 1st person perspective of the daughter, which is tough because of the age, but I wasn't sure it would work.  There's a lot that will happen to the mother that the daughter won't know or necessarily see--so unless I employ some fancy footwork to get her to know about it, I'll need to stick to the mother's POV.  I didn't want to write it in third, because, well, I really suck at 3rd person.  So I thought I would use this week's exercises as a chance to write different scenes from different perspectives--and perhaps even the same scenes to see the difference.

I wrote the opening scene this morning from a 2nd person POV in the mother's perspective.  I tried to start it in third, then switched to first, and then decided second--all before I had written the first sentence.  So my thoughts on this? 


In the opening scene, the mother is manic.  All her actions are crazy, exaggerated, sweeping, and huge.  In the 2nd person POV, (in my opinion, anyway) the scene is so strong it borders on complete insanity.  I'll have to give it to someone to read, because I know that the writer reads it differently than the reader--but just in writing that scene, coming out of the head of that character was mentally exhausting.  I was completely spent, and actually felt a little crazy myself.  It was a fun exercise, but I'm not sure the entire short story will end up in the 2nd person POV.  I've got a long way to go on this before it's done.