I don’t normally discuss technical aspects of fiction-writing on this blog, because it usually features a more general look at living the creative life. Also because lots of other blogs do address these topics well.
But today I want to address a mix of current trends I haven’t yet seen addressed together. Be warned: this post gets hip-deep into writing technique. If that’s not your bag, I apologize . . . and I have an Artdog “Images of Interest” post coming Saturday, that you may enjoy more.
|Diving deep into character Point of View is a challenge.|
Still with me? Then let’s talk about “deep point of view.” If you’re new to writing or you’re a writer who’s been living in a cave (i.e., not looking at any writing websites, reading any writing books, or talking to other writers) for the last couple of decades, you may ask, “What is deep POV?”
Basically, it’s a contemporary writing trend in which the writer attempts to remove as many “filters” between the reader and the world of the viewpoint character as possible. The goal is to create more immediate, effective, and vivid fiction.
If you aren’t sure what techniques work best, here are Kristen Lamb, Beth Hill, and Susan Dennard, with helpful guidance.
|Grappling with how to improve my own fiction.|
If you do know what I’m talking about, then you’re probably a writer who’s been grappling with questions of how best to manage deep POV in your own fiction.
But how deep is “deep enough”? Will third-person be immediate enough, or does it need to be first-person? Not necessarily.
Is “narrative past tense” immediate enough, or should it be written in the present tense? Again, that depends.
What about first-person present tense? Is THAT “immediate” enough?
What? A story—heck, a novel written in first-person present tense? Could that work?
Well, some writers actually are making it work.
|Linda Castillo makes first-person-present-tense work for her.|
I just finished reading the first three novels of LindaCastillo’s “Amish” mysteries, set in Ohio’s Amish country. Not all of her viewpoints are written in first-person-present-tense, but in the viewpoint of her protagonist Police Chief Kate Burkholder, she uses it to surprisingly good effect. It’s not for everyone, but it’s a potential tool in the kit. Gimmick? Hmm. Time will tell.
But wait! There’s more. Today’s post was sparked by an article, “Reader is My Copilot,” in the most recent Writer’s Digest (Yes, it’s July as I write this, but the cover date is September 2015. Ah, publishing!).
|Marie Lamba, author and agent|
In the article, author and literary agent Marie Lamba outlines tips for bringing the reader in on the creation process. As she puts it: “Readers have in their minds a seemingly endless library of common images and related sensory memories . . . . Common images and impressions should be an important part of your writer’s toolkit.”
Then she goes on to encourage writers to use strategic but minimal description to activate those impressions in readers’ minds, and then get out of their way.
In other words, don’t overwrite. Instead, let readers visualize their own setting, character, etc., for optimal vividness and immediacy. Since it’s WD, she outlines the technique and gives illustrative examples to help clarify what she means.
Have we now reached the “event horizon” of just how deep and immediate written prose fiction can possibly get? Are these concepts of immediacy and deep POV bringing us techniques for the ages—or are they the passing fads of the moment, that will identify for future literary scholars, “Ah, this was written in the early twenty-first century”?
|How engaged are YOUR readers?|
Depends on how well it serves the reader’s engagement in the story—and on how many authors can get it to work for them. Stay tuned.
IMAGES: I am grateful to all of the following!
The underwater cave photo shows "Diving at Mount Gambier, South Australia," on the Moray Dive Gear website’s blog post “21 Spectacularly Beautiful Underwater Caves to Scuba Dive.”
The image of my hand on the keyboard of my computer was taken by me, using my other hand to clumsily wield my iPhone.
The images of the first three books in the Linda Castillo "Amish crime thriller series" are from Castillo's website.
The photo of Marie Lamba is from her website's "About" page.
And the visual pun of the engaged couple engaged in their reading is from Meg Perotti’s blog—announcing the engagement of her friends Rosemary and Chris, who appear to be quite the bibliophiles (and we wish them all the best!).