Friday, March 18, 2011

POV, of course

Naturally, looking at the ragged draft of "Unearthed," the first thing that seems wrong is the point of view. It's got to pull back more. My tendency is still to ride hard on that limited-omniscient train, sitting on the shoulder of my protagonist. If I'm going to do that, I might as well write in a first-person perspective. So, this revision will entail, among other things, a stronger, more omniscient voice.

I toyed with the possibility of allowing my POV to drift into others' thoughts, including that of "the Old Man," but on further reflection I think that level of intimacy with the "hero" of these stories needs to wait for the final chapter, "Once More." At that point, it'll make sense.

I've read some stories from the Rudolph Fischer collection (see Shelfari's "shelf" to the right); both funny and tragic, the stories excel at capturing voices, and they let us in on the racial hierarchy that exists with black Harlem at the time of its "renaissance."

Last year, for a buck, I picked up at the library sale a volume of Sherlock Holmes stories—all of those that ran in The Strand, which includes The Hound of the Baskervilles—with the original illustrations. I do wish the collection contained A Study in Scarlet and The Sign of Four. I've read (or reread) several tales; in retrospect, it's hard to see why exactly the stories were so popular, because the mysteries aren't terribly good. Holmes, I suppose, is the draw. I appreciate also how, from the beginning, there's this metafictional aspect to the tales, with Holmes's critique of Watson's storytelling, and Watson explaining to his readers why he's chosen to tell us what he has.

I've also been reading Toni Morrison's Beloved, which has contributed to my feeling the thinness of the narrative voice in "Unearthed."

I've also been reading essays, about which more in the next installment.

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