Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Pertinent Descriptions

... at least that's the point I've been ignoring all this time. In Barker's short story In The Hills, The Cities, we have a great example of this. Prior to this excerpt we've had no description of the characters bar their psyche, arguments, and pov:

'I asked you a question,' Judd said again.

Mick looked round. Judd was standing the far side of the car, his brows a knitted line of burgeoning anger. But handsome; oh yes; a face that made women weep with frustration that he was gay. A heavy black moustache (perfectly trimmed) and eyes you could watch forever, and never see the same light in them twice. Why in God's name, thought Mick, does a man as fine as that have to be such an insensitive little shit?
So, opening the paragraph we have where Judd is standing and a brief description of what part of his body is showing us his anger. Next, we have Mick's pov description that Judd is handsome (this begins as a tell - but is qualified). Then we have a straight forward description, but again it's brought back to Mick's pov. We learn what Mick sees in Judd's features. And then we have Mick's thoughts, his weighing up of the situation, of Judd. Which brings us back to character, giving the reader some concrete emotion to link in with, with Mick


esruel said...
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R1X said...

Yes, I agree, Es. I think I'm beginning to pick out the character narratives with the pov changes now too - so often I've read a bit of description that seems a very personal view... and of course! It's the character's view. So, the narrator is less of a separate personality - he is taking up the role of the character (like a ghost I suppose) and gradually moving between characters as the scene changes. What do you think?

Just as Solvey mentioned his overcoming the fear of adverbs, this is surely the next stage of learning - our evolution to come back to the tell, as long as we learn to qualify the statement.

esruel said...

Sorry, Rich, I deleted my comment as I thought I'd missed something and could have said it better (and don't know how to edit comments. Sigh!)
I think the most important words are 'But handsome': the writer intends you to believe that Mick also thought the previous sentence to it, (the car, the angry look etc).
I touched on this when solvey spoke of third person pov and effaced narration. The writer has to be aware that the reader may wonder which bit was the character and which was the writer.
The author, here, saw fit to say 'Mick thought' near the end, but not at the beginning, which caused its own confusion. And he could have used other words to convey Mick's thoughts.