Thursday, August 09, 2007


Taking a sense of narration further, with the opening narrator of Second Fist I wanted a sense of dislocation between narrator and narrator's body... as if the body isn't the narrator's, or the narrator feels no emotional connection to the body.

The problem is that I'm now worried about how this reads. The reader might trip over the narrative now as they try to work out why the narrator is describing this relationship. Take this new addition to the chapter:

Fear stared back at me from the vanity mirror. The Oriental eyes of a stranger trapped behind her hair, imprisoned by circumstance. I could still feel her, inside, screaming for the return of the life that had been torn from her. She still clawed at the back of this throat, desperate to have the time back and do it all over. I swallowed her down.

It works, I'm certain, but for the she still clawed at the back of this throat. The this makes a strange ambiguity that is perhaps far too obvious.

I wanted to maintain this difference, since it lends a certain literary quality (yeah right - no I'm serious) to the manner in which Kitty (the narrator) speaks about her body:
Had I any feelings for the womb inside this body I might have felt my misery there also.

But, it dislocates not only the narrator. The reader's flow suffers. Is it too obvious?

Questions on the back a stamped, addressed envelope... or as a comment, thanks.


esruel said...

Here's something I cooked up from your post, Rich. It's not meant as a rewrite for you to follow, rather as an example so you might think of something extra to add to what you've done. In conjunction with anyone else's thoughts, you may have more concrete ideas for improving on your own.

Fear stared back at me with my own eyes from the vanity mirror - the Oriental eyes of someone I no longer recognised, the eyes of a stranger, trapped behind strands of hair that fell like prison-cell bars before her face.
But inside, I felt her still, this prisoner of circumstance, screaming for the return of a life that had been torn from her grasp, her fingers clawing at the back of my throat, desperate to have her time returned to her so she might do it all over again. I managed to swallow her down.

Unsure as to what to do with 'If I had any feelings...' as there was nothing else to compare it to further along.
Hope it helps!

R1X said...

Thanks, Es - you've stepped forward, linking this with the next narrative section in which I specifically say she doesn't recognise herself any more. Funny how these ideas progress isn't it.

I'll mooch on this, thanks again.

solv said...

Amazing writing ricardo. You haven't had trouble with descriptive writing for ages now.
But it's another abstract.
Another one.
From this moment forth, I shall call you ricardo beat-around-the-bush.
What have your tutors told you about focus? What has everyone told you about focus?
You could apply this writing to poetry and create some incredible results.
But too much of this stuff in a novel is wearisome.
You're not gonna woo so many readers with your brilliance; most readers want a ripping yarn.
We can, for sure, secrete themes and subtexts under the veneer of the narrative, but this should be as invisible as possible.
You are visible. Perhaps this classes as author intrusion?

You can write prose with the best of them. But can you hook the reader with your storytelling and hold them for as long as possible ..? Will you allow the reader to hurtle through the pages without stumbling at every abstract thought or aside or inappropriate/unnecessary detail?

But as I said, very accomplished prose.

R1X said...

How do I break from this Solvey? I'm stuck in left-brain thinking and everything I do ends up being described in an abstract manner - so much so that I didn't realise. It's like the first time someone points out adjectives and adverbs... you say: "Where?"

I mean, the purpose of that passage is that literally the former owner of the body Kitty is inhabiting, is still inside and she can feel the remnants of her mind - Kitty has possessed the body's owner, you see?

How else could I say that without giving the game away too early?

esruel said...

Just a thought, Rich. Why do you not want the reader to know? Is this in order that you can create an element of surprise later? Is that the basis of the story - the surprise? Is that strong enough to carry a story? I feel you should inform your readers of this situation at the beginning. The imagery will take on a much stronger meaning, believe me, if they know who, or what, is staring back from the mirror. Nothing at all wrong with what you are putting in - it's what you are leaving out that is the key.

R1X said...

The first chapter is about the play between the two characters - the failing love, the loss of identity between them, and then the shock that they, or at least the man, is prepared to drive the car headlong into a van coming the other way. If the reader knows that the characters are not who they pretend to be, then we lose the surprise.

It's something I want to develop over the next couple of chapters

solv said...

Strikes me that this calls for a show then, and one that is reliant on knowledge (so here your choice of pov is essential).
If I've got this right, this woman is possessed by another woman.
Does the driver know this?
Did he know the woman who possesses his partner?
If he did know her, you can simply have some of her characteristics filtering through, like the way she wrung her hands or something, but this would need to be foreshadowed.
I think this is part of your opening isn't it? So the foreshadowing option isn't available.
The 'fear' is pretty meaningless too without any clues. Fearful of what?
My biggest reservation is that this is not really the time or place for this kind of information. You should concentrate on building up this head-on collision, and then paying it off. You can address the possession thing soon after with a flashback if you want.
I would suggest that you simply worry about crafting a heart-stopping collision here; keep the pace up and the camera close. Afterwards, you'll have a natural point for inserting a respite as the reader's pulse steadies, and during that respite you'll have room for descriptions (including adjectives and one or two abstracts if necessary and similes, etc.).
If you see the narrative in terms of highs and lows, you'll have a better idea of when you should introduce information and when you mustn't.
Hope that helps.

esruel said...

Hmmm, solvey is right about the collision. Simple for you to create a heart-stopping crash, and the conflict, argument, tension leading up to it. I say simple, as there will be little in the way of explanation along the way. The main question seems to be 'What is the rest of the story about?' I don't expect you to discuss that here - I've already said my piece on original ideas - but my main thought is simply that: what is the rest of the story about? The reveal probably will have to come very soon, because if one or both is still alive, then you are going to have to say why, and if it is not the real why then you will be in trouble for lying to your readers. Maybe the very next chapter has to contain this reveal. I don't have enough information to say more than that. As solvey says, the beginning must 'happen'; everything comes after. A lot of thought, a lot of history, explanation, backstory etc needs to be written down by you - not as part of the story, but as a basis for the future writing of it, for you to refer to. I don't think you should write any more until you've done that. Maybe you already have. Sheesh! Me, advocating planning! I'm one of the converted now.

R1X said...

It does help, thanks guys... only... erm... well, I was using the description to serve the afforementioned purpose whilst also showing that the girl is of Oriental persuasion. So that later on the reader doesn't get confused. And seeing as she regards the body in the mirror, and it not being hers, I thought I should develop this line of narrative.

But then, it doesn't have to be like that does it?

Ta muchly.

solv said...

I've had another idea.
As soon as the reader understands that a head-on collision is imminent, you have the opportunity to go into slow motion (for the suspense is set).
You've already established that they're driving fast, which is good but not enough to sow the terrible fate in the reader's mind (I'd suggest that you go for the suspense rather than shock, so don't be coy about letting the reader know that something terrible is about to occur; embrace this idea!).
You'll need another pov to establish this: a third person omniscient would work, or even first person for the driver of the oncoming vehicle.
Once you have the reader on the edge of his seat, only than should you slow down with descriptive or set-up stuff, because only then will this stuff serve to heighten the suspense.