July 9, 2007

Writing photo contest

This is my entry into the Write Stuff Writing Photo Contest.

Here is me hard at work avoiding actual writing by posting a comment on Nathan Bransford's blog. The subject was POV: first or third? (How come everyone always forgets second? It's like the forgotten middle child.) Here is my comment, in its entirety:
John said, "I think first person is easier to write... but it's really difficult to write first person well-- to pull it off, harder I think than third." And SSaS said, "Surprising how much bad writing I've found in my first person work. It hides many ills."

I agree entirely. Lazy writing manifests differently, but I think first person hides it with more cunning. E.g., in first person it can be more difficult to show rather than tell. When we're angry, we think to ourselves, "That guy made me mad." And it seems natural to write what we'd think. Adding swear words ("that @#$! guy") may be more realistic here, but it dilutes the telling even more. Better would be something like, "I wished I'd had Gramps' old hand grenade to lob into that guy's car."

Laziness is laziness, and it can happen in any POV, but "The bad driver made John angry" is much easier to highlight than "Oh, I was so mad." (Or so say I. YMMV.)

Regarding Huck Finn: A perfect example of masterful first person. Not only does it have the strong dialect, but it's got incredible voice. Well, what do you think? --that muleheaded old fool wouldn't give in then! Indeed he wouldn't. Said it warn't no fair test.... And so he warmed up and went warbling and warbling right along til he was actuly beginning to believe what he was saying....

Third person POV would have to have a strongly voiced, independent narrator to accomplish that kind of impact. Which, of course, is exactly what Nathan is talking about. Here we get Huck's perspective on the exchange rather than an outside observer's perspective, complete with his own interpretation of something he doesn't understand.

Which is all academic, though, because it comes down to the way you want your reader to interact (or not) with the story, the characters, and the scenes.

Normally I hate the POV wars (it reminds me so much of the Windows versus OS/2 days!), but this post and the comments made me think in a different way about it. Thanks.
My typical writing spot is in my office where I also do my telecommuting for my Day Job. That's my comfy chair, and I usually wear my hat (sometimes backwards, aren't I a rebel? bet you didn't know I actually have a tattoo, too). When I'm in the city, I write at a cafe near work on a plaza where a lot of people walk by on sunny days.

Unfortunately, my wife has yet to master the subtleties of our cell phone camera. That's why it has the grainy, amateur quality of your typical Sasquatch sighting.

4 comments:

Write From Karen said...

"your typical Sasquatch sighting" ... LOL!! That is hilarious!

I never thought about posting a picture of myself blogging, or discussing the art of writing - what a GREAT idea!

Very nice entry, pjd. THANKS for playing!

writtenwyrdd said...

Good thoughts. Thanks for sharing. Next time, take off the hat, lol! These days, it seems like you are a rebel if you don't have a tattoo or multiple piercings.

Tammi said...

I love the grainy quality of the photo. that's exactly how all of my cell phone pics turn out:)

Nice job:) Ironically, I have the pic I want to use for this. I just don't have the words chosen yet.

Janine @ Moving Mama said...

I NEED a laptop. I am chained to the desk to write - - no comfy chair for me.

I like seeing where everyone writes their Write Stuff...