June 29th

Rules for Writing Again. The Point of View question.

I prefer to write in the past tense using a third person narrator. But I enjoy reading first person narratives. My recollection of reading and marking children’s creative writing is that they like the present tense too. But the problem is maintaining it. I think that this is where the short story format is useful. You can commit yourself to a particular point of view, for a short exercise, and if you don’t like it, you can ditch it / revise it / put to one side for as long as you like. I know that is true for any piece, but the novel is such a huge commitment that I don’t want to get it wrong as a new creator.

Of course the limitations of first person narratives are well known. When I was considering the question for my historical novel, I concluded that despite its sense of immediacy, there would have to be places where a careful digression was needed to explain the hero’s circumstances and the context of the action. Perhaps that would undo all the advantage of pace and character which I hoped to gain. So I could either 1. rely on the reader of a historical novel to have a sense of the past, 2. use what Ridley Scott called ‘Irving the Explainer’, as famously used in the voiceover version of Blade Runner, or 3. find some other way of doing it. I’m currently practising the ‘some other way’…………

Published by Pamela Stephen

I was a teacher in schools and the college sector for over thirty years. In retirement from my full-time job I worked as a part-time tutor. And now I've taken up the pen ( or rather, the keyboard).

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