Friday, December 15, 2017

SiWC 2016 Workshop #2 Voice & Viewpoint

Voice & Viewpoint
Hallie Ephron

HANDOUT (as per yesterday, I will look for this and update this post if I can find it)

Writing fiction is about making choices and one of the first choices you make is through which character’s perspective the reader will experience the events. Whose story is it?


Same content, different voices:

Factual voice: “It was a dark and stormy night…”
Attitude/Southern voice: “Damn in that rain didn’t come down in buckets and sheets…”
Literary voice: “A September storm battered a sleeping London…”
Telling a story voice: “He turned to look just in time to see the rain start falling out as if the storm had finally decided to weep with shame for what it had done to them.”

Viewpoint is more of a technical thing. Which characters narrates, it flows through the perspective of the character and filters it.

*A Wrinkle of Time - great example of distant 3rd POV switching into close 3rd POV. With 3rd POV, you can change the focus, zoom in and out. 3rd POC close can almost get as close as 1st POV, if skillfully handled.

Voice reflects the narrator, you should be able to open a book to a random page and know who is speaking a line by their grammar, sentence structure, word choice, etc because it reflects their attitude/etc.

*Moonlight Mile, Dennis Lehane - the subtext in the internal dialogue is especially good

*Edge of Dark Water, author? - another good look at voice

*Oblivion , Peter Abrams (sp?) an excellent unreliable narrator and very, very close 3rd POV

POV Tradeoffs:

Omniscient POV, the reader sees a lot, but it’s harder for the reader to bond with a particular character and care whether they succeed or not

1st POV you get super bonded with the main character, but you’re stuck there, you don’t get a wider perspective. Claustrophobic which is both the greatest weakness and greatest strength.

3rd is the most fluid, being able to zoom in closer or further away.

Single viewpoints: the reader doesn’t know what they character doesn’t know, so good if you want an unreliable narrator, surprises, etc.

Multiple narrators gives a wider view, and gives more suspense because you can see the characters working against each other - the readers now more than the individual characters.

Managing and controlling 3rd POV

3rd POV can get very messy, using ‘he’ and ‘she’ in a sentence can cause confusion if there are more than one male or female in the room, the problem of head hopping comes up.

-One person narrating at the same time

-Clear transitions/scene breaks to switch from one narrator to another

*Example in handout of getting away with headhopping, watch where it switches and how it stays in control. One of the major reasons the author gets away with it is because of the conflict that piques your interest: who is ‘he’ and why does Reine-Marie want to go with him? There is this isolated bomb: “He had to go to the Gaspe” to switch/tip, a dynamic, so using the page, the white space.

Deepening Viewpoint

Sometimes you feel you’re holding your character too much at a distance

How to take something that feels too distant and make it closer?

Eliminate sense words that distance the viewer: heard/saw/followed/listened
“Deirdre heard the doorbell chime” -> change to ‘The doorbell chimed.’

Add internalization/thoughts/etc: “The doorbell chimed.” add: “Was it the police? How could they have gotten here that fast?”

Layering in voice: “…her gaze travelled to the crutch Deirdre leaned against.” add: Deirdre was used to that.” -> get a sense of how Deirdre feels about people noticing her disability, a bit of edge.

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