Friday, 30 November 2007

Whose Point of View?

Today, in a rainy, windy Canterbury, I’ve been working on a really crucial scene in my new book. It’s one of those scenes that a book absolutely turns on. But, despite the fact that I’ve known it was coming since I started the book, it’s been excruciating to try and get into. Industrial quantities of tea has been consumed, much creative thinking has been done whilst ironing shirts has been (does anybody else think about their writing whilst ironing – seems to free something up in me…) and many false starts have fallen to the delete button.

Why all this angst? Because I’ve had to decide whose point of view it’s going to be told in. As I think I’ve mentioned here before, the new book has three narrators. As each has a very different voice and outlook on the unfolding story, the decision as to who gets to tell this central scene is really important. Because they share the same story but their take on it is very different.

The book I’m reading at the moment – Ben Elton’s High Society – also has many narrators, but they’re all telling their own interweaving stories. Not sure whether that’s easier or more difficult but it looks easier from where I’m sitting.

High Society is about the legalisation of drugs. I’m fascinated by the way Ben Elton approaches the idea through the personal stories of an MP throwing the hat of his career into the legalisation-ring, a drug-addicted teenage prostitute with a history of abuse, a pop-star with all the substance abuses of a Pete Doherty and a policeman with a family to protect. I haven’t worked out yet where Elton stands on the subject of drug legalisation (just as it was difficult to work out his stance on film violence in Popcorn) as all his characters speak with such conviction from their various standpoints, but I’ll be interested to see how he navigates towards the end of the book and who tells which bits!


Leigh Russell said...

It's a tricky one, isn't it, writing in different voices, but also great fun. I do that in my book and at times the narratives cover some of the same ground. I'm not sure if that's a good idea, as it might slow the progress of the story down. Do you have a 'main' character in your three voices?

Thank you for commenting on my blog. Call by again soon.

Alis said...

No, interestingly, the narrative is pretty evenly spread between the three. They each have their own story, too, within the larger story and each of their own narratives intersects with the main thread. When I put it like that, no wonder I struggle sometimes, sounds far too complicated!
Thanks for coming over to my blog - it's great to have conversations with another writer at the same stage!

Leigh Russell said...

I think you're way ahead of me, in just about every way. But I'm getting there. I actually felt confident enough yesterday to give my MS to someone close, not my publisher or editor. But I've made a few more changes to it since then so I almost wish I hadn't. With my next endeavour, I'm, going to try and get the book right before I give it to my publisher. Trouble is, I thought I'd finished the first one, until my editor got to work. Oh well, we live and learn. I hope to do better next time.

john hawkins said...

best wishes and we look foreward to seeing you on jan 25 in cambridge


john and glen