Am in the middle of enjoying a collection of James Tiptree, Jr.'s short stories that I obtained from sfbc titled Her Smoke Rose Up Forever. Last night I finished The Girl Who Was Plugged In. I spent 99 44/100% of that story fuming at the observations an unseen narrator inisted on injecting into the story. Although Alice gave me sufficient hints, I insisted on ignoring them, remembering only that Sheepie told me never to do this, a bit of advice that I recently passsed on to BrianC.
How, I wondered, could an author this stature do such a poor job of writing? Of course, she had done a brilliant job of writing but I didn't realize it till the end.
If you wish to discover everything about POV that you ever wanted to know; why ignoring the basics doesn't work, then read this story and learn how to break the rules brilliantly. Would have loved to observe the look on the face of the first purchasing agent who managed to complete the story. I figure the first dozen didn't make it past page one.
September 3rd, 2006, 07:53 PM
There is a time for learning POV rules and there is a time for dancing around them brilliantly.
You can't accomplish one without the other... it would be like that dancing baby who should be crawling... just silly and a bit creepy. ;)
There are many stories that have broken POV rules or ignored them completely and still work brilliantly but unless you believe you are a true literary genius (and Alice was a genius at many things), it's best to learn rules that help readers to believe in what you write.
September 3rd, 2006, 08:34 PM
Then there are the stories that shift about like one of those groundhog games - where you have to bat the head and accumulate points before they drop back down again. Stories like that drive you crazy because it takes a little while to realize how the POV is reallly working. A good one to check out for that is "As I Lay Dying" by William Faulkner.
September 12th, 2006, 02:55 PM
I'm coming back after computer problems and what thread do I find? PoV-Rules? Let's see whether you can guess what I have to say on the topic:
THERE! ARE! NO! POV-RULES!!!
Why are "observations an unseen narrator inisted on injecting into the story" breaking any PoV-rules? Because you were fuming?
Or do we have a chicken and egg question? You know they're breaking the rules because you were fuming, and you were fuming because you realised they were breaking the rules?
I admire KatG's restraint. ;)
September 12th, 2006, 04:42 PM
Yah! BUT! You haven't heard from Sheepie yet. Just you wait, Prof Higgins; just you wait.
September 12th, 2006, 05:46 PM
Just you wait, Prof Higgins; just you wait.
Ah ain't sellin' no rules, I'm not!
September 12th, 2006, 09:47 PM
Hereford Eye refers to the, ahh, somewhat random interjections in me heart's work. But he had a point, rules or no. I needed to think systematically about what I was doin' and I decided to make the narrator (paradoxically) both more obvious and more mysterious. I think it has made a good improvement in the manuscript.
(HE, I guess you'll see the results when (yes I said *when* dammit) it's published.)
September 13th, 2006, 09:13 AM
Methinks the Editress protests too much!
Last century, when I was submitting stories to all and sundry, every magazine and most publishers had style sheets with which wannabes had best comply. I suspect, though I do not know this for a fact, that it made it very easy to screen the slush pile, something that needed doing on a daily basis.
Any of the grand-and-glorious editors of any publishing concern can be said to be a purchasing agent for that company.
September 13th, 2006, 09:55 AM
When we (collective noun for all those who aren't afraid of the word 'rule') refer to pov rules, we refer to a method for learning what pov is... as opposed to bollocksing it up like so many new writers do. If you can learn to tell a story in a consistent pov, you're going to look so much more professional than someone who's head hopping like a pogosticking zombie on crystal meth.
You can get as arty and anti-constrictive as you want but it won't do much good if the reader can't follow you, or has to keep reading back to try to figure out where they are now. That's why I keep telling people who ask me to critique (those brave, brave souls) all about pov, that's why I simplify its usage when I tell them (that and I am a bit simple), why I insist they learn it, why I keep pointing out where it's doing clumsy annoying things.
Once a writer understands pov basics/rules (I'm not afraid), what they are, how to be consistent, how they influence the reader, they can then cease to be bashed over the noggin with them by me and move them around artistically with intention.
That is unless they're some artistic savant who churns out drop dead gorgeous prose effortlessly... but they don't tend to ask me to critique.
What hang up have you got about the word rule, eh, DS? Bit of a rebel, are we? Looking for a rule to smash?
September 13th, 2006, 10:01 AM
PS. If you want to join the POV Rule club please post your subscription to:
25 The Back Paddock,
Melbourne Vic 3000.
Subscription entitles you to one full year of abuse, ridicule and mocking anytime you write anything where the pov character is describing his own facial movements, eye emotions (yawn) or things that are happening behind brick walls (unless your character is Superman), in the next county, or unbeknownst to the pov character.