November 13th, 2011

FeatherFlow

Snow, Revisions, Omni Thoughts

We had a touch of snow here overnight Thursday into Friday.  This does not please me.  Yes, I understand many places are already colder and snowier. Born and raised in coastal California, I'd never lived in a place with seasons until I moved to Indiana after my son was born.  There was a time I thought I was getting used to winter.  That time has passed.  I will never be one of those who just loves living where the seasons change.  I'm the one actively working toward an annual December-to-March southern migration.

Anyway.

I ended up snatching some revision time for CHANT.  This does please me.  Changing the identity of the narrator caused me to consider the character's perspective in ways I hadn't before.  He holds much more resentment, much more internalized anger, than I previously gave him.  It won't much change what he does, how he behaves, or how other characters interact with him.  But it certainly taints his viewpoint of some events, and of one character in particular.

How much of that belongs on the page?  That's the question I ask whenever I make a change.  What I've settled on to guide me is the reason my narrator is narrating in the first place: He wants to preserve history from his time because his people are sliding into obscurity, and he fears what will happen if all is forgotten.  So the fact my narrator (rightfully) wants to disembowel my favorite bad boy may cause him to make interpretive comments.  But the empathetic understanding of why bad boy does what he does must remain.

Not since I first had to master tight third have I been so aware of viewpoint.  It's like learning how to drive a manual transmission.  Sputter-sput-sputter, rev, lurch, stall, cuss, sigh. start again.

The omni viewpoint never really left the writing world, though it was distinctly out of official favor for decades.  I wonder if its current growing acceptance has its roots in social media.  After all, we never really experience an event in isolation anymore.  First there were newsgroups, blogs and journals, giving chunks of thoughts to which others could respond.  Then there were places like Facebook--more interaction and smaller chunks, but still centered on the individual.

Now there's Twitter--swift and constant updates about everybody, from anybody, in a public space.  A one-stop-shop for multiple impressions of single events happening in real time.  If I cast my own mental/emotional filter in the role of narrator--making choices of Follow, Unfollow, or Reply To--I've the seeds of an omni view.  From a reader's perspective, then, making the transitions an omni writer creates may be easier than before.  The reader has had the opportunity to practice.  And, perhaps more importantly, we're growing accustomed to knowing--wanting to know--what everyone else is thinking.

Who knows, maybe there will come a day when lit crit names limited third as the demonstration of societal isolation and self-centeredness. :-)