I’m having a dreadully good time drafting “A Killing in Burma,” and while there are bits that will probably need some serious trimming later on, the process right now is a downright blast. One of the things I’m experimenting consciously with here is writing a longer story without a single consistent POV character. This is something I’ve long been interested in, but I moved away from it because I used to use it mostly as a kind of obscurantist thing, like, “What, you can’t tell which character is the focus now?” It just made my stories harder to read.
The thing is, a single-POV story might be easier to write, but it also limits what can be told in a story, and while showing is important, there are things that cannot be conveyed at all if not told. In any case, I’m at the point now where my 3rd person limited omniscient POV is usually quite strongly aligned with one or another character throughout a particular scene — which is not to say section: each major section of this story has several scenes, and the focus can — and often does — move from one character to another between scenes in a single section. I’m not quite venturing so far as to shift focus between characters within a single scene, at least not yet — though as the collision/climax approaches, who knows what might happen?
It’s perhaps no accident that it took me so long to finally get this story well and truly started, because previously, I was trying to tell it exclusively from one point of view, and the story just couldn’t be really, properly told that way.
It’s also probably no accident that I finally was clued into this now, since the book I’m mostly focused on reading is Tom De Haven’s It’s Superman!, recommended to me by the marvelous Ben Burgis in the comments section of this post. De Haven very deftly shifts the focus of his narrator’s limited omniscient point of view from the fringes of one character’s mind, to the depths of another, in precisely the way I described above — shifting during scene changes. In a novel, it’s got a kind of kaleidoscoping quality which at first started pulling me along into the book, and later I found gave me the sense of a kind of richer, deeper world.
Today was great fun: I sort of cobbled together a really neat bit of bizarre futuristic warfare-economics and managed to mock Ayn Rand to no end, as well as giving the character who was, heretofore, a sort of bimbo-Eva Peron-knockoff character an internal life, and some humanity. I think I’ll stop for now, and may return to it later tonight, while Lime’s still out at a meeting.
Today’s work was
2954 (Update: 3755) words, which brings the current draft to 15656 (UPDATE: 16457) words, which ain’t bad, considering I started the complete, heavily-reconsidered redraft story on Monday, just six days ago. The projected length keeps extending, but the ending does feel like it’s approaching, now, unlike yesterday, and I’m now guessing at 22,000 as an approximate length, which is nice. I usually can cut 10-20% with some vigorous editing, and that puts it at a decent length to submit to a few of the kinds of places that might just go for it. There aren’t many markets for a 20,000 word novella, but there are a few, at least. And I can’t complain; I managed to write lots of (for me) relatively short stories over the last six weeks, so I’m not going to relax and enjoy the freedom of writing at this length while I’m, after all, having good fun. At least, two of the four opposing forces are colliding at the moment, finally.
FURTHER UPDATE: Sunday, Jul 30th: I got in another approximately 700 words today. Dead tired, need to get out of this chair. So, reading a bit, and sleep. My noctural schedule seems to be trailing off into memory. Whew!