The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

Itchin’ for some Fiction pt.2

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I left off last time talking about chiselling and shaping until I get my story into the best form I know how.  Therein lies the problem.  I’m so out of sorts with fiction that I don’t know when it is in good shape, and have little clue about getting it in better shape.  I know when it’s doing some of the things I want it to do, but have little clue about how effectively I’m doing it.  But I’m not worried about that.  The practice of writing the piece is what is most important; plus, I have a writer’s group that will look at it in a few weeks and give me some feedback.  Every writer should have a writer’s group for that very reason.  Artists need to communicate with each other to give feedback, to push and prod and challenge each other.  Sometimes it stings a little bit, but that’s part of the process.  For the most part, the experience helps the writer reach new levels and see things he can’t see because he’s too close to the action.

I also talked about being inspired by Wallace’s piece in The New Yorker.  That brings me to another point:  Artists should not only watch other artists work, but looking intensely at what other artists produce.  This idea travels across the different artistic disciplines.  It’s funny that I would mention this right now.  Last weekend, I had a chance to see The Searchers at the Genesee Theatre in Waukegan.  I’ve loved the film for some years now, but only saw it on television, so I was slavering over the thought of seeing an original cut of it in an actual movie theatre (plus, I had a date!).  I was researching it a little bit beforehand, enough to learn that it’s widely considered one of the top 5 films ever made (and the greatest of its genre).  I also learned that David Lean watched the film repeatedly before he shot Lawrence of Arabia to learn how to shoot landscapes.  It must have paid off…  Lawrence of Arabia is considered by many to be the greatest film ever.  In fact, a lot of cinematographers credit it with being their favorite film, or the film that most inspires their craft.

Back to the story…  Point of View is interesting.  In Creative Non-fiction, the writer is always the narrator;  it’s then a matter of where he places himself in the story.  Sometimes he’s an undercover observer, sometimes he’s an active participant, sometimes he’s a commentator…  there are a multitude of variations on where the narrator is in CNF, but he’s always the direct filter to what is told.  In fiction, the writer creates the narrator.  Similar to a CNF writer, he chooses the narrator that best suits the story, whether it be a third-person omniscient, third-person limited, or first-person.  What best serves the story is an issue I had to consider early on a few weeks ago.  I started the story in first-person, partly because the plot bears some resemblance to events from my life.  But I felt like it was too much of an ego-trip, and narrating first-person was keeping me from reaching a deeper level of meaning.  So round about the third draft, I switched to third-person limited POV.  I was inspired mostly by what Raymond Carver did in many of the stories that I consider his best.  I felt strangely omnipotent by making such a switch.  I liked it.

I’ve never mentioned the name of the actual story under consideration here.  I had to brainstorm it out on my dry-erase board the other night:  “Something for the Hurt.”

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Written by seeker70

January 12, 2010 at 6:01 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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