2004-09-17

Split Personalities

Today I have gone over and over my plot cards, and come up with several new and better ideas, such as: if the Rose is going to find a damaged deer and kill it (ie. seduce Rita Vega and later marry her), Anna can HEAR this from him as a sort of BRAG at Thanksgiving ... later, Olivia is going to tell her about the car crash that killed Mrs. Howe and her (and the Rose's) baby, in addition to a few students ... finally, towards the end of the book, I always needed Marcus to wreck his car hitting a deer, to parallel him with the Rose. In later drafts, I realized if Anna=the deer in this parable, the deer needs to be GONE when he finally returns to kill her ("put her out of her misery"). I was struggling and struggling with WHEN this would be, and how Anna would find out about it, if indeed this novel is told from her POV (be it first or third person). Today I realized: SHE NEEDS TO BE IN THE CAR WHEN THIS HAPPENS, AND WITNESS THE WHOLE THING, and it needs to happen AFTER she's been at Yale and seen the Rose.

So that was a good discovery.

However, now that I've spent the last few weeks with my notes and cards, put up my bulletin boards, and gotten this place back into working order ... and now that I've managed to carve FOUR HOURS out of every single working day, no matter what, to come to the office:

I have to start doing the actual WRITING again. Monday morning I return to drafting this thing, so the question to figure out between then and now is: FIRST or THIRD PERSON narration, PAST or PRESENT TENSE?

The benefits of FIRST person are immediacy of voice, direct to character. If I go FIRST, however, I risk sounding "too sixteen," and limiting this too much a to a (very dark) teenager's story that may have trouble breaking out to adult readers.

That said, if I go FIRST, I will write in the PAST TENSE.

The benefits of THIRD person are the ability to be almost MORE honest in terms of voice, seeing as my "SOAP" work seems deeper (and more vulnerable) than the drafts of the book so far that were FIRST person. And I feel I could be funnier in THIRD. That said, I've written the last several drafts in third person, and they've been pretty cold. Can I be crueler and hotter in third person?

And, generally I'm not a big fan of present-tense narration, as I find it a bit distancing, and a bit "cute," so I think I can cut that from the discussion.

But all of this is hard to figure out, and it's this sort of mind-game that's been fucking with me this week, and that I hope to have sorted out by the end of the weekend.

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