Had a delightful conversation the other day with a fellow writer. We got into the fun stuff of past/present/future tense and that thing about first, second or third person point of view. You know, voice stuff on paper.
When I mention these topics to Long Suffering Husband, he smiles gently, sips his by now cold coffee and heads for the microwave to zap the coffee into life.
‘Cause that topic is as exciting to him as day old oatmeal. Cold, dry and kind of sticky.
Which is okay with me. I married him for lots of other reasons, not his none existent literary bend. He reads tax info, technical journals and diagrams. His baby blues (which are stunningly blue by the way) twinkle about other stuff.
Another writer buddy Angela Gutwein, recently finished her book, done in first person, present tense. Which has got to be the hardest thing in the world. And she did it magnificently. All emotional filters, gone. Immediate visceral impact? Enormous.
The book, Flying Lessons, will be out in a few weeks and I can hardly wait. The story, amazing and uplifting. Even in the gut-punches.
I learned so much reading and critiquing her manuscript, my own stuff is better for it. That’s the mark of a good read. It impacts your life in ways you never imagined.
Which is why I was talking to another writer about it. And her terrific way of holding to the right way to tell her story.
Forty years ago, stories were usually told in third person passive, past tense. “She began to touch the knife. She felt her fingers trembling.”
Today, more like “She touched the knife, fingers jittering.”
She did the action, now. Wasn’t done to her or around her.
Today, sentence structure crisps or softens to carry the flavor intended for impact. Sometimes, in fiction, grammar is sacrificed for impact.
‘Cause I needed it. In that sentence.
Words are tools, always have been. Rules help communication stay clear, appropriate and focused. As writers we must know when to hold to the rule and when to ignore it. If ya want the focus to shift, ya gotta know when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em.
Didn’t steal that line from Kenny Rogers, but from my dad who made a wild attempt to teach me how to play poker. Cards, smards. Would rather tell stories about the Joker and the Ten of Clubs.
Dialogue, my fav.
Everyone of you knew what I meant, even when it wasn’t English literature level. English is a funny language, with American racing into the wild.