Thursday, August 09, 2007

Progress

Sometimes you eat the bear; sometimes the bear eats you. Sometimes the story in your head spins straight out onto the page with rapt unhurried ease; more often, it stalls, refuses to wear the shape you planned for it, insists on a different direction, a new angle of attack. The story I first thought would be called ‘Oz‘ but now will probably be called ‘A Brief Guide to Other Histories’ has been like that. At first I thought I could get away with telling it in the second person singular, in the breathless rush of the present tense. I got all the way to the end of a first draft, but it wasn’t the story I wanted. So I started over, first person narration this time, telling the tale about someone’s encounter with his doppleganger at one remove. It’s work, but it’s also pleasure, too, when, as Angela Carter put it, ‘sign and sense fuse.’ But even after that happens, more work is needed . . .

2 Comments:

Blogger alffarr said...

I know what you mean. I've been trying to write a story I've had in mind for about three years. At first it was going to be in first person, Severian style, but then I realized that my main character has very peculiar body language, and people tend not to describe their own body language in stories. Then I thought of perhaps having a side character write about him, but none of his companions are consistently with him.
Any ideas? Perhaps second person singular in the present tense...

August 13, 2007 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Paul McAuley said...

I think you're on the right track by having a companion tell the story. It worked for Conan Doyle.

August 13, 2007 10:35 PM  

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