Saturday, March 19, 2011

Paragraphing as a Function of 3rd person POV

A discussion (telephone conversation ... no net links) on paragraphing led me to look at my own practice. It's interesting how and where you/I/your average writer gets her self-doubts from, isn't it? The fact that paragraphing was discussed, as in how to format them in Word for Mac, sent me to look at my own practise with a fresh eye. Despite the fact that I don't use Word 2008 for Mac.

Neither did I start with worrying about the how-of-the-formatting. I'll just sit down one day with an expert and get it shown to me; or I'll email someone and get a blow-by-blow account of how to do the modern style sheet. I used to know and love style sheets a few versions of Word ago. But they keep changing and I've been left behind.

My worry was that paragraphing should be a function of Point-of-View (POV). In the Lodestar series I'm  telling the story of an Artificial Intelligence, who doesn't have its own mobility or agency, through the third person limited POVs of a series of human characters.

Everything that is observed, thought, thought about, felt, heard seen tasted touched is from the point of view of the third person limited POV. Even things said by others are heard and observed by the POV  character.

Paragraph usage for fiction dictates that a new paragraph is started every time a new speaker has their say, and that's about all. Everything else, being the POV's characters life on the page could essentially be  one paragraph, except of course where she (the one I'm working with is Ahni) starts again after someone else has held the floor.

This method leads to observations of actions by the supporting character SanaSister, being attributed to Ahni, the POV character. For example:

They clambered over and around stones from the walls, that had fallen. 

"I see you thinking, Ahni," SanaSister said.

Inviting her to think aloud. "The tower looks like one of those spiralling spines of a shell stuck upright in sand in a game."

Where previously I might have structured it as follows:

"I see you thinking, Ahni," SanaSister said, inviting her to think aloud.

"The tower looks like one of those spiralling spines of a shell stuck upright in sand in a game."

It seems a simple little difference, but now seems to me that in the second example we're briefly out of character. 

Since I am on my final draft of part 1 of the Lodestar Series, the third last chapter, I can see another final draft coming on, to fix paragraphing in the first three quarters of the book.

If I'm right.


My Reading-Canterbury-Tales-project is advancing slowly. I am still mired in the Prologue. Page 16 -17,  Line 529, about to start reading about the Plowman, brother of the Village Priest.

I've also met -- as it were -- a Knight, his Yeoman, two Nuns, a Monk, a Friar, a Merchant, a Clerk, a Sergeant of the Law, a Frankeleyn, a Haberdasher, Carpenter, Weaver and a Tapestry-Maker, the last four having brought their own Cook, a Shipman and the Good Wife of Bath.

I had no idea Canterbury Tales has so many characters. I realise most will be minor, but still, they are all fully described.

No comments:

Post a Comment