perspective on perspective, or pov

I just today ran across a really good post from back in 2006 on Justine Larbalestier‘s weblog. It’s about (so-called) head-hopping (rapid shifting of point of view) and the general belief that such techniques are bad bad bad. She says:

Let me repeat: no writing technique is bad per se. Sure, it can be done badly, but that’s an entirely different issue. Writing that obeys all the writing workshop rules and deploys not a single adjective or adverb can also completely suck.

I have friends who are on this no-pov-shifting bandwagon, and who are quite vocal about it. For example, Jenny Crusie has been very clear about her dislike of rapid POV shifting. Now, I love her to death, but on this, I’m sorry to say, I think she’s got the wrong end of the proverbial stick.

Justine’s post is worth reading because she backs up her position with a lot of interesting observations This is one of those anti rules-of-thumb: If you are good enough, you can break any rule and not only get away with it, but pull off something wondrous.

In the spirit of full disclosure: I do sometimes use rapid POV shifting as a technique in certain kinds of scenes. A few people have emailed over the years to ask me why I would commit such a crime. I think now now that question has been answered, more by Justine than by me.

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be still my heart

Over at LibraryThing they’ve launched the new groups feature. Anybody can set up a group for people with a common bookish interest, and anybody can join. There’s a group discussion board, and group statistics, and all kinds of lovely geeky things to make my heart beat faster.

I just set up a new group called Romance, from Austen to Byatt to Crusie. All you need is a free LibraryThing account and you can hop on over there and join.

Can you see this as a challenge? As people are scrambling to set up groups and get members to join, the romance community could kick some butt. Some thriller-butt, some baseball-butt, some aviation-butt, even poetry and theology and numismatic butt.

spam spam spamalot, and other things

1. I have closed the comments on all the posts in the s3xs3enes posts, which seems to have helped a lot with the bandwidth/spam problem. For now I’ll leave it at that.

2. There’s this theory of mine: if those people who sit around and figure out ways to get around spam filters put their combined intellect together, maybe they could buy a cup of coffee.

3. Jenny Crusie has a huge long post on her weblog about how great Spamalot was, which she just saw, on Broadway. When we were in Manhattan this summer we couldn’t get anywhere near Spamalot tickets. Well, we could have but at about $400 a pop. Not that I’m jealous or envious or anything small and green like that. Nosirree, not me.

On other fronts, a character is telling me now that she doesn’t want dogs. She was supposed to have dogs, but she’s most insistent that she has no dogs of her own, but fosters rescued dogs until they’re ready to be adopted to permanent families.

But wait, I said to her and she said: no.

These characters, they think they own the joint.

prep work: Pajama Jones

Over at Argh Ink Jenny Crusie is getting set to write one third of a book… well hell, I can’t remember the details except she’s doing her prep work for her main character, called Mare. The other two contributors to this book are doing the same for their characters, and then there’s a meeting with a lot of alcohol where they compare notes and put together a work/battle plan.

Jenny also does a collage for her characters/stories. This is something I do in a smaller way, usually on the computer screen. Because if I let myself go into the studio and start playing with paint and paper, dog only knows when you’ll see me again. Procrastination Central. In fact, I should put a sign on the door that says exactly that.

So I’m working on Pajama Jones, for Putnam. I’m not ready to say too much about this novel at this point, but I can talk about the main character. Following Jenny’s example I’ll give you some basics about her. I’d be curious about any reactions you might have, and more important: are there any questions you would add to this list?

Finally: changes are always possible, and almost inevitable as the story and the character take off on their own.

Name: Julia Darrow
Home: born and raised in Greenbriar, Georgia. Ten years in Chicago for school and work, then back to Greenbriar.
Hair: brown
Eyes: brown
Height: 5’9″
Favorite foods: eggs Benedict, chicken and gravy, roast beef, good bread with fresh butter, strong cheese, noodles of any kind, any leafy green, thick cut potato chips, chili.
Won’t eat: Yoghurt, anything stew or gumbo like, soup.
Favorite things to drink: root beer, milk, juices, red wine
Favorite Music: Bach
Likes to wear: Used to present herself as a J Jill type, but since she’s changed careers, she wears pajamas, or long underwear that looks like Pajamas, or some combination of the two, all day long.
What her living space is like: A three room apartment above her business. Perfectly put together bedroom, antique furniture, a quilt made by her great grandmother folded precisely over the chest at the foot of the bed. The eat in kitchen is small, ultilitarian (she rarely cooks); the front room is a testament to comfort, quirky tastes, and technology. She’s got a full computer setup, a wide screen television that hangs on the wall, every other kind of geekish toy, a huge and comfortable couch and two chairs, each with a personality of its own, as well as a hugely expensive office chair. Good original art on the walls, all contemporary except for a small oil portrait of a great great grandfather in Civil War uniform.
Methods of transport: These days she walks, or stays home if it’s too far to walk.
Politics: Used to be very involved, now won’t watch the news.
Magazine subscriptions: dozens. Business related, but also high end crafts, arts, antiques.
Favorite Book: Happy all the Time, Laurie Colwin; Keeper of the House, Rebecca Godwin
Favorite TV Show: She watches everything except sports, news, politics, and sitcoms with laugh tracks. Used to like medical dramas but doesn’t watch those anymore either. Tends to turn on HBO and let it run.
Favorite Movie of the last few years: Man on Fire
Expression: don’t just sit there
Movie star crush: As in, I”ll go see anything with . . .: Harrison Ford, Denzel Washington.
Pets: a large cage with five pairs of love birds, another larger cage with ten pairs, a small dog called Lucy, breed a mystery, a pound rescue.
Creative outlet: the display window of her shop
Favorite Muppet: Oscar the Grouch
Favorite ice cream: Tin Roof Sundae
Favorite desert: can’t pick just one. She’s got a sweet tooth.
The thing she’d never do: Miss opening the shop on time, be late for an appointment, stop running.
The thing she’s always wanted to do: Make everybody’s bed.
Childhood toy that’s still in her room: an antique doll with a bisque face that is perfectly dressed, and that she never played with.