Ideas and Point of View

by syaffolee

I recently came across a remark comparing abandoned French apartments–which may have beautiful paintings and love letters written by prime ministers–and abandoned American apartments–filled with old newspapers, junk, and mummified cats.  I found this juxtaposition very interesting so I had to write it down.  And from this juxtaposition, a nascent idea began to form.

This is how my ideas often coalesce.  Something I read or see provides the spark.  But often, I am unable to use it right away.  It needs time to incubate–weeks, months, maybe even years.  And when I do get around to writing about it, the idea has already been rolling around in my brain in one form or another for a long while.

I am not sure how or when I’ll be able to use the notion of abandoned apartments containing strange things.  Maybe I’ll use it for next year’s Nanowrimo.  Certainly not right now.

* * *

I’m at an uneasy impasse at planning this year’s Nanowrimo novel.  The problem is: what point of view should I use?

I hadn’t been thinking too much about it until I came across some point of view discussions on the Nanowrimo forums.  In my notes, I had written that I would write from the point of view of the assistant “cameraman” (or in this case, the assistant holographic projectionist), most likely in first person.  The only thing is, this would relegate the narrative to the inside of one person’s head.  This could easily go downhill into seriousness.  And that is not the sort of tone I am aiming for.

Third person could allow me to explore comic situations in a more controlled fashion, but while things wouldn’t be tainted by an upset character’s view–which could easily turn things far more serious and angsty–it could also be too objective and detached.  I toyed with the idea of the characters writing a group blog about their adventures, but then I decided that this would involve too much head-hopping.

But leaving aside the whole comic aspect to the thing (which I’m not even sure I can pull off), there’s also a mystery in the plot line.  I really need some of the major secondary characters to remain enigmas.  If I write this in first person, I can use the narrator as a vehicle for the reader.  And as the narrator slowly discovers things, so will the reader.

If someone else were to agonize over point of view, my own advice would be to write in the point of view that would be most natural for the story (not necessarily most natural for the writer).  But even if I were to use my own advice, I still feel indecisive.  The other part of me–the part who is extremely impatient about any sort of silly waffling–is pretty much mentally slapping myself for being such a nitwit.  Shouldn’t I just pick something and go with it?  This will, after all, be a draft.

So I suppose I would just pick something and go with it if I haven’t made up my mind when the month is up.  And that something will probably end up being my original decision on point of view.

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