Wednesday, 3 November 2010

POV - the battleground

Mmm . . .

Odd one this.  I've just finished writing a new story and experienced a real internal battle between two sets of POV.  When I write, I just let whatever is in my head come out in the way it needs.  No planning.  No nothing.  Just comes out.  The stories I have written so far tend to fall into two distinct POVs - a first person, sweary, violent POV, and a third person, detached, well spoken, almost poetic, observing POV. 

I started writing this story in the latter.  Just how it came out.  Then half way through, I realised I'd written half a dozen swear words and was dropping the 'g's off the 'ing' endings a la my sweary POV.  Odd, I thought.  This has never happened before.

So I just went with it.  Turns out, the third person detached way of telling this particular story was completely wrong, and the sweary POV won the day. 

In counselling, there are models.  Theories.  One of the things you learn early on in your practice is you never fit a client to a preferred model, you go with the client, and see which model fits - if any.  I say 'if any', because pretty soon after that, you learn you are the model - the theory.  At base, it's just you and the client - two damaged people in a room together, as I once read with so much admiration.

Is writing a story the same?  Do we, do you, really decide upon the POV, or does the story dictate?

What do you reckon?


  1. As much as I like to kid myself that I am the one in charge when it comes to writing, the truth (for me) is that the story and the characters run the show. They tell me when I've got their names wrong. They turn left instead of right and show me what I almost missed. And their voices will be heard as they want, no matter how much I might try to make them be someone different.

    I love the name of your blog, because I've had those buggers for years. The ones that shout the loudest usually get their stories written down. And until I get the voice, the story doesn't happen.

    Funny old lot, aren't we! :)

  2. Chandler said that you should 'let the writing lead you and not lead the writing. I think it's true for me and not for other people. Mind you, Chandler also let the booze lead him a bit too often and I know THAT feling!

  3. Jools - can be a funny feeling, that letting go. 'Allowing' the parts of your story-telling mind to go where they will. This is the first time I've felt some conflict, some intrusion. Luckily, caught it just in time. You're right, we are a funny lot. Worrying sometimes, isn't it :)

  4. Paul - Chandler, to me, ranks right up there with the greats in literature. His stuff is so . . . perfect, like a stream of consciousness thing with 'gats' and 'dames' and other words that mean nothing to the uninitiated. And the drink, done for Hemingway too - another idle of mine. And that warrants a debate all its own. What is the link between writing and the self-destruction of the author? Real ale is my downfall. Tanglefoot, Abbott's, Bombadier, anything by Fullers. And chocolate. Minstrels and Twirls. Minstrels and Twirls . . .

  5. Actually, it's our subconscious in action, that phenomenon. Terry Pratchett says the reason we all
    figure out "everything to do instead of" write is simply waiting for the old subconscious to strike it's colors and tell us the story its been holding back all along. Much the same as we write, I suspect. The beast in our brain keeps muttering "No, no that's not what I meant." and we correct on the fly.