Sunday, May 05, 2019


     Or trying to write, anyway.  I have a short story, maybe even a novelette, written in first person.  It's not bad but there's a lot of background to impart, which will work better if it's written in "close third person," looking over the character's shoulder, knowing what she thinks, but able to take in a wider world than only what she sees.

     That's tricky.  It tends to veer off into first person or omniscient viewpoint.  The first is, well, lazy; you can tell great stories that way (Raymond Chandler uses it for his "Philip Marlowe" yarns) but it's a little like training wheels or a clip-on necktie.  The second is old-fashioned; I've read a lot of classic fiction written just that way, but modern readers find it dull.

     SF writer C. J. Cherryh has a real knack for close third person; many of her stories of people caught up in the interstellar struggle between Earth, Union and the Merchanter's Alliance are told that way -- Merchanter's Luck, Finity's End, Tripoint and Rimrunners are all good examples of this.*  The last on the list does an exceptionally good job of maintaining the distinctive voice of Elizabeth Yeager, the main character, while not leaving the reader stuck in her skull (it begins with a different character's view of her, and then moves to follow her).  So I pulled the book from my shelf to use as a reference, and once again, I'm drawn into the story!

     Still learning from it, but I'm re-reading the novel for the I don't know how-manyth time.  There's a lot to be gleaned from her work: Cherryh's characters live in a complicated, high-tech world and she's quite happy to leave you to work out the details on your own.

     Now I need to get back to work on that story.
* All of these novels share a common theme, too, of outcasts finding a place where they fit in, though not after considerable uncertainty and struggle.  You can find them all in hardcopy, new or used; presently, I find only one available for Kindle: Merchanter's Luck forms half of the compilation Alliance Space, with the interesting Forty Thousand In Gehenna as the other half.

1 comment:

JPD said...

That's right time to get back to work. We, your loyal readers are anxiously waiting...for your first published novel. Then, we buy it, read it, put you on best seller list. You make megabucks, write second, third, novels. Rinse, repeat.

More megabucks.