Embodying – Outline of a Novel

Just had an idea for a novel. Here’s how I developed that idea (think of it as a case-study):

When you flip a coin it can either be heads or tails. In any argument, there are two sides: yours and theirs. When something bad happens then there are at least five ways you can react: denial, anger, bargaining, grief or acceptance. What if all of these sides were not just aspects of the self, but real people (or characters in a novel)?

The characters are different aspects of me. My denial will be called Eddie (Sheeran), anger will be Kurt (Cobain), bargaining will be Simbiatu (Little Simz), depression will be Dylan (Thomas – Under Milk Wood) and acceptance will be Jane ((Emma) Austen).

Illustration by Emily Roberts, Verywell

Characters:

  • Eddie is really called Dean (Newstead). Some kind of a double life going on.
  • Just noticed that Kurt’s got big(ish) boobs. I dunno, maybe it’s the steroids and that’s why his moods are swinging.
  • Simbiatu is the first name of rapper Little Simz. I’m pretty sure I won’t be allowed to write real people into a story but I can anonymise aspects of their life and personality.
  • Dylan’s skin looks milky white. Under Milk Wood is a 1954 radio drama by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
  • Jane looks like she could be an Austen but perhaps it’d be better to call her Emma. I could get a lot of mileage out of an Emma.

Brief Synopsis:

A serial killer is loose in the (city, countryside, hamlet, isolated mansion, fortified supermarket) – a cancer in the heart of the (city, community). One by one, Eddie, Kurt, Simbiatu and Dylan are murdered until only Emma remains alive. Is she the killer or is there someone else? Yeah, we’re going to have to go for the fortified supermarket. But fortified against what? Well, duh, Zombies; obviously! But don’t worry, they’re just a backdrop. Just a reason why the situation is inescapable. The inevitability of what happens next is important.

To be honest, that’s all the planning I need. The novel just about builds itself from here on out.

Chapter Outlines:

  1. Setting the scene: all characters together in the middle of a crisis (yeah, the zombies are trying it on)
  2. Killer’s background (lots of little stories that show character and motivation). Maybe cut this up and put a piece before each of the following sections. Let’s see.
  3. Eddie’s background told in a graphic and image rich style. Why is he really Dean? How does this contribute to what follows? How does denial fit in? Is denial in his natural nature or his bolted-on behaviour?
  4. Eddie being hunted, stalked and killed. Nothing too explicit. Bloody but not gratuitous. The death of denial.
  5. Kurt’s background and life before the zombies. How he got there. Use stuff from Cobain’s life but nothing too obvious. Do supermarkets stock steroids? Withdrawal? Anger? How does he show anger? What’s the root of his anger?
  6. Kurt’s death could look like an accident or suicide but it really is murder. Let’s see how that plays out. What does fiercely burning anger being snuffed out look like?
  7. Simbiatu is a waif. She is a very sympathetic character. Her background is a case study of rising up in the face of poverty and deprivation. She will capture your heart so that …
  8. Simbiatu’s death will hit you very hard. It will be tragic. A waste of potential, love, life and heart. Her determination to live will have you roaring her on in her attempts to evade the killer. She’ll try to bargain for her life, but she’ll still die.
  9. Dylan is a bit of a downer. He is melancholy and this affected the group, and everyone else in his past, in a negative way. We delve into Dylan’s background and in the process we draw on Dylan Thomas and his work. Steal, steal, steal.
  10. Dylan’s death is, to be honest, a bit of a relief to everyone concerned. I mean, no-one (except for serial killers) wants anyone to die (they want their victims to die) but removing all that wailing and weeping from a scene can’t be anything but uplifting.
  11. Emma’s background. Hmm. Well, for a start, she’s just like the Emma in Jane Austen’s novel. Please don’t make me read it. Maybe I could skim it or read the SparkNotes or watch the movie? Seems that Jane is her first name and Emma is her middle name, but she like’s to be known as Emma so I guess we just have to accept that.
  12. Emma’s survival means that acceptance is the final state of the book, but acceptance of what? Does she accept her role as a serial killer (if that’s what she is)? Or does she accept her role as a survivor? Any which way around, Emma survives, but what is she left with? The supermarket is the body. The fortifications are the drugs/diet against the disease (zombies) but how are they effective when the enemy is already within (the serial killer).
  13. The last scene is the invasion of the zombies from outside. The death of denial, anger, bargaining and grief, even though they are ineffective companions, has taken too much from the defence of the supermarket. Emma and her acceptance is too laisser-faire to defend the supermarket alone. We witness one last assault where the zombies (picture them as Covid-19, flu, or a common cold) invade the supermarket (the body). Contained within are Emma (acceptance) the serial killer (cancer). They try to fight together because, after all, the serial killer is still human (part of the human race) even though he has gone rogue (cancerous) and he still wants to live after his own fashion. Emma accepts everything and so has given up. Or – wait – has she? Let’s have a look at what Emma’s actually accepting here.
    Here’s an invader. Here’s an enemy. The enemy is providing a way for the invaders to come inside (partly through killing parts of the defending force and partly by unlocking the doors (health, strength, immunity, order, determination) that kept the invaders (disease, disorder) out). Here is a weapon. Here is acceptance. Here is an invader. Here is acceptance of the weapon. Drug trials happen all the time. Some are effective weapons against disease. Accept the trial, accept the weapon, accept the victory. Accept the arrival of the cavalry. Helicopters can land on the roof of a hospital and whisk survivors to safety – it happens all the time. Not every serial killer story has to have an unhappy ending. Zombies don’t always win; they are not immune to napalm. And if the serial killer gets caught up in the flames then who’s gonna mourn? Now that’d be something worth accepting.

The End.

Ha, now all I have to do is write it up.

Further Research:

The serial killer has to have a name. It has to be so unpronounceable in English that they call him ‘C’ or ‘Big C’. I’ve been having a conversation with a language expert (hi, Melissa): at https://wordpress.com/read/blogs/129050235/posts/248

Me: “Hey, Melissa, I have a really random sounding question. I need a first name for a new novel that begins with C and is largely unpronounceable to English speakers. Your surname made me think you light know of one. Perhaps it could have plenty of zeds or exes in it.
I’m Robert. Sorry if I weirded you out with that question. :)”

Melissa: “Hello Robert! Well i don’t know if this will work for you, but what came to my mind is “Chizvinzwira” which translates to “now hear for yourself ” in my language (Shona). I’m honored you asked by the way, i guess i like random questions.”

Me: “Wow, thank’s Melissa – that’s ideal. I have no idea where to begin in pronouncing that correctly. Perfect.
Now I need to ask permission to use the name I guess. I’ve just planned out a novel (you can see the plan here if you like: https://robertcday.wordpress.com/2021/09/14/embodying/) and I needed a name for my serial killer. He’s not going to be called Chizvinzwira in the book because he’s in England and, because no-one in the situation he finds himself in (trapped in a Supermarket with Zombie Hordes surrounding it) has the mental bandwidth to pronounce his name (or they’re all racist idiots – I haven’t decided yet (probably a combination of the two)) then they call him C. Actually, they call him Big C. I’ve not decided whether that’s because he’s big and muscular or big and fat – which do you think would be most likely? I think the former (muscular) because he’s got to have some strength in order to be able to kill all those people. Unless he’s cunning, I suppose. Probably cunning and fat would be most likely due to his motivation for killing them (food is running out in the supermarket). I don’t really know what people who speak Shona are like (which dialect, by the way?) but there are always going to be outliers.
Anyway, like I say – I need to ask your permission to use this name because it’s not for good purposes. C will be fat and cunning, will kill four people out of greed for food and life, and will not be redeemed at the end of the book (he will die in a napalm attack along with the zombies in the closing scene). What do you think?
Kindness – Robert.”

Making Lyrics into Stories

Here’s an interesting exercise I found (made up) today: take one of your favourite lyrics and make it into a story.

You’ll find you already have characters, venue and timeline in mind so follow that up by writing down a beginning, middle and end to the story in rough form.

You can fill in the details as you go on but start by imagining your characters in the venue. What do they look like, how are they dressed, what expressions are on their faces?

Then have them look around. What do they see, hear and smell?

Then have them look at each other. What do they feel about the character in front of them, what do they want to say to them, what does they want to do?

Now set them in motion. Make them do and say what’s in their hearts.

Now write about it. Don’t bother with polishing the words up yet – just get it all down.

Having fun?


I wrote this comment on George’s blog over at Zoolon Audio but I liked it so much I thought that I thought I’d steal it back and make it into a post. So I did.

A Life in the Day (15-16)

Here in the city, life is more crowded than at home. The Museum Gardens are snided (filled) with teenagers playing Abba and flinging hoops to each other. Obviously some of them are going other stuff too, otherwise the world would be a very odd place!

The pavements and roads around the shops throb and throng with people; enough to populate anyone’s novel. I often wish that I could stop and take photographs of everyone I find interesting to write about.

  • The woman with the bright red ringlets that look like they are made of plasticine
  • The three Nubian sisters that stride – so tall, proud and flawless of complexion
  • The guy who’s so flamboyantly gay
  • The Big Issue seller who sits on the ground and beseeches us to buy her wares with such imploration (us that a word?)
  • The bloke in boots, shorts, a t-shirt and a beanie-hat
  • The people who live on the streets.

All of them, just begging to be in a story. But here’s the thing: they already are. It’s called life!

Anyway, the reason I go into town, aside from the people-watching and the walk (got to get my 10,000 steps a day in) is to go to the church.

St Crux church has a forecourt, and in that forecourt is a charity jumble sale (apart from Sunday and Monday) and within that sale is a book stall where the paperbacks are fifty British pence.

That book stall is the reason that I have thousands (literally) of books in the attic, the study and the drawers in the office. I guess you could say I’m addicted.

After that I go for a pee. And then I take the following photo. I guess they dredged the River Foss.

Character Development

I was reading an article about developing characters and it got me thinking about how I go about this myself.

The way I see it, there are two (main) drivers for a story:

  1. Plot. This is the kind of writing where the events of the story are the prime focus and the author’s attention is fixed on driving this forward. The characters here do whatever the plot requires them to do. They are like puppets to some extent.
  2. Character. This kind of story focuses on the character rather than the plot, often to the extent that, whilst the author is writing, if the plot demands one thing but the character feels like doing something else, the character has the final say. The character is usually defined enough (via character maps and sketches) for this to be feasible, but if they are not then the author is going to end up with an unholy mess.

For my novels, the plot is progenitor (I would have said plot is king but there’s no alliteration there), but I tend to focus on characters for my short stories.

So where do I get my characters from?

Some of them have been inspired by someone I know or have known, but rarely. Most of the inhabitants of my stories come from people I see in passing and that I would like to know more about.

Instead of finding out more about these people by speaking to them (yeah, that’d be too easy, right?) I make stuff up. Typically, if something about a person attracts my attention(some behaviour, something about their speech, the way that they talk etc.) then this becomes a focus for my fiction. I write to discover that which I do not know.

I see a lot of homeless people in York (where I live here in the UK) and they intrigue me. I don’t know their motivations or where they live or why they have chosen this lifestyle and so I write about them. A lot.

Actually, when I think about it, I might not be interested in homeless people anymore because I’ve stopped writing about them. Instead, I’m writing a novel about the first crewed flight to Mars. Do you happen to know any astronauts I could speak to?

So, yeah, when I’m writing, I just make stuff up as I go along; and that suits me just fine. What’s your approach to character development?

Liking Likeable Killers (Slight Return)

This is a slight return to something I wrote earlier (Liking Likeable Killers) in which I’m going to talk more about the stylistic elements that contributed to my reaction (intense dislike and abandonment) to a character (a serial killer) in that book (Exquisite Corpse) and what I think the author (Poppy Z. Brite) was trying to achieve with that character.

To recap: I abandoned that book on page 28 because Poppy skillfully opened my mind and tried to pour something inside; something unpleasant to me.

Stylistically speaking, Exquisite Corpse is a very pleasant book to read. Poppy is very adept at writing the kind of prose that allows a reader to forget that they are reading fiction and that takes them into a world that is fully formed and exquisitely described in all its beautiful detail. The main character is (initially) very likeable, which allows the reader to sympathise with him and his plight.

I would say that the author deliberately set out to achieve this effect so that the shock value of what happened next was emphasised. It’s a compelling technique for the right audience (for example, my sister loved this book), but I’m not the kind of reader that this book is aimed at. I don’t like horror films (that actually, when I think about it, employ much the same technique of lull-then-shock) for the effect they have on my mind and so I stopped reading this book.

In summary: lovely book, effective style, great technique, achieves the author’s aim; abandoned.

Style of Writing

I read parts from the following:

  • Christina Stead, The Man Who Loved Children  (2010 [1935])
  • Teju Cole, Open City (2011)

The following micro-essay compares and contrasts these author’s approaches to character looking particularly at the stylistic choices they made, regarding how the reader will experience character, and what effects these have.

Christina Stead based The Man Who Loved Children on her own experiences as a child. Teju Cole shares many characteristics with the first person narrator in Open City. It’s therefore not a stretch to say that they are both identifying somewhat with the main character/narrator. As such, they are confronting what Bakhtin calls double-voicedness. In other words, the characters are expressing both their own voice / personality, and that of the author. To the extent that they are successful in this, Bakhtin says that they will be speaking ‘not about the  character, but with him’.

That said, they attempt this in very different styles.

CS has the livelier prose of the two, and the one with the most invective. She portrays the character in this scene (Hannie) as being rather hateful, excitable, wild and colourful in her language. She describes the things and people around her in an extremely open and opinionated fashion and she drags the reader into her world with the force of her words. To read this prose is to touch the object spoken about and think the thoughts that are being related. A forceful style is good if the subject is interesting enough, and in this case, it is.

TC has a quieter style of writing, but is no less forceful in putting over his point of view. Even though TC comes over somewhat as a tour guide in terms of the things he writes about, when he gets onto a subject that he feels strongly about, the reader can tell from the phrasing and vocabulary used how much emotion has been invested in that scene.

There is a sense with both authors that they are, each with their own styles, speaking through a narrator into a character and then to the reader (real and implied). One can sense the various parties involved in the narrative in much the way that the critic Seymour Chatman described when he modelled these stages. It’s interesting to see how these models work in ‘real life’, albeit a manufactured reality.

Both authors are adept in using their unique styles to convey characters that feel real to this reader. I’d recommend both novels as exemplars of characterisation (on the strength of reading all of Open City and the first chapter of The Man Who Loved Children).

Michael / Imago – Relationships

The Cast:

Michael is one of a cast of three and he is the binding agent; the one in the middle. The other two characters are The Writer (shall we call him Harry?), and Joan (latterly known as Sister Joan). There are one or two bit-parts, but they are merely walk-ons that elicit remarks that pertain to the plot and have no other part in the story.

The Story (the events in order):

Michael knew Joan when they were children and he was more than a little in love with her. Her family moved away and they lost touch until Michael went to the University of Sussex to pursue his Masters in Theology. He found that Joan was enrolled on the same course and that her family were living in that area. They became a couple, she introduced him to LSD and they got high together. M was not really into it, he was into her. Unfortunately, he became addicted and, because she cleaned up with the aid of the small tortoiseshellPoor Clares (an order of nuns), they again lost contact. Michael cleaned up too and remained obsessed by her. M dropped out of University and embraced the life of a homeless and solitary traveller and that’s the last J knew of him because she joined the closed community of nuns. She retained, though, feelings of guilt about M and blamed herself for his state. What she did not know is that he was clean and his mental state was due to an organic condition unrelated to the drugs. He settled down eventually on the steps of St Michael le Belfrey in York and continued with his twin obsessions of Joan and transcendence through suffering. Oh, this is all so very unlikely, but not all of it will come out in the story. Most of it will be inferred by the reader (if they choose). A writer (Harry) happened along and saw M as a beggar and decided to help him by interviewing him and then giving him the result as a booklet that could be sold to the public instead of begging. This somehow released M from his mental prison and allowed him to open up in a stream-of-consciousness (SoC) kind of a way. H edited the resulting text, but when he tried to deliver it to M he was gone with only a butterfly in his place.

The Plot (the events rearranged for dramatic effect):

  1. Sister J in nunnery praying for M (Michael/Imago (New Beginning))
  2. H interviewing M on the steps:
    • M talking (SoC) of childhood. Segues into several scenes with strong imagery:
      • 7 Mother punishing cake-eating by locking in cold shed overnight
      • 10 Joan finding and returning him after he runs away
      • 15 Joan’s family leave
    • M talking (SoC) of university. Segues into several scenes with strong imagery:
      • 21 Joan meeting M at uni
      • 22 Joan introducing M to drugs
      • 23 J & M taking drugs regularly
    • M talking (SoC) of cleaning up. Segues into several scenes with strong imagery:
      • 25 Joan cleaning up and becoming nun
      • 26 M cleaning up and becoming homeless
      • 30 M diagnosis of … something that makes him withdrawn
    • M talking (SoC / lucid) of seemingly random things that mean little to H but are important to the plot:
      • 47 Feelings for Joan – tenderness and wanting to take away her guilt (she thinks …)
      • 47 (lucid) – get this to Joan. Poor Clare.
      • 47 (SoC) – butterfly babble. Imago.
  3. H returning to the steps and finding M gone. Sees first butterfly of spring.

My approach to characters:

I tend to write about characters based on the kinds of people I see every day. I write about what I imagine they do, say and think. My stories are extrapolations based on what I see people do, what I say to people around me (or what I would say if I were bold) and what I think about (or imagine others to think about). They tend to speak to each other about normal, everyday things, act in ways that are realistic within their environment and think of things in a rather deep way rather than about shallow things. Their intentions and actions are towards harmony and resolution even though they may have problems at the beginning of the story.

This story is typical of my approach to life. Do you think I’m putting myself into my stories too much?

 


This is all connected to anything you see on this blog about Michael or Imago. Here are some links for you to investigate further (one of them leads to this post):

Liking Likeable Killers

Exquisite Corpse - Poppy Z BriteBack in 2013, I read a book called Exquisite Corpse by Poppy Z. Brite.

Here’s the blurb:

“A serial killer leaves his prison cell a dead man and rises again to build a new life. His journey takes him to New Orleans’ French Quater – to the decadent bars and frivolous boys that haunt the luscious dark corners of a town brought up on Voodoo and the dark arts. Anticipating a willing victim he finds an equal, something he never expected…”

Here’s what I wrote about it on Goodreads just after abandoning it on page 38:

I picked up this book for my wife, who loves the serial killer genre. This is not my cup of tea at all, but still, I plucked Exquisite Corpse from the shelf to read, because I understand it to be set in New Orleans, and I have an ongoing love affair with the culture, music and the ‘je ne sais quoi’ of the southern states of the US.

Considering that I abandoned the book at page 38, you may wonder why I gave it a five-star review. The reason for this is that the book is beautifully written. The descriptions of New Orleans are lush, evocative and beautiful, and are obviously written by someone who loves the city very much. Equally, the characters are richly detailed and, despite being serial killers, come over as warm, sensitive and potentially likeable on a human level. Similarly, I also loved the inventiveness of the story, for example, in the first chapter, one of the characters emulates the feat of an Indian fakir, in his.. no, I won’t tell you what he does; that might spoil the story for you.

All these things combine to make the read very enjoyable and rewarding, and that’s part of the problem for me. Consider this: a beautiful scene, lushly described; your senses open up to the tableau, your neural pathways are open and laying down a pleasant experience for you to remember and cherish, and.. BAM!! someone’s greased fingers are in someone’s anus.. BAM!! someone winds up with a scalpel in his eye BAM!! someone is seductively sucking an appendage BAM!! someone is sitting down to human flesh gumbo with a refreshing side salad (I might have made that last one up).

Well, it’s not that I particularly object to fingers or anuses – I mean, we all have them! It’s just the fact that these things appear at a point where the author has skilfully and lovingly prised the mind open, made it excruciatingly impressionable, and, to be frank, these ain’t the kind of impressions I want my mind to take.

It strikes me that with great storytelling skill, comes great responsibility, and Mr Brite has talent to spare in this field, which (IMHO) should be exercised with great care. There is a TV series called Dexter, which I refuse to watch because, to my mind, it glorifies and justifies killing, because the protagonist only kills serial killers who (as I understand it) would otherwise escape from ‘justice’. This, to me, suffers from the same problem – it takes something otherwise unpalatable, wraps it in a sugar coating, and presents it in a beautiful box.

I won’t be drinking any more from this particular teapot, but that said if this is what you like: drink your fill! It’s all part of the multi-varied, ‘all sorts to make a world’, merry-go-round thang called ‘life’!”

That character felt alive because of the author’s skill in evoking in me, as a reader, the kinds of feelings one gets when falling in love with a person. I sympathised, empathised with a serial killer and I paid the price. It’s not that I was betrayed exactly; I knew what I was getting myself into, it’s that I thought I could remain detached from the character by force of will. Mistake. The intimacy was too much.

The character lives in my memory because I sympathised with his plight. He was locked away and I know how that feels. His ability to escape, and the ingenuity he showed in doing so, was inspirational. He showed skills and a kind of super-human ability that few possess and many people want. The writer created all this but also gave him more than his share of reprehensible traits. It feels strange to be torn like this.

On the flip side, I can’t really think of any characters that have deterred me (to the extent that I have stopped reading) because they are too ‘good’. There are some that irritate me because they have acted in ways that I have thought are too good for the situation, like Felix in NZ by Zadie Smith (his final scene of the book where he is attacked by youths) and Lev in The Road Home by Rose Tremain (a scene in which is acts ineffectually when being attacked by children). But I guess that this irritation came about because of the difference between our characters and outlooks on life, not because of the characters being too ‘good’.

Can you think of characters in fiction that have deterred you precisely because they are too ‘good’?

Would you Want to be Friends with a Paedophile?

lolita_kubrick_film_cover

I just read an article in The New Yorker called ‘Would you want to be friends with Humbert Humbert?’, which was written in 2013, some six decades after Vladimir Nabokov wrote the book, Lolita, in which the character Humbert Humbert: the fictional paedophile in question here, features.

In the article, various writers talk about the differences between real people and fictional characters with respect to whether it’s possible ever be friendly with characters that are written in such a way that they are unlikable. This is, in essence, what they say:

Clair Messud says “The relevant question isn’t “is this a potential friend for me?” but “is this character alive?””

Donald Antrim says that he does not read in order to identify with, like or dislike characters. The rest of what he says is filled with questions around the matter, with few answers.

Margaret Atwood says “Intelligent readers do not confuse the quality of a book with the moral rectitude of the characters.” By this, she means that we read books for different reasons than we choose friends and companions. I would say that the former is for entertainment & vicarious thrills and the latter is for mutual support of various kinds.

Rivka Galchen says (quite optimistically) that “Writers are constantly conscious of the emotions they are eliciting in a reader.” Unfortunately, that’s one of the few intelligible statements she makes here. The rest of it reminds me of being stuck talking to an interminable bore (any bore) at a party (any party). Long-winded and empty of real substance.

Jonathan Franzen, by contrast, is brief, to the point and draw the evidence for his opinion (“You’d unfriend a lot of people if you knew them as intimately and unsparingly as a good novel would.”) from politics. American politics at that. *yawn*

Tessa Hadley’s opinion is that “… it’s so obvious to a writer that they need the grit of bad behavior, or recklessness, or sheer cruelty, or suffering in order to write something true and vivid. No one would want dreary novels full of people behaving considerately, would they?” Hmm. It klnda depends, I guess.

Personally, I think that there’s a difference between knowing someone in ‘real life’ and knowing a character in a book and that this difference is bound up in how much one is privy to that person’s thought and feelings; their private parts.

If you had as much access to the thoughts of your friends as you have with fictional character then you might well run away screaming. With a character in a story, you are safe. You can know many things about their urges, desires, observations and preferences and still not be threatened on any level. But if you had full access to these aspects of a real person, then that’s a different matter.

So, yes, I might want to be friends with Humbert Humbert; but not if I knew what he was thinking, feeling or imagining. Not if I knew him as well as I know him as a character in Lolita. Not if I knew him as well as I know myself.

What about you; BFF with Humbert? Or not.

Connections Between Voice and POV

These people make connections between Voice and Point Of View (POV):

  • Amanda Boulter, Writing Fiction  (2007)
    Our ‘Voice’ is not our own. It’s a hotchpotch of words and language that we’ve picked up from everyone who’s ever uttered anything before us. We read some of it, heard other stuff and got other items passed on to us through a long chain of people stretching back into antiquity and beyond. When we use this language in our writing, we’re just passing it on like matter entering our mouth and exiting our anus. Not to say that what we write is shite; every metaphor breaks down somewhere. Out POV is populated by all the people we have heard and read speaking. Each of those voices had their own values, social group, geography etc. and so the voice we inject into a story has the same. It’s a smorgasbord of voices expressed in one. Should it be coherent? Should it be consistent? It can be, but it needn’t. It just needs to express what you need it to say via the character and effectively give the message that you, as an author, need to communicate by telling the story.
  • James Wood, How Fiction Works (2009)
    There is a POV called ‘unidentified free indirect style’, which expresses the views of a character or a collection of characters. It is simultaneously the voice of the author and that of the characters. It is the author speaking through a multitude. In view of what Amanda Boulter (channelling Bakhtin and others) was saying, this is tantamount to the language of the world funnelling through the author, then the characters and then out into the readers.
  • Chris Baldick, ‘Polyphonic’ (2015)
    This is an entry in a dictionary of literary terms. “… a polyphonic novel is one in which several different voices or points of view interact on more or less equal terms …” This is, again, all about what AB was saying. There’s lots of voices and we can use them all to express all sorts of stuff to all sorts of readers. It’s a scatterdy-scatterdy world that we’re living in and this is reflected in the stories we write. Multiple voices= multiple points of view.

The trick is, I guess, at the end of the day, to be multiple whist making it all make sense to the reader.

Alternatively – forget I said anything and just carry on writing.