Monday, September 26, 2011

Point of View

WaHoooooo! I got ANOTHER Honorable Mention in my Writing Class and was published in our e-zine!!! Yay! So happy and excited!

Before I share my writing with you, I want to tell about the assignment for this week.

Our lesson this week, we needed to take a previous paragraph we had written at some point, polish it up and then write it again from a different point of view.

We had to post both paragraphs, each no longer than 250 words, for a total of 500 (or less)
Now some other students wrote from the same person's perspective and just changed the "technical" point of view. That is: Billy still is contemplating whether he should steal that candy bar, but instead of  "I can feel the chocolate on my tongue already..." it becomes, "He continued to stare at the rack of candy bars, his lips moving as if he could already taste the chocolate on his tongue."

So it's more like zooming in or out with the camera or looking at somebody's actions vs. looking out of their eyeballs.

But a few of us in the workshop chose to take our instructor's words literally. We made sure the perspective was different. Yes, we used "I" instead of "They/He/She" but we also changed the character who was looking at the scene.

The fellow in my class that has won  both times I have received Honorable Mention is a super writer. I can't copy his work here. It would be unethical. But I'll sketch out the masterful job he did. In his first paragraph he had a poor wretch suffering during a beating. He knows he's just being tortured before they kill him. But he is determined not to confess to a crime he didn't commit. He only did as his heart had bid him to do. He hates and despises his torturer, a man called "Red" for many good reasons. When I finished and started reading the next paragraph, narrated by Red, I scorned him. He described the thankless work of beating men to have them confess. He never chose his nickname, but it helps to get the information he wants.

Oooo! Don't you hate this guy!?!

Then in the last four sentences, Red tells why he despises the criminal he is systematically beating. He describes the crime committed, which any moral person would agree is absolutely wrong, and how he wishes he could just kill the man outright. By the end of that paragraph, I completely agreed with Red. I want the guy dead too!

Then I sat back and drooled with envy at how my classmate could take the reader on such a twisting ride in only 500 words. It was amazing!!!

And it was a perfect illustration of what our instructors had told us about POV and perspective. The narrator tells what he/she sees. And sometimes that narrator has tunnel vision, is unreliable or may just have a totally different opinion on the events that unfold.

So, with all that said, I was thrilled to come "in second place" to his writing with these two paragraphs:

DESPAIR (wc:247)

They had led her out of the city, up to the crest of the hill. A low stone wall stretched before her, enclosing a fallowed field. The wind was harsh up here, with little to block its relentless blowing. The women’s skirts and cloaks whipped around their bodies, snapping in the wind. A high whistling accompanied the low gusts. A spark of curiosity brought her head out of her deep, hooded cloak, like a turtle from its shell. She craned her head to see what caused the strange, melodic skirl. There, on the far side of the stone-walled paddock, huddled a patch of bare-leaved trees. A tall, scrawny youth leaned against the closest hunched-back trunk, a narrow pipe at his lips. The melody sent a shiver down Anna’s neck; she wanted to be free of this place. She turned, and blinked. It seemed the others had taken leave of their wits. Bets had unbraided her hair and the blond, curly mass bucked and waved in the wind. Mistress Lavagia and Cook had taken off their white head wraps and were freeing their own hair from braids and twists. Bets advanced, reaching towards her head cloth, but Anna lifted her hands protectively and frowned. Bets smiled sympathetically and pointed toward the strange heaps of stones that littered the ungrazed field. Quicker than her previous thoughts, the understanding came. This was not a hilltop paddock. This was a burial ground. And Neil lay under one of those rocky cairns.

HOPE (wc:240)

Steadily, I blow into my pipe. I play my finest whenever Bets is around. ‘Tis a shame ‘bout her lowlander friend. A widow, only months after being wed. If Bets ever looks my way, I’ll never be fool enough to join some half-baked rebellion, leavin’ my Bets wand’ring ‘round, empty-eyed for others to pity. ‘Course she’s not mine. Not yet. But she will be. Someday, I’ll touch her hair, pull on those curls, pale as winter sunlight. It’s been months since she let that stuff peek outta her kerchief. That makes it all worth it. She makes it all worth it, she does. ‘Course I’d be out here in the freezin’ wind anyway, since everyone knows I’m the best funeral piper around now. Cook is sure to tell her that I turned down the pennies she offered, and that can’t hurt. Maybe Bets’ll remember ‘twas I who piped when they buried her sister, what was found washed up at the bottom of Devil’s Throat. I didn’t charge then, neither. Aye. Bets will see. Give her a year or two and she’ll know. I’m no longer the grubby little pick-pocket who threw rubbish at her, just so she’d take notice. Someday, she’ll see how I can turn my hand at anything, how I can work at any job, for as long as any man. She’ll see the pile of the pennies I’ve stashed away for a little house. Hers and mine.

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