Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Getting inside a Character

I had a manuscript on the shelf that I decided to rewrite. The plot was there, and the characters, but the whole was not very exciting. So I started tackling it. Not an easy job, but I’m gradually getting my teeth into it.

My colleague writers have had a few bits, and made suggestions. One of them was to turn the third person narrative into a first person narrative. Good point!

But less easy than it seems. It is not a matter of find and replace she => I, and adjusting the grammar. Then turning past tense into present tense. I now really need to get inside her head.

In a narrative you can write: “While she was mopping the kitchen floor, the telephone rang. She stood with the mop in her hands trying to decide whether to answer it.”

Inside one’s head it doesn’t happen that way. “I have filled the bucket with soapy water. The chairs are sitting upside down on the table. I have rolled up my sleeves, ready to dip the mop into the suds. Damn! There is the telephone ringing. Shall I let it go? It might be John. No, he wouldn’t call me at this hour. My hands are wet. I won’t make it anyhow. There, it has stopped. Damn!”

This is a silly example. I cannot think of a better one right now. I just want to illustrate that occurrences inside one’s brain don’t follow a logic of sequence. They happen simultaneously, and in a jumble.

It calls for a lot of rewriting.

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