Desperately Seeking Snoozin’ may be having connundrums about narrators, but she has a knack for metaphor. I love the image of her dog digging up the back story. A lot of questions come to my mind, like for what age is she writing? Is the book comical? An adventure? That can inform her choice of point of view and narrator. If it’s for youngish middle readers, omniscient point of view can free her in terms of bringing in back story. If it’s YA, maybe she could experiment with POV: try first person, or even second, as an exercise. With my own writing, playing with point of view has given me revelations about structure (No that is not too strong of a word) and character.
As a tool, I’ve often written back story in one piece, then deposited it in little snippets, so it’s not too loud or obvious. Experiment. We so often feel locked into our first draft choices.
Seeking Snoozin’ is quite right in her statement that she doesn’t want her characters repeating information, or announcing the back story, which would be like a big poster that says AUTHOR INTRUSION all over it. But dialogue still remains one of the best ways to communicate back story. And yes, if it is a control thing, it’s time to let that narrator take over and get that nap she needs.
I also wonder if this is really a narrator issue. It sounds like it might be more about time, something that frequently comes up with work that I edit, and which certainly is an important choice. Maybe the book actually begins earlier than she thinks it does. Maybe it needs an episodic or diary structure. Perhaps these past scenes can be woven in as a separate narrative. Remember in Louis Sachar’s Holes the way the past story is woven in as a separate narrative. And yet, Holes feels like third person limited POV in Stanley Yelnats perspective rather than the omniscient book it is. I’ve found this a great solution in books that are pushing the envelope a bit out of realism, and used it in The Outlandish Adventures of Liberty Aimes. Another example is in the Lemony Snicket series. Or maybe Desperately Seeking Snoozin’ would like to join us here at Hamline University, where we hash these questions out in person in lovely St. Paul.
Anyway, I’m guessing from Seeking Snoozin’s strong voice, that she will find a witty and innovative way to handle her narrator, even if it’s leaving him/her in the yard with the dog for a few days.
Speaking of point of view, I am speaking about Snoozin in the third person. Good luck to you, Snoozin’
Your reply is so helpful, Kelly!
Perhaps Snoozin's protag. is a twelve-year-old girl. And Snoozin's story straddles the line between MG and YA audiences. It's a swaying pendulum really–one that hypnotizes her towards her bed pillow and away from a clear audience. The story feels like a MG story, but the content could easily spill into YA territory–especially if she fails to exercise the subtlety the story demands.
Let's also assume that instead of napping, Snoozin' is toying around with time. Her protag's. birthday and homelife cause self-reflection–in snippets–which remains tricky. Like most writers, Snoozin' writes her way through the issues. She is learning the ropes like everyone else.
Snoozin' is probably rereading Sachar based on Kelly's advice. Snoozin's dog is pleased (with someone other than herself for a change)–and continues to dig holes of her own.
I am positive Snoozin' will enjoy a face-to-face convo. about these issues in January.
Thank you for your insight and help, Kelly!
If Snoozin–or anyone else she knows–IS interested in joining us at Hamline for scintillating conversations about these and other issues, she should know that the deadline for applications for the January residency is November 1st.
Hamline is always on Snoozin's lips. Colleagues, among other friends, are especially interested in Hamline's program. :0)
WE will have LOTS to talk about in January! I emailed the Inkpot as Snoozin' (whose favorite book, btw, is Catch Her in a Lie). I failed to think how Snoozin' would thank her professors or fellow contributors in a public forum. Sorry. I scheduled a nap in March. Besides, I blame my mother; she always referred to herself in third person.
Me: "How are you, Mom?"
Mom: "Why are you asking your mother how she is?"
Some influences begin at birth…
Kelly: Thank you again for the incredibly useful advice about time, POV, and narrators! This is Snoozin', signing off.
You are very welcome. And I like Ron's advice too. Cutting never fails to help. See you soon:)