A Question of Balance

I actually halted working on the book for about a month. Mostly because I’d reached a point in the narrative where the focus shifts to the villainous faction of the story. There was a question I philosophically wrestled with during that time on whether the (impartial) third-person narrative voice should adopt a tone for this chapter that’s in any way different from earlier chapters that focused on the hero and his trusty sidekick. On the one hand I really want to convey the innermost workings of the antagonist’s head, but on the other hand I want to avoid telling the audience what to believe about him. A certain equilibrium between the two would be ideal. It’s a matter of knowing when to lean to one side and when to lean to the other. Not the easiest hike, but I’m forging ahead with it.



My last two literary attempts were told from the point of view of the main character. Mostly for utilitarian reasons. It was an approach that satisfied certain mental needs I had at the time. There’s definitely something therapeutic about creating a hypothetical being you become as you write, like a literary David Bowie performing as Ziggy Stardust.

Timeless masterpiece. Not a bad song on it.

However, one of the downsides of using a first-person narrative mode in fiction is that the main character must necessarily be involved in every scene. Which becomes a problem if you want to add spice to the story by inserting sleazy underhanded happenings behind the scenes that the protagonist shouldn’t know about.

I tried a number of workarounds to that problem with my previous work in progress. Like writing a few chapters in epistolary form, or having the point of view suddenly shift to a different character. Such methods can make for a jarring and confusing read if they’re not done right. With my current literary attempt, I sensed there was no need to make the narrative any more confusing than it needed to be, in part owing to the fact that one of the major characters is an artificial intelligence whose language is comprised entirely of sound effects. So I went with the tried-and-true third-person mode this time. This is a narrative voice I haven’t used in years, so it involved a bit of getting used to at first. But I appreciate the fact that I can get inside any character’s head. That’s a good power to have.


NaNoWriMo 2021: A Recap

The stated goal of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) is to compose a novel of fifty thousand words or more in the thirty days that comprise the month of November. I only managed about a tenth of that word count, and it’s more like a lone chapter than a complete novel. If I was unemployed and it wasn’t winter, this would be a lot easier. The majority of my writing is done in the morning, and ’tis the season when I necessarily must give up about twenty minutes of precious writing time to scrape off that small glacier on the windshield that formed the night before. Considerably more words were committed to the sheet on those days when I didn’t have to worry about putting on pants or leaving the house, but I only get two such days a week.

On precisely one of those thirty mornings, Black Betty’s keyboard mysteriously stopped working. Found myself having to spend a good chunk of what should’ve been a semi-productive writing session reinstalling the driver (a process which requires at least one reboot), logging in using her hitherto-never-used onscreen keyboard. Managed to fix the problem in the end, but somewhere along the way I learned I’d never want to write a whole novel using that onscreen keyboard. At least not on a device that has no touchscreen. Even with one of those newfangled touchpads that recognizes all the usual tablet gestures, you’re still pretty much forced to hunt and peck.

This is what the hunt-and-peck method looks like to me.

So I didn’t get anywhere near the prescribed fifty thousand words. No big whoop. They don’t hand out prizes for this thing; it’s not like I would have won a billion dollars had I surpassed the threshold. I certainly don’t consider this NaNoWriMo experience a failure, for what I did produce that month is something I can continue to plod away at for months to come. It’s the beginnings of something like a parallel story to my previous work in progress, set in the same universe. With several characters and plot devices tweaked. A different narrative point of view as well. Which I’ll elaborate on later.