Today is the first official day back after a holiday, and even though I worked quite a bit last week, not everyone else did. Now most of us are back at it, and it appears as though most of us are not too happy about that. The prevailing weather today is partly crabby with the chance of occasional panics, with flurries of e-mails continuing all day and probably into the night.
Here's hoping tomorrow is sunnier.
Way back when we were talking about polluted nose holes, Shalanna said two things worth addressing. First, she said,
I don't know what they mean by the buzzword "scaffolding," anyhow. That might be an interesting subject for one of your entries. (An example of "removing scaffolding" from a sentence is, apparently, changing it from "He jerked his hand back from the fence, realizing his palm was scorched" to "Painted wood scorched his palm." I think the first phrasing makes sense on first reading, whereas I had to re-read the second version to see what was really going on.
You got me, Shalanna. I don’t know what scaffolding is, either. Must be some new term they’ve cooked up in the years since I finished my fancy-pants creative writing degree and was learning all the jargon. I could guess, but I might guess wrong, so I’ll just back away quietly from this one. Alicia, you have any ideas on this?
I think the most significant difference between your two sentences is not the structural change but the potential impact on point of view. In the first, the viewpoint character is the subject and is taking the actions. In the second, we’re distanced from the point of view character’s viewpoint, and the whole thing feels disembodied. In context, the second sentence might work. Out of context, it seems wrong.
Point of view is an extremely tricky subject. The basics are easily grasped -- first person takes an “I” narrator, head-hopping can be disruptive without proper transitions, and so on -- but beyond those basics, there are many tiny ways a writer can break point of view. Be vigilant for any moment which strays outside your viewpoint character’s direct experience. There are times when you can and should stray, but an action as dramatic and immediate as pulling his hand away from a fire is probably not one of those times.
Shalanna also shares this anecdote.
I was once in a crit group that insisted I must change the lines
_The kitchen stank of burnt piecrust_
_The stench of burnt piecrust assaulted her nostrils_
I quit the group the next week.
To which I can only give the kind of linear, direct response such a story warrants: Smart writer. Very smart indeed.
Theresa, at some point, we should talk about voice, and how it's no more "natural" than Maria Callas's singing voice. :)
Yes, ma’am. Should we start by defining voice? And we ought to talk a little about critiquing groups and editors, too. Editors ≠ CPs!