Thursday, January 3, 2008


No, I don't know what the term means either-- never heard it. But from the example, "He jerked his hand back from the fence, realizing his palm was scorched" to "Painted wood scorched his palm" -- I'd say that scaffolding it the "meta" framework of the narrative, the "he did this, he realized that" that has suddenly become persona non grata among some authors. :)

The "Painted wood scorched his palm," is, I think, an effort to describe this from the inside, as if we ARE the character, so feeling is narrated before action. (Presumably after the scorching, he jerked his hand back?)

So it's "deep POV," trying to give the reader the stream of consciousness experience of being inside the character's body, and making the narrative reflect that experience.

Well, let's ask. Which do you all prefer as readers?
1) He jerked his hand back from the fence, realizing his palm was scorched.
2) Painted wood scorched his palm.

Notice that the "scaffolded" version emphasizes action, while the "un-scaffolded" version emphasizes feeling/perception.

Also a question-- does it matter that this jerking back, however narrated, is likely to be reflexive (you don't think, "My hand is being scorched; therefore, I will remove it from the hot object"-- you just jerk the hand away perhaps without even consciously realizing you're getting burned.

Would it be different if it were a chosen action, like:
She yanked hard on the worn wooden gate, and it creaked open.
(other version) The worn wooden gate creaked open under her hand.


Saskia Walker said...

I much prefer the first version, I can engage with it readily. I'm afraid the second version confuses me.

In the second version there's no reaction to this thing happening, (as yet,) so it's like the narrator is not really feeling it, which is kind of disembodied. I would expect the reaction in the same sentence because (surely) that is how the narrator would experience it..? Maybe in context it would work better for me, but reading it this way I'd be more engaged via the first version.

Edittorrent said...

The second one also feels kind of passive to me, because it doesn't involve action.