To be honest, I do not like didactic writing, and feared that narration would open the gates of bombast. So I avoided narrating. But a series of scenes does not make a good novel. A series of scenes leaves the reader as befuddled as the writer. What, they both ask, is the point?
Today, with a head cold, while I was sitting in a very sunny window meditating, my heroine spoke to me. So simply. And I knew that was it, the way out, the way in. First person narrative is not omniscient, not shooting bolts of wonder from on high.
First person narration comes from a being stuck in time and place, wondering.
I spent several hours speaking as Clair.
Can I call something so obvious a breakthrough? Oh, once in a Shakespeare class my flamboyant and feverishly attractive professor pounded on Hamlet’s indecisiveness from every angle, leaving the class deadened with over-analysis, until I said, “Hamlet couldn’t decide!” And afterwards, in his office he said, “Richardson, can you believe that dope who it took all class to figure out Hamlet couldn’t decide?!” I remember being slain with humiliation. Now it seems great. I cared enough to get it. I followed Hamlet and Shakespeare and Professor Handsomeboots down the rabbit hole. I wasn’t taking his word for it. Words are only words.
And I care enough, however many years it takes, to get the narration right in my novel. Think I’m on the trail at last. You don’t have to be a shining intellect to penetrate the mysteries of literature. It helps, being honest, and listening with your quiet heart.
There’s the genuine mystery: making words surpass words.
Scarecrow: I haven't got a brain... only straw.
Dorothy: How can you talk if you haven't got a brain?
Scarecrow: I don't know... But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking... don't they?
Dorothy: Yes, I guess you're right.
Wizard of Oz quote
Lions and Tigers and Bears karaoke (no words!)
Movie photo courtesy of this blog
Dorothy photo courtesy of this blog