Saturday, March 10, 2012

Week 9 - Point of View

26 Feb - 3 Mar

I am sitting in a hotel room after a week of packing, aeroplanes and time zone changes.  The climate could not be more different to what I left behind.  There is not a snowflake in sight, but there is plenty of sunshine; there are no skiers or snowboarders, but there is a beach full of swimmers and snorkellers.  The hotel is lovely, but I am, nevertheless, homeless.

"That's not my real name, you know?"

And how, exactly, would I know that?  "Russell," is what his name tag reads, so "Russell" is what I would assume his real name to be.

"It's Jerry."

Okay, so my waiter's name is Jerry, not Russell, as his name tag would imply.  Why would he wear someone else's name, do you think?

Russell hovered around the woman, and flashed crooked teeth whenever she beckoned for more coffee.  He had seen her every morning for the past week, a conspicuous white face in a sea of Japanese tourists.  Most mornings, she was with a little girl with red hair and blue eyes, and the child had refused to eat anything but Frootloops.  This morning, however, the girl ate meso soup with rice and seaweed whilst the woman regarded her daughter with amused bewilderment.

Exercise 17.  Use so-called 'writer's block' (or procrastination) to play around with point-of-view.  Start by writing anything in first person present tense, eg. "here I am bored, and not knowing what to write."  Turn it into second person, eg."you can imagine how frustrating it is to want to write but finding your brain has turned to mush," or third person, eg. "Harold was bored with staring at the computer screen......"
(Adapted from an exercise in The Art and Craft of the Short Story by Rick DeMarinis).

Exercise 18. Think of a person you know or have known who has annoyed, angered, frustrated or depressed you. Write a paragraph that describes a specific action by that person which aroused (or does arouse) that emotion.  Express it in first person present tense.  Now rewrite it in third person past tense and decide which has a more effective tone.

During Week 10, I will look at the role perspective plays in telling a story and setting a tone.

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