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Regrets

Ell

Well-Known Member
Damn. So stupid. What was I thinking? Too many excuses. Too much procrastination, thinking there'd always be time. Now it's too late. I always thought there'd be lots of time to talk about my mother with dad. But the time never seemed right.

I did try once. I had taken him out for lunch and casually asked him what my mother was like. He answered without answering – something glib about her being the younger sister of a university friend - and I knew he didn't want to talk about it, so I didn't press the issue. Years went by and the time never seemed appropriate. We were always in the middle of family gatherings or my stepmother was present. I figured one day we'd have a chance to sit and have a heart-to-heart, but it never happened. Now he's gone and there's no one else to ask about the little details of her personality.

So I'm left with the feeling that she never existed beyond a few fading photographs. Sure, I can see the resemblance. I've been told my entire life that I look like her. And it's true; the same eyes, nose, high cheekbones. But I wonder about my personality, my interests, my likes and dislikes.

There's a weird disconnect when people talk about their mothers. How they hate them or think of them as best friends. I just have a blank, I don't know-can't relate space. Would I have liked her? Would we have been best friends? Would we have driven each other crazy with our own idiosyncrasies? It could drive me crazy thinking about the possibilities. In my idealized version of her, we would be close friends. She would always listen and understand, give advice judiciously and be a shoulder to cry on when needed. She'd understand my need for variety and change and not think I should settle down at one thing. She'd understand my predilection for going on and on about things I'm passionate about and know when to tell me to just shut up.

----------------------------
That's it for now. The above is same character as in this piece.

I'd like advice/comments about voice. Which works better?

ell
 

novella

Active Member
Gee, Ell, these are so different, both very good, but in very different ways. I'm not seeing any connection in the characters, but that's, I guess, because of the difference in age? The first-person narrator is older?

About the different voices, the other piece, written in third person, but from POV of the little girl, loses the perspective of a little girl in some places. Notably the section about whether the boys view her as a 'chink' or a 'frightened young child' stands out. It's important when writing in third person that way that you understand whose point of view you are privileging and be true to that, not come in with a larger omniscience. Don't know if I'm explaining this clearly.

Anyway, I think the first person is much smoother and 'in voice' because of that. Though I think you're just scratching the surface so far. It's a little bit generic as is. I would keep going with it and see what comes out. I like them both, but for different reasons. The little girl's story has more unique details.
 

Ell

Well-Known Member
Thanks, novella. Good point about the POV of the little girl in the first piece. I would never have picked it up myself. It's hard to maintain without bringing in the adult, older perspective. I'd thought of telling it either from the adult's perspective or from first person, but it didn't seem to work as well.

Appreciate your comments. The present piece is something I just put together today so, as you noted, needs more work.

ell
 

Ell

Well-Known Member
I still have the voice dilemna.

As things stand, I have material told in the little girl's voice and then later in the older voice. If I'm to make it a cohesive whole, what are ways to bring them together? Or should I switch them all to one voice?
 

novella

Active Member
Hi Ell,

You could treat the little girl's story as a prologue, depending what happens and how much there is to tell. I would bring her father into it, if he is to play a larger role in the later story.

Another thing to do is write them as two different but related stories, with overlapping characters. This way you don't have to build a connection, but one will become evident when the second story is read.

A lot of people aren't successful at writing in a child's point of view because it's very hard to keep the keener, more informed observations of an adult out of it and go back to that perceptive but naive viewpoint. You might want to tell the story from the adult point of view, first person, recollecting the child's experience. e.g.,

"When I was 10 the world around me shifted even as I remained the same . . ."

Not sure if these ideas are along the right lines . . .
 

Ell

Well-Known Member
Novella, I like the idea of writing separate but related stories with overlapping characters. (Alice Munro does it extremely well in Runaway.) Not sure the prologue thing would work with what I had in mind.

I've tried writing everything from the adult POV, but don't think I have the skill yet to pull it off without sounding stilted. I'm an amateur at this, after all. But I am working on it. :)

You've given me a few things to think about. Thanks.

Anyone else?
 

leckert

New Member
I agree with Novella in that it is a bit generic.

I think it can be an awesome, and unique, perspective on our parents, and on this girl's experience, but it needs to be made more personally hers.

Nice, though. Thanks for sharing it!
 

Eugen

New Member
Action and voice in Running Scared was quite gripping; made one want to read more. This is good too, not sharp enough for me, though. As novella said, both quite different. May be wrong to compare.
 
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