Friday, April 10, 2015

Point of View

One of the things you learn in the sketching phase of writing a novel is what the novel is actually going to be. I’ve posted about the liberty I'm feeling, getting out of the first-person singular voice of The Ax and the Vase … and I’ve written much, recently, about #WeNeedDiverseBooks and the failure of Ax to live up to that as an ideal I personally support.

What I haven’t written about is the fact that two of my characters – one a main character, and one a main character at least for the duration of his stay in the pages – do happen to be People of Color.

This isn’t the case out of a desire to “write for the market” (that trap pre-published authors fall into, of picking a trend hoping to cash in on it) – but, frankly (har the franks), sheer boredom at the lack of diversity in Ax … much as I love it.

Perhaps as part of the process of figuring out whether it’s time to (*temporarily* …) shelve Ax in favor of the WIP … perhaps simply because of the first flush of energy in working on said WIP … very definitely owing to a lot of my social media and query-researching exposure to the awareness of the need for literary diversity and the obvious White Liberal Guilt attendant on a novel utterly lacking in anything but White Powerful Male voice (much as I love it …) …

It’s been very exciting to feel the POV of the WIP limbering up, and *opening* up.

I’m not trying to write about fascinating/objectified brown skin and exoticized eyes, but I’m getting to know my main character who is *not* the princess. With getting to know the world itself – the period perspective on everything from the sound and use of a human voice, to emotional relationships and protocol within a court unlike any milieu familiar to a modern mind – comes getting to know a woman living in this place, working in it, making sure she can hold her own and stay in it.

The character’s name is Plectrudis, and she is midwife to the queen in the very first scene (as of *now* … !), and becomes nurse to the child she brings forth, and eventually HER midwife as well. She has all the intimacy and remove of a servant in the most privileged of households, and even as I write about writing about her, I know some of my favorite sketches are already wrong, and I know I can’t see her completely just yet (so I am almost afraid to so much as tell you her name, because the WIP is at the point where EVERYTHING I’ve scribbled is liable to change, and probably should, both as I learn and as the story asserts itself).

But something of her character – and fleeting breaths in her voice – is formed, and these things will only grow.

More exciting still is the man.

I’m still in the precious, protective, deeply-skittish-woodland-creature phase of creation here, so I can say even less of him. But he tapped me on the shoulder this week, and … the resulting sketch was terribly exciting.

I think he may speak.

I think he may get to be more than the object of the feminine and royal gaze of our princess – who was only my original reason for writing the novel, but who can’t sustain being the only thing IN the novel, it seems – and who … perhaps … loved  him. At this point, we know only: they *liked*.

He is historical, and that too is kind of thrilling. One of those tantalizing creatures we know existed, but have no information about, but the barest of facts. Primary sources do give him a name, though – which, to me, is almost joyously intriguing. He has a name. We have his name. And he lived, and he breathed. And he is so much more than the mere footnote that moved the princess herself on to the shocking career that was her life.

He was her first shock.

And I think he may speak.

When I first tried to see his face, I didn’t know what color he was, nor any of the workings behind the skin. He did not speak. He was (there is a study in this, my being a female author) entirely the subject of the female gaze.

I saw through his eyes, this week. I have seen almost enough through Plectrudis’s gaze to learn to *look* at the world with hers.

Just cannot wait to hear his voice.


Mo said...

OK, now I am hooked on WIP. It portends. Historians (credentialed, even) will dwell on this post.

DLM said...

Well, if archaeologists will dwell on this post - at least it's off to a mighty fine start!