Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Looking in the mirror and seeing only glass . . .

One of the problems with the first person point of view in fiction is that it's difficult for the main character to describe him/herself (e.g, I am 5' tall and have hair the color of morning dew) in a way that sounds natural to the story. Authors get creative with describing their main characters: they have their characters catch glimpses of themselves in car windows or in bathroom sink faucets (see Charles Baxter's "Snow"). Sometimes they have other characters reveal what the main character looks like through dialogue.

One of the strengths of first person is that it showcases the voice and thoughts of the main character. This, however, can turn into a pitfall if too many of the main character's thoughts are revealed or if the character whines too long or cries too much or is without hope or is overly biased or annoying.

I think for the last couple of days, I have been living my life too much in the annoying-mode of first person. I think that maybe, I should look in the mirror and see only glass, and maybe the silver foil that is behind, but not me. I've had too much of me.


Betty Edit said...

I like how all your posts end in ... That is a trend you should continue.

I sometimes sit and stare in the mirror for minutes on end until I realize I am no longer looking at myself, but at an image of a strange woman who is completely unfamiliar to me.

I think for the last couple of days you have been talking too much to me, and thus subjecting your mind to the careful scrutiny which is normally employed by MY little brain in order to formulate questions and hypotheses.

And I think you should change your second paragraph: "...or if the character whines too long or cries at all..."

Olive Kite said...

I believe they will all end in . . . , because that's how my brain works: nothing is complete, nothing is fixed; everything is an exploration, a possible deviation.

Most of the time, when I look in the mirror, I don't recognize me. I prefer to live on the inside.

No comment to paragraph #3 other than it's not true.

Ahh, so you're right. I always cross out TEARS in manuscripts. But, if you read my very second attempt at writing, you will find lots of tears. Live and learn.

Sheila said...

I try to not look in mirrors unless I absolutely have to. Hmm-- does that make me a vampire?

Olive Kite said...

No. You're definitely not a vampire. Well, actually, I haven't seen you for a while, so . . .