The Guilty Party

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Ah, For the Good Olde Days





One of the things that some folks have a problem with in regards to my fiction writing is the way I occasionally insert what I suppose you would call Authorial Asides. It's just not done, at least not anymore, not if you want the Modern Reader to stay awake, turning pages and telling all of his/her acquaintances what a breathless experience it was to read My Vampire, My Own, A Tale of Blood, Lust and Shopping. I see their point, but I'm not so sure it is or should be a hard and fast rule. Heck, in writing as in any art form the hard and fast rules are pretty much there to light the path for those who want, or need, to have a path in the first place. And most of the time that is just about everybody, since without a path we end up wandering, lost and eventually being eaten by wolves, which is another way saying not finishing the story or finishing a very bad one. Geniuses are at liberty to shun the hard and fast rules, and that's fine. Of course, they risk the rest of us scratching our heads and shuffling quietly away from their creation, but that probably won't bother them because they are geniuses and I hope they take comfort and sustenance from the fact.

But there are rules and there are fashions and in the case of authorial asides, interjections, interruptions, tangents, whatever you want to call them, I say we are talking strictly fashion. And as long as people find joy in reading Dickens, Austen, Collins and the like, there is no reason why somebody sitting in front of a computer can't celebrate the joy of a well phrased observation on the human condition in the midst of a contemporary story.

What brought this to mind is the fact that I have just begun rereading Wilkie Collins' masterful novel The Moonstone. Collins uses what was then (and still is) the quite unconventional method of using multiple narrators, but he also keeps what is one of my favorite things about the eighteenth and nineteenth century novel and that is The Observations of a Keen Eye Expressed With a Precise and Eloquent Pen. Do they always move the story forward? Not really, not in the way all of the wags on the writing sites and many of today's editorial functionaries would define it. But even if all they serve to do is give us insight into what it is to be human and therefore help connect us all to one another with understanding and empathy, I think I will tolerate the extra ten or fifteen seconds it takes to navigate through their verbiage.

Here are a few examples I have written in my commonplace book. As you can see, sometimes the easiest way to get away with this particular offense is to write in the first person. Of course, for many unwary writers, this is also a perfect reason to stay away from writing in first person.

I mean, while one lives for ones Art, so to speak, and cares little for the public's praise or blame and all that sort of thing, one can always do with something to paste into ones scrapbook, can one not?---P.G. Wodehouse, Bertie Wooster See It Through

There are very few moments in a man's existence when he experiences so much ludicrous distress, or meets with so little charitable commiseration, as when he is in pursuit of his own hat.---Charles Dickens, The Pickwick Papers

Elsewhere he is delighted with the presence of what is new, there tormented by the absence of what is old. Elsewhere he is content to be his present self; there he is smitten with an equal regret for what he once was and for what he once hoped to be.---Robert Louis Stevenson, The Master of Ballantrae

Interestingly enough, the gods of the Disc have never been bothered much about judging the souls of the dead, and so people only go to hell if that's where they believe in their deepest heart that they deserve to go. Which they won't do if they don't know about it. This explains why it is important to shoot missionaries on sight.---Terry Pratchett (oh yes, Pratchett can get away with it) , Eric

A cheerleader's function is to lead a sympathetic gathering in urging their team to victory, not to taunt an apparently defeated and demoralized foe. ---Alan Hutcheson, Boomerang

Go Ye Forth and Do Likewise

No comments:

A Bit About Me

My photo
I am a writer with a longtime interest in photography. I'm a dad, husband, photographer, and not very good guitarist. My first novel, Boomerang, is available in both paperback and ebook form at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.com. As a matter of fact, my second novel, The Baer Boys, can be found at exactly the same places.