Last week I posted a an extract from a short story by Ray Bradbury where he used a second person narrator. The effect of this narrative view point is very interesting as it immediately involves the reader in the perspective to the point of complicity or collusion. Our ‘I’ becomes the ‘you’ and thus we can be positioned and manipulated from the beginning. Now we may attempt to resist this. We may disagree with the premise that we are suddenly someone else, but as a story instigator, it works brilliantly and even the most ‘stuck’ or reluctant writer cannot help but to write!
And then as an exercise we decided to play with different points of view using the original piece. This was very interesting and revealed the importance of tone and the shift in nuance through POV.
At the writing group we first tried to write an opening using the second person narrator ‘you.
Here is my attempt:
You don’t like this house. You never have. You have a nose for falsity. You sniff the air and there it is, the careful hypocrisy of the hall. How strange. Your own steps make no sound. You’ve designed your walk in this way.
Now you climb the stairs and regret the effort. Your chest rebels and as usual you blame the house. It is an unloved place.
Your memories are without affection. All those holidays captured on his Kodak camera. Lines of set smiles on these walls.
Today is your birthday. You have come of age. You touch the door at the top of the stairs.
You open it and go inside.
Then I rewrote into another point of view.
I don’t like the house. I never have. When I sniff the air, there it is, the foundation deep falsity, the enduring hypocrisy of this hall. My own steps are silent. I’m free from sound. I can climb your stairs and pretend to regret the effort. ‘Oh my rebellious heart’ I say. ”It must be the house”.
Always this house.
After all, this is an unloved place. All those events stretching behind me, without affection.Your Kodak projector. Lines of set smiles. The Christmas slide show. My loitering in dismal hope. So much awkwardness.
But today is your birthday. I have brought you a present. I’m at the top of your stairs. Now which is your door?
Oh yes. I think this is it.
And then I tried third person POV.
Paul didn’t like the house. He secretly loathed its hypocrisy. He even confided once to someone he should have remembered that even the foundations were false.’It’s a suburban tower of Babel’he told them over a drink.
When he came back for the birthday party, no one heard him. He’d developed this special way of walking since he’d been away, so quiet even the house couldn’t hear him. He liked it that way.
Of course the stairs still made his chest rebel.’ Same old reaction’ he thought aloud.
Then at the top of the stairs, he took a moment to stare at the doors. He pretended that he couldn’t make up his mind which belonged to the birthday boy.
‘Is that you?’ said an imperious voice.
‘Oh yes’ said Paul. ‘I think perhaps it is. ‘
Carol Ann Duffy 15 ideas!
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