Monday, July 19, 2010

Greetings from Iowa: POV and Workshopping Drafts

Day Two of the Iowa Summer Writers Festival

Day two started out with an hour at the gym (yay me)!  And then I completed my writing exercise homework.  As today's class topic was Point of View (POV), the assignment was to write about a neighborhood, building, and room in that building in my work in progress from the points of view of both a native and a stranger.  My favorite, and the one I think I'll be able to use in the actual manuscript, was the native POV on the building:
  • Native POV/Building:
Warm golden light spilled out the front windows of the house as Sasha pulled into the driveway.  From the first moment she’d laid eyes on the small yellow cottage with the white porch railings and black shutters, she’d fallen in love with the quaintness of it all.  She half expected a grandmother to be baking an apple pie inside, or for the woman of the house to wear an apron.  She grabbed her purse and got out of the car, musing on how, after ten years of living there, 29 E. Maple still gave her the warm-fuzzies about family and togetherness.  The house was a member of her family.  Their aunt, maybe, the one you could always count on to celebrate the loudest with you when times were good or to drop what she was doing and come to your side when they weren’t.  Sasha pushed through the front door and called, “Honey, I’m home,” and chuckled.  Jason wouldn’t be home for another hour.
  • By contrast, the Stranger POV/Building:
The house was cute, like a dollhouse, and just as small.  Inside, bright colors and light hard woods created a sense of space, but it amazed him to think this was all a million dollars could buy in Northern Virginia.

Our class discussion about POV confirmed my view that second person is complete bunk.  (Sorry to all you second person lovers out there.)  I couldn't imagine reading anything longer than a flash fiction piece in second person point of view:  You this and you that.  Since most people reading here would already have a handle on what first ("I") and third ("he"/"she") person points of view are, I won't belabor the point.  But this thought from the instructor about point of view really struck me:  Point of view is a contract with your reader--and therefore you don't switch mid-narrative.  I like that way of thinking about POV a lot.  And that's why it's so important to understand why you're choosing the POV that you're writing in before you start writing.

We workshopped our first excerpt today--brave Janneke went first with her family-inspired tale of the contemporary impact of tragic World War II events on a Dutch family later transplanted to America.  Very interesting backstory about the internment experiences of the many Dutch people who then lived in the Dutch East India Company.  There are nine people in the seminar, so the rest of the days we'll be workshopping two excerpts per day.  I've got a fantasy and a suspense on tap to read for tomorrow.  My piece is on the chopping block, er, I mean, up to be workshopped on Wednesday.

The day ended with a tasty dinner of Thai chicken satay salad and a YA book reading at the famous Prairie Lights bookstore.  All of which cemented my affection for charming Iowa City even more.

Thanks for reading,

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