Thursday, 25 January 2007

A Tense Moment

Wrote the ending to my ss this morning. It was really a process of elimination: I've removed all the non-essential stuff and focused on the final interaction between Bina and Kov. In its raw state, it's enough to give me goosebumps, so I'm sure I'm on the right lines; will give it a proper once over at the weekend, and then the second draft will be complete and I'll start looking at editing (the ending brings the whole ss to 1700 words! Eek!).
I'm contemplating shifting the tense for the final paragraph. The story is told first-person present tense. I like this because it puts the reader into the moment: they know what the protag knows, and the future is unknown to both. So what happens if I switch over to past tense for the ending? Suddenly, the story has moved on into the afterlife or, at least, to the protag's last few moments of corporeal existence, and the reader plays catch up. Now, the reader no longer knows what Bina knows.
What might be the effects of this?
Well, from the protag's pov, it is a moment of reflection rather than an instant reaction to events as they unfold. I also feel that the protag might have been overwhelmed during those final moments - that they would be too engrossed in events to offer any commentary. In this way, the point from which she commentates is a peaceful point - a moment of resolution.
I can imagine a danger here, where the reader is removed from the action and is now the underdog. And they would also need to adapt to a new tense at a very late part of the story (which could seem unnatural?). But, that said, the ending becomes more poignant because the reader is invited towards a resolution; the reader understands that protag is waiting at the other end, and the moment is given extra significance. This might increase anxiety too: Imagine that you are walking hand-in-hand with somebody you care deeply for - perhaps your child - and then they let go of your hand and hurry off somewhere, out of sight; imagine how tense you would feel, following a trail of breadcrumbs, wondering what has happened to your beloved and what you will discover at the end of the trail.
I think my predominant feeling is that the action is diluted and the personal interaction between Bina and Kov is given priority, and that's where I want the reader to spend their last few moments, with humanity rather than action. Yes, I like that idea. Will have to see how it all reads once I've finished the second pass.

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