Friday, 12 June 2009

Invent or Remember?

I made something of a momentous discovery yesterday.

I have been mulling over a letter that Gertrude Stein wrote to Hemingway. In the letter, she told Hem that she thought the things he invented were superior to the things he remembered.

Worth taking a moment to think about this.

I'm sure that, in part, my mood board was designed to put this idea to the test.
Anyhoo, the mood board was surprisingly unsuccessful.
Lying in bed last night, I was thinking of the descriptions I had made, of the things I had found in the images, and of the things I had remembered. After a little thought, I found the one description that transformed the scene, and it was something that did not exist in the mood board.
I had inadvertantly hit upon the very reason why my mood board was, largely, a failure, there in the post, an afterthought in brackets!

Under the regulations of the narrator's knowledge and make-up!

It's not enough to find those essential details. The essence of those details needs to be the essence that the narrator (in this case, the protag [first-person]) would find.

But that's not quite right either.

Allow me to refer you, gentle reader, to my previous thoughts on the benefits of a Primary Representational System:
In considering the cases for and against, I gave myself this argument:

Because we each have a PRS, by giving one to our characters, they become more like real people, and we can use their PRS to characterise. However, by choosing to prioritise one RS over the others, we jeapordise our chances of forming any rapport with those readers whose PRSs are different to any given character's.

The argument is a bit messy, because I should have distinguished between narrator and character.
I still contend that characters are better defined through a PRIMARY RS.

However, the narrator is not simply a character. The narrator is the umbilical cord between fiction and the reader's reality. Or, less pragmatically, the narrator is part character and part reader.
As such, to imbue the narrator with a Primary RS is to cut away huge chunks of the reader.

Therefore, I now contend that the narrator should not absorb and regurgitate the world through the sieve of a PRIMARY RS. The narrator should, in reasonably equal measures, see, hear, smell, taste and touch the world. In this way, every permutation of reader RS's is satisfied.

Strange Japanese invention #2: Portable office tie.

So back to Gertude.

I think, what she was telling Hem, was that his employment of a PRIMARY RS (taste) went some way towards the criticisms that were often hurled at Hem: That his writing was sterile. (Not to be confused with clinical!)
This might be because:
When Hem remembered, he did so through the filter of his own Representational Systems.
When Hem invented, he did so with a thought for the reader (and, possibly subconsciously, broke from his filter).
Certainly, it's interesting to see how Hem's band of RS's widened as he matured.

N.B. Piaget once said that people learn most when they have to invent. Particularly interesting if you consider that the reader and narrator learn simultaneously.

Still some way to go with these thoughts. But for now, I have enough to understand why some of my descriptions work well, while others feel wrong. PRIMARY for characters, GENERAL for narrator.

Strange Japanese invention #3: Ten-in-one gardening tool.

Here's a thought to leave you with:
What would happen if you took two of your characters and made them into one?


esruel said...

Lol - in Sword, I took one character and made her into two! Second book, actually.
Hmmm, need to absorb this. Wonder, initially, with invention, that the writer/narrator has to think laterally in a more panoramic view, which is recognised more easily by the reader as it's not so personal via the writer.
First thought, so not packaged by me well enough to be an answer!

solv said...

I hope to post some thoughts on 'recycling' very soon ...
Ties in to my thoughts on 'truth'.
Waiting on your opening chapters my friend! Hope all's good.