Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Still Stewing and Brewing

I’m still struggling with “World Enough and Time.” It’s pretty much settled in my mind at this point that Mark knows what he’s doing. That is, he actually builds, not a time machine, but a device to move between realities, parallel universes. Conveniently for him, Kathleen is not terribly interested in Quantum Mechanics, and doesn’t know the difference. So far so good. Here’s the rub. Kathleen is the first person narrator. Not only does she not understand Mark’s work, she doesn’t understand his motivation for that work. Not understanding his motivation, she can’t convey it to the reader, not directly at any rate. And, without understanding Mark’s motivation, the reader only gets half of the story.

The obvious solution is to recast the story in third person narrative. The problem with that is grammar, even language itself on the most fundamental level. There’s a scene in which Kathleen, the Cat who is narrating the story has a mind meld with the Kathleen in a parallel reality. The grammar gets extremely tricky for a few lines, but between first and third person, it remains possible to tell who’s who. If the story were written in third person, this passage would be unintelligible. So, the narrative has to stay in first person; which brings me back to the problem of Mark’s POV. The circumstances in which the characters find themselves do not allow for him to write her a thirty page letter explaining everything, a handy if sometimes slightly forced device. There is a point at which he could make a speech, a point at which her sudden understanding of what has been going on is handy for the plot development but stands, just now, totally unsupported by any kind of previously laid information or clues.

Hmmm... That might work, though a speech, like a letter, has to be handled carefully to prevent its seeming forced. Also, there is the danger of its becoming something of an infodump. I guess the thing to do is to have a speech to pull everything together and spell it out for Cat while placing clues throughout the rest of the story, things that she reports without understanding their significance. Yes, that might work.

Again, writing out my ideas and difficulties has helped me work through them. Or, at least, it has helped me realize that the problem may not be insoluble.

No comments: