I am currently taking an adventure in writing a story from a perspective type I haven’t really done before. Most of my novels are written in what I think is called storytellers: something with elements of both omniscent/near-omniscient and a deep 3rd, common in many of the novels I’ve read from a couple decades ago.
This one demanded something else. I’m writing about Moon, a boy from a primitive tribal people who live on the plains that belong to the Guardian of Storms and worship her, who is kidnapped and taken for a slave by a civilization with much higher technology, one that might be the remains of the technological civilization the Guardian of Storms destroyed long ago, a story that is essentially the origin story of Moon’s people. Those experiences and that encounter, combined with Moon’s personality, launched me into a much deeper, more limited perspective before I even noticed it. I think it is what is called a deep, limited 3rd: to me it feels a bit like the feel of 1st person, but with 3rd person pronouns, and the feel of present tense (though I’ve never actually read or written anything of any length in present tense, so I don’t know about this one), but the verbs are past tense.
So far, it is fun and challenging and intuitive. Even when Moon doesn’t have the words I use to tell the story (I don’t think in words, and I haven’t thought about whether Moon does or not, but I’m not really writing it in 1st person, so to me the objective is to give the feel of Moon’s thoughts and reactions, not to use words that could be easily translated into his language), there’s a significance to the words I choose that’s different from the significance when I write in a perspective that allows more distance.
This might be the funnest part of it: without consciously thinking about it, when I’m writing Moon, I write things as he thinks them. An example I noticed is that, when he’s chained or bound, I never call the bindings or the chains ‘his’. They are always the chains, the bindings. Little tiny word choices like this, that I probably would never consciously notice if I were reading (though they would inform my vision of the story), are significant and fundamental. And they come naturally.
But even here, it makes some things harder: I have to establish his perspective and his attitude completely from within, even – or perhaps especially – when it’s something that’s not “normal” or “typical.” I cannot say that he did not think something, when it’s something that does not even occur to him to think. I cannot say that he does not feel something, when it’s something that would never even occur to him. This makes what I don’t say as important as what I do, in a way that I’m not aware of it ever having been before, and creates the challenge of drawing attention to that. Of making the reader hopefully notice when something has never been thought or mentioned, not necessarily in an intellectual way, I don’t care about that, but in an emotional way.
In a way, this challenge isn’t entirely new: I’ve always had to wrestle with it in my writing and my attempts to set emotion, tone, and culture, because even to mention that something is not, lays a foundation of it: it makes it part of the background, defied perhaps, but present. But this challenge is tripled writing Moon and his perspective in this way. There’s no way to put distance between the story and the telling of it, and interpret his responses or the things that happen to him.
PS. This is also the re-release date for Epoch of the Promise: Dawn Unseen and Epoch of the Promise: Vision’s Light, as well as Epoch of the Promise: Wings of Healing’s first time out in the wild!