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Wide Boy Eddie and the wall of doom

So Wide Boy Eddie, who I think I like very much despite all his typical diamond geezer patter, arrives to put in the bathroom yesterday morning. I was in a fairly foul mood at having to get up at 8am when I'd been up until 3am the night before (although to be fair this is because I was reading rather disreputable fanfic, the love of which dare not speak its name *g*)

Does anyone else get to this point where they're not doing anything but they just don't want to go to sleep? Or is this just me? I meant to log off two hours ago, said goodnight to C and everything. But I don't want to go to sleep.

In other news, I cannot stop listening to Black Lab's "Keep Myself Awake".

The Anvil Of Dramatic Irony plummets towards my head.

Anyway, the fragrant and lovely Eddie calls me down from my deeply intelligent morning activity -- lying in bed half-asleep, actively encouraging a dream in which my hallway is twice the size it really is and Laurence Llewelyn Bowen is painting my floor in pink swirls -- and points to the wall.

"Seedat," he says, in the tone which all householders come to dread.

The wall, from which he has removed the uber-ugly avocado-coloured tiles is a horrid grey, ill colour. He pokes at it. A lump of what is meant to be cement crumbles off. It's like marshmallow. There's an eggy fug of drains and damp in the air. There's a worm INSIDE the wall.

It dawns on me that I am beyond buggered.

Long story short: I have to pay to get the wall replastered and the FUBARed plasterboard wall must be boarded over with plywood and painted with resin. The person who owned this house before me was a jackass. I have to give Wide Boy Eddie 415 quid in cash tomorrow. Ouch.

* * *

Someone made the most kind, lovely offer to help me out yesterday. Shame I can't take them up on it. Some people really are wonderful.

* * *

I am reading a really good thriller -- "Forty Words for Sorrow", Giles Blunt. Set in Quebec, about a smalltown killer, possibly bent hero with a wife in the madhouse, smart, sparky heroine. I'm about 120 pages in and I like the atmosphere and the characters.

If this book pulls a "Wire in the Blood" switcheroo, I shall be miffed. I loved 'Wire in the Blood"s twist because it was so audacious that it took my breath away but I don't want to see it again.

It also probably broke a million rules on POV but -- confession time -- I think all that fic insistence on rigid POV delineation as anything other than a very rough rule of thumb is specious bullshit, to which people cling in order to point at other people and feel superior. A million and one excellent books shift POV within sections, chapters, and even paragraphs. I'm not advocating ping-pong POV, but all this stuff where people point it out when it switches and get all sniffy is just bollocks.

Before you got into fic discussion did you notice persistent POV switches in books you read? Honestly, I'm interested. I didn't notice it hitherto, but I do now -- although it really doesn't bother me. I'm more annoyed that I notice it. I was wondering if this was something that was taught in schools as a "bad thing".

* * *
I think maybe I was talking arse about Bad Blood yesterday.

Eh. This often happens.



( 12 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2002 06:50 pm (UTC)
Humans are superior!

You and I have hammered at this more than once. I don't think we're ever going to agree completely. Cause I *like* rules -- the give me structure.

Switching pov is fine -- but I generally do like to know whose brain I'm inhabiting. I don't think that that's too much to ask. There are people who can swap pov mid-paragraph (LeGuin, fr'instance) and I won't even notice. But I think you need to have a hell of a lot of control to pull that off, and you should be relatively consistent with it -- doing it as a stunt draws attention to it.

Now you make me want to pull out LeGuin's book and reread what she said about pov. Because I am probably talking out my arse.

... and today's snippet, I realize, could be read as either omniscient or a very loose 3rd-person. Huh.

Jan. 15th, 2002 07:21 pm (UTC)
I think maybe I was talking arse about Bad Blood yesterday.

Well, if you mean the part where you summarized why some people don't like the episode, then no, you weren't. Not that you're obligated to agree with the complaints, of course, but it *was* a succinct and accurate summary of that point of view (which happens to be my POV on the ep, most of the time. Sometimes I waver.)
Jan. 15th, 2002 07:57 pm (UTC)
Ack, ack.
ACK at the bathroom. This is un-good. Your summary of it all, however, gave me giggles.

Also, re: POV-- I was completely unaware of this sort of thing, except in a very general way, until fic. Mostly, until I had listened to enough rantings on the subject to become highly sensitive to it.

Which is to say, I blame Suela. ::g::

Also, re: Bad Blood-- eh, not arse. It worked for me. I'm also shamelessly fond of the episode, just because it's the first one that I remember watching, way back when, that made me shriek with laughter ("I... did... NOT!"). Furthermore in the not-arse vein, I find that the key to giving me back my appreciation of the show as it once was has been to just plain stop caring and stop watching the current thing. It is enough to listen to everyone's yammerings on the subject.
Jan. 15th, 2002 08:06 pm (UTC)
POV switching
> Before you got into fic discussion did you notice persistent POV switches in books you read? <

No, I can't say that I did. Of course that may mostly have to do with my lack of observation and whatnot. *g* Seriously, I never gave it much thought until I got into fanfic, where it's such a big deal. Maybe because, when POV switching is done thoughtfully and well -- as it presumably was in the books I was reading, since I don't remember being ping-ponged -- it can be okay. If the writer doesn't know what they're doing, though, it can be so distracting and awful. And since I don't actually know how to write, and am just making it all up as I go along, I find it's better for me to stick with one POV at a time. *g* Anyway, I don't have a problem with more skillful writers playing fast and loose with the "rules."

Jan. 15th, 2002 08:50 pm (UTC)
POV and the hoppy switching and such.
Eh, I'm sure I'm one of those people who you mean when you say:
...I think all that fic insistence on rigid POV delineation as anything other than a very rough rule of thumb is specious bullshit, to which people cling in order to point at other people and feel superior.

Heehee. Well, I think it just comes from doing so much beta.

Basically, I don't mind if people switch POV, or ping-pong back and forth -- I've done it myself, as a matter of fact. I think the thing that makes me bitch is seeing it done badly. It's often part and parcel of a larger realm of not-so-good fic. If someone really knows what they're doing, I probably wouldn't notice it as much. (Although it's hard for me not to, now, hence my getting all caught up when Thomas Harris did it in "Silence of the Lambs," as you'll remember.) For me, it's more of the MulderPOV, MulderPOV, MulderPOV, MulderPOV, one sentence of ScullyPOV, Mulder POV thing that would make me all crazy.

And no, I doubt I noticed before I got into reading fanfic. I don't remember being taught anything about it in school or college, but I never took any creative writing courses. Of course, I don't remember half the things I was taught, so this isn't a freak occurrence of amnesia; it's just me. Heaven knows I'm not strong on story skills, so maybe I *am* just trying to feel superior by criticizing things I understand. It's a distinct possibility.
Jan. 16th, 2002 05:38 am (UTC)
Re: POV and the hoppy switching and such.
Robbie, no, I don't mean you. (and stop that) And C, no, we will never agree about it. *g*

I agree with you about the sudden boing out of POV being crazy-making, because I don't like it much either. However, I think that mid-scene POV handoffs are fine, particularly when they're done with skill.

In the earliest version of Arizona Highways I read, Fialka had mid-scene POV switches (not many) but the way she accomplished them was skilled I thought. POV-switching would coincide with entrances, exits, handovers of objects which had significance and I thought they worked. She got rid of them all in the end and it wasn't to the detriment of the piece that she did that so... uh, I forget what my point is. Oh yeah, that they're not necessarily bad.

I just think that sometimes on the newsgroup, some people used to take a story which was imperfect but challenging in some way and used POV switches as an excuse to dismiss it as a piece of garbage, which is just idiotic. I always imagine them as being like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers, pointing and squealing. (again, no one here)

Alas, I see that I am the POV leper, getting cross about something that everyone else regards as normal rule application, shaking my beta bells and yelling "uncool, uncool" *g*

I just think that rules can as easily be a straitjacket as scaffolding.
Jan. 16th, 2002 05:52 am (UTC)
Re: POV and the hoppy switching and such.
Why does "skint" sound so much better than "broke"? Why can't I say "skint" without feeling self-conscious?

"Wuthering" is also a cool word. This is so not fair.

I noticed POV switches before fic, but I don't know if I noticed them before getting serious about writing. I don't remember before getting serious about writing. (I was a very serious kid, okay?)

The overstrictness on POV isn't unique to fic; it comes up in a lot of writing workshops, because it's a relatively easy thing that beginning writers can try, and it will improve most stories somewhat. It doesn't help those writers whose natural voice is omniscient, or who are really trying to do something that benefits from switching POVs.

I haven't met that many writers who gravitate towards omniscient, but maybe they're all giving up in despair at being told they're doing everything wrong. That's a scary thought. I'm all depressed now. I think I will pick the cartoon hug icon to cheer myself up.
Jan. 16th, 2002 08:54 am (UTC)
Re: POV and the hoppy switching and such.
Big confession time - I love omniscient. Almost all the snippets that become drafts for me start out in om pov, it's just what I do naturally. But there's usually such an outcry about omniscient (not by my betas, just in general) that I get wigged out early on and change it. -Rev
Jan. 16th, 2002 08:59 am (UTC)
Re: POV and the hoppy switching and such.
No, I didn't pay that much attention to pov before I started writing myself. It wasn't reading fic as such that made me aware of it so much as trying to write it. If I look back on earlier fic and earlier stories it's almost always been one pov, intimate 3rd (or first person). So I lean toward that anyway. But I don't recall noticing or being bothered by bouncing povs until I started writing fic in the last few years.

Um, no, that's not really correct. Dunnett made me aware of pov, because it's hard not to notice when the lead character in a six-volume series gets no more than a dozen pages in his own pov, and the rest of the story is told by those around him. I would say Dunnett used omniscient with a level of skill few could match.

I think that mid-scene POV handoffs are fine, particularly when they're done with skill.

And I think that's the point there. I don't feel capable of handling those handoffs very well, and I've seen few ficcers who are. I know one of Meg's last XF stories got a lot of attention for the pov-switches, and yet they still distracted me. LeGuin and Dunnett don't distract me. (And yes I'm aware of the absurdity of holding anyone up to that standard *g*.)

Part of the issue for me is consistency: if it's done just once in a while it stands out too much. Do it all the way through so it's clear it's intentional, and I'll be much more forgiving.

I never did see the first version of AH that you did -- by the time I came on board she had taken most of those out except for the one at the end of the scene on the clifftop.

Of course, I'm a hypocrite, I realize -- "Ferryman" has a pov-flip in the last paragraph, where it goes from Scully to Skinner. I should be brave enough to try this more often, and then perhaps I would agree with you more. I think I'm just unconvinced of my ability and thus skeptical of everyone else's. Which, yes, shortchanges everyone else. Feh.

Jan. 16th, 2002 04:39 am (UTC)
I think maybe I was talking arse about Bad Blood yesterday.

No arse at all. You explained people's reactions quite well. And it was good to hear, BTW, as my own utter enjoyment of that episode can sometimes (okay, most of the time) blind me to even tiny problems that people may have with it. Aside from that green glowy-eyed thing. It always looked too fake for me, like they took the glowing bugs from Darkness Falls and CGIed them into Bad Blood. *g*

Before you got into fic discussion did you notice persistent POV switches in books you read?

I think I noticed, but I don't think I recognized any annoyance I might have had with POV switching. I certainly didn't use the abbreviation "POV" if I did. ;)

I know that in school I was taught to recognize changing POVs, to see how the same story can be told in different ways by different people. I know that I read a series of short stories that illustrated that point, but of course I have no idea who wrote them. Bother. So as others have said, it's only when the POV is wavering for no reason other than the author not paying enough attention to POV (like having one paragraph stuck in the middle of a ten paragraph narration that's clearly from a different POV & interrupts the thought flow of the story) that POV shifts become a hindrance to my appreciation of a story.

Incidentally, I think I could read your entries til the cows come home. You describe plumbing, political commentary, and general life in the most interesting & amusing way. :)
Jan. 16th, 2002 08:05 pm (UTC)
Before you got into fic discussion did you notice persistent POV switches in books you read?

Yes and no. No, in that it wasn't something that jumped up and down on my forehead. Yes, in that there's a scene in War and Peace when we slowly move from inside the brain of a young soldier, describing the battle he's just been in, to outside that soldier's brain, as we're told that he is unconsciously turning what was very unnarrative and confusing and gross and occasionally boring into an anecdote, and in that process of making the story palatable to others, he's convincing himself it's what he saw as well.

Also an essay I read -- some obscure book in college? About the dinner party scene in the first part of Dune, in which the POV is handed off at least 5 times around the table. The whole point of the scene is to assemble most of the major players and let them assess each other and the lines of alliance, all simultaneously.

Neither Tolstoy nor Frank Herbert have anything to do with fanfic. But so much fanfic is so bad that harping on any one "unbreakable" rule has got to make it better, just because of statistics. Once a writer has completed one story with successful POV borders, then she has leave from me to try what she pleases. But not till then, you hear?!
Jan. 17th, 2002 10:52 am (UTC)
POV switches and your bathroom wall
Bathroom wall:

First of all, it's plenty easy to fix it yourself if you just have: a) a measuring tape b) a hammer and c) a spatula-thing to spread joint compound with.

Trust me. I fixed Heather and Geoff's bathroom which had the same problem as yours right down to the bugs in the wall, I might add, while I was down in Memphis for the weekend. Water had leaked all in there from cracks between the tiles and had totally fubared the wallboard.

What you want to use is this kick ass cement-based wallboard that is specifically for use near water and under tile called wonderboard. You can see the difference between it and regular wallboard becuase it is a) gray b) very cement-like and c) has wires inside like chickenwire to support it. It is heavier than regular chalky wallboard, but it's what you should use. Then you don't have to do the weirdo sealing thing you were talking about because this should not allow damp to creep anywhere.

Your local home center should cut it for you on the big paneling saw for you. Just know your dimensions. An entire 8x 4 foot sheet of this stuff cost us $8 at Home Depot. Figure twice that for England as they rape you all on prices.

Tiling is pathetically easy. You can do this yourself and do not need your wideboy friend. Plus, then you can be all stylish and make it lurvely as well. I am filled with tiling enthusiasm these days after having done the aforementioned bathroom and my fireplace surround. I have to get pictures of the fireplace up. It is groovy, if I do say so myself.

POV shifting.

I have been officially ass-raped over this issue by Ordover on the rec.arts.sf.written newsgroup under my real name. He told me that my novel which uses POV shifting as an integral part of the plot sucked. This without ever having read a word of it, mind you.

It hasn't sold, but it didn't suck. At least DAW didn't think so. They read it twice before deciding it was "too long for a first novel from a first time author" and "doesn't have a big enough payoff to justify the length". Not a word about the POV shifting.

So, fuck that noise. If there's a REASON for the POV to shift, then it's as it should be. If it's handled skillfully and doesn't make your head snap around with POV whiplash, so what?

I am currently reading some romance novels that do it VERY BADLY. And then it is terribly jarring. But it also can be done well and seamlessly, or if not seamlessly, then rationally so you know why the POV has suddenly shifted during a scene. I, personally, use POV shifting in my novel to tell you what happens in different parts of the same battle or how two people with fairly opposing viewpoints are viewing events without having to talk about the events twice.
( 12 comments — Leave a comment )

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