Revising Fiction: A Handbook for Writers by David Madden

By David Madden

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Example text

Now the point of view is reversed: it is Popeye who sees Benbow. From beyond the screen of bushes which surrounded the spring, Popeye watched the man drinking. A faint path led from the road to the spring. Popeye watched the man—a tall, thin man, hatless, in worn gray flannel trousers and carrying a tweed coat over his arm— emerge from the path and kneel to drink from the spring. Having opened with this scene, from Popeye's point of view, Faulkner restructured the novel, and created new relationships among the characters through whose perceptions he presented events: Gowan Stevens, Popeye, Temple Drake, and Horace Benbow (whose point of view had dominated the novel's galley version).

The reader must remember that the first-person narrator is not the author. The first-person narrator may be a major participant, a minor participant, or a witness to the story he tells; or he may simply retell a story he has heard. " He may tell the story to a clearly identified listener, or to an implied or to an ambiguous audience. Or he may write his story for a particular reader-character (as in a story told through letters) or for readers generally, as a kind of autobiography or memoir. The form of writing may be a report, a diary, a journal.

In his or her development, the writer goes through four stages in the matter of revision, and you may recognize where you are. 1. He makes a mistake, but fails to see it. 2. He makes a mistake, he sees it, but doesn't know how to fix it— or reimagine it. He hasn't learned enough about the techniques of fiction. 3. He makes a mistake, he sees it, he has learned how to fix it, because he has learned some of the techniques of fiction, but he just can't do it. 4. He makes a mistake, he sees it, he knows how to fix it, he fixes it—and by now he has learned that solving technical problems in the creative process is just as exciting as writing the first draft.

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