Alice in Space

Posted on 02/03/2012 by


Wizards is written in the first person. Mostly to make it easier for me to lie to you. This is probably a terrible reason.

And, yeah, it’s also because I realised when I started writing for Wizards that the story choices I make are different if I’m writing in third person than they are if I’m writing in first. Like they’re forming in a slightly different part of my brain. And while I can alter something that’s originally written in one POV to make it fit another*, it’s going to feel different than if it had been written that way originally.

So we can say that’s why I chose it. Or because first person suits these characters, brings you in even closer into their experience. But really it’s because it’s easier to keep secrets.

The problem is, because I have this… thing with wanting to be in people’s heads it’s multiple first person. So I can crawl behind the eyes of both my main characters in turn. And to start with, it was easy. It was straight A, B, A, B. Each chapter was a scene from Gray’s point of view followed by one of Jamie’s. But then… well, then there was a chapter that was all Gray, and then one that was all Jamie. And if I’m messing with the pattern like that I feel like I ought to give the reader a little heads up so they don’t get lost.

Putting the name of the POV character at the top of the scene is obvious. Except that would require me to, you know, tell you their names. And. Well. I don’t want to. Remember the thing with the lying? Yes. This is what I’m lying to you about. Well, one of the things. So. No names.

Which leaves, I don’t know, descriptive epithets? But straight up descriptions seem kind of boring and two-dimensional. If I was going to do that I’d like to choose epithets that play on the things that have defined their lives, but don’t define who they are. Highlighting the difference between who you are and who other people think you are. But that gives me ‘THE WIZARD’ and ‘THE <REDACTED>’. And um… you may have noticed I censored the second one? Cause I’m not sure I want you to know that up front.

So maybe how they see each other? ‘THE WIZARD’ and ‘THE STRANGER’ — emphasis on ‘strange’. But, I don’t know, seems goofy.

I was complaining — er, talking intelligently about this to Paul M recently and sort of offhand suggested ‘ALICE’ and ‘THE RABBIT’** to which he responded with ‘DANTE’ and ‘VIRGIL’. Which is perfect. Because it continues (and progresses) the pattern of one leading the other down… well, I guess in this scenario the bottom of the rabbit hole is hell.***

Image of small animal seen against a night sky as if from the bottom of a deep, somewhat surreal hole

Um. So. Thoughts? You know, about this book you’ve never read? Should Alice follow Virgil down the rabbit hole into hell? Or, um, something else?


* I did that to an entire book once. In four weeks. We do not speak of it.

** I’m not sure about it though. It seems weird to directly reference another book like that. But then, there are a not insignificant number of Alice in Wonderland allusions in the text already — largely because Jamie tends to think of his life as being lived ‘through the mirror’. So I guess I’m already kind of there… (I also feel a little badly about labelling Gray as ‘ALICE’. I mean, he’s not a child. Or blonde. Or a girl. But then, Jamie doesn’t have whiskers and a tail either…)

*** This sort of makes me want to proceed through the book with different choices in each transition. Unfortunately that would wholly defeat the identificatory nature of the headers in the first place. There’s nothing stopping me using Dante and Virgil in the next book though, I suppose.