Monday, 24 January 2011

Deep Third

On Friday I got into a discussion with a couple of writer friends over Point of View, and we wondered why Deep Third had suddenly become so popular. I ventured the opinion it might have something to do with television, where sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, we are made privy with every detail of the protagonist’s life. A new series has begun with Rufus Sewell as Aurelio Zen and slowly, week by week, we are picking up on his past life and how he thinks. Not that he tells us; but television has many techniques at its disposal: dialogue, pictures, flashbacks, gossip and dreams to name but a few.

Is it like writing ‘I said, I ran, I thought’ all the time? asked one writer. Well, yes, it is - and no, its not. It’s a mixture of the two. Third and First Person are written in a way that requires dialogue tags and verbs such as see, notice, understand, feel, realize and think. All of these words come under the dreaded term “Telling” as opposed to “Showing.”

Compare the following passages. a) I ran across the bridge thinking I could hear footsteps behind me, and regretted wearing my wonderful new high heels. I hadn’t gone far when my heel jammed in the pavement.

b)Jane turned onto the bridge. Footsteps followed her. Imagination? Possibly, but that nasty-looking teenager at the corner might have followed her. She walked faster. Damn this tight skirt. And these heels were killing her already. If only she’d waited for David instead of flouncing off in a huff. She snatched a swift glance over her shoulder, and caught her heel in a crack in the pavement. Her heart leapt to her throat. Oh, Lord. The shoe was stuck fast.

Deep Third might take more words, but the effect should grab the readers’ attention by making them feel they are one with Jane, stuck with one expensive shoe rammed into the pavement and a possible stalker approaching. Deep Third is not unlike acting. The writer must imagine themselves into Jane’s position, become her and then describe what she sees and feels. Some might say it's vicarious pleasure, fright, adventure.

But at least in this world, it is safe!
(And the pic is the hotel at the top of the Gornergrat railway, 10,000 feet up in the mountains)

1 comment:

Vegetarian Cannibal said...

I never knew what "Deep Third" was until today...and yeah, I like it better than the first example. I'm inspired. Thank you for posting this!