Tuesday, 10 January 2012

New Spring Chapters 19-22

When Moiraine and Lan first meet, it is through Moiraine’s Point of View. Every decision she makes is explained and seems sensible to the reader. Then we get Lan’s point of view and his response to all of the sensible actions Moiraine took. Lan finds her insulting and she fails to make any of the impressions she hoped to with him, mostly due to the rigid codes of behavior and honour through which Lan tries to interpret everything .
This technique of reversing the point of view to show how poorly the cultures or characters understand one another will be used frequently throughout the series. An alternative way of presenting the scene would be with an omniscient narrator, so that you wouldn’t have to wait to understand where the miscommunication lies, you’d just get both viewpoints on the spot. But with the third person limited viewpoint, as used here, the reader is forced to spend more time getting into that character’s head and understanding that one interpretation. The reader might identify more with that character and their actions, at the cost of immediately understanding the plot and the repercussions of the actions taken. It then takes immersion in another character to give the reader the full understanding of what took place. And you can’t just leap into Lan’s interpretation here, there is some setup in explaining what his expectations were and how Moiraine has broken them.
All in all, this technique gives up the speed of plot advancement in favour of character development and a stronger understanding of those characters. After a scene like this, you could imagine how Moiraine might react in other uncertain situations, and get a sense that Lan will be insulted at anything that breathes at him with the wrong inflection, but will swallow the insult as his honour dictates.
The greatest satisfaction comes from seeing Lan back up Moiraine’s threats to the formidable force of brigands on the road to Chachin. I’m a gonna count to ten! One! Two! Never mind, they’re gone. This is the first real anticipation I’ve felt in the book. It’s all been entertaining so far, but I’ve mostly just been following where it meanders (again, due to its structure where this section was the middle of the book, not the penultimate section). Now, seeing Lan and Moiraine take on opponents together, readers should be anticipating a threat that will take their combined might to overcome.
Writing Lesson:
Point of View and Narrator can affect the speed of plot and depth of character revealed. If you are showing a character with an ‘alien’ behavior, look for ways to make that behavior understandable and thus believable to readers.

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