Progress, Points of View, and Psychopaths

Made serious headway into Descent in the last month. I finished off the revisions to Draft Two and am now into Draft Three. This one’s to make sure the timeline’s working, that the prose is tight, and (importantly) the character voicing is consistent. If I can keep my nose to the grindstone (or desk really) then the middle of October will see me start to stitch it all together.

As I mentioned earlier, I have written Descent in four separate parts or, as I call them, ‘Threads’. This has helped me no end in keeping the plot line tight, and making sure the characters act and react in the ways I need them to. The downside is that all four threads run in parallel; that is, they all start at the beginning and end at the end of Descent. So, sooner or later, I have to stitch them together to create the novel. In terms of what that means for me work-wise, I will be taking one hundred and eighty two separate sections and shuffling them together to make around about twenty to thirty chapters. It will be time consuming but not too onerous. We’ll see.

The thread approach is also needed to support the point of view (pov) writing I am using. Descent is written entirely in the the first person, so the reader will ‘live’ inside each character as they read. The first person pov is great for getting inside a character’s head, but it adds a different set of risk points to writing than with third person pov. It asks more of readers as they will not have the clear and simple breaks between characters most novels use. It demands a different approach to character identification and interaction from the author and, critically, a shift in timeframe; I’ve found that, to make it work properly, the story must be written in the immediate and current time, rather than the near-past tense.

Descent has its share of villains. Unlike Sha’Kert this is not a novel dominated by characters with basically good, but conflicting, intentions. Descent needs a psychopath, and with first person pov this is a problem. Everything I’ve read or studied agrees that the psychopath’s inner though life is dull and one dimensional, with none of the inner conflict and turmoil the rest of us have. Sure, what the psychopath does can be descriptive and interesting, but if their inner thoughts and processes are written out it becomes dull and boring in a hurry. A non-psychopath may rob a pensioner blind and kill them while on the inside they’re torn apart by their actions; the psychopath would do exactly the same and not even think about it. So I had to modify my character, change them to what one commentator has called ‘psychopath lite’; someone who’s nearly there and still has some inner thought life.

Once I’m closer to having Descent ready to go, and I know how publication will happen, I’ll show you exactly what I mean.