Reliable Narrator

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Who tells the story?

This question looms large when setting out to circumnavigate a novel. Indeed, it might be the most important question of all. The narrator is everything to a story. The lens for the reader’s view. The grasp of the reader’s hand. The whisper in the reader’s ear. Get the narrator right and a lot of bumps on the road may be smoothed out. Get the narrator wrong and you’ll end up in a ditch, calling for a tow truck.

In my previous work, the question of who tells the story tended to have ready answers. Kindling was always going to be the alternating voices of father and son. The fabulist fable of Infinite Blue would only ever be served by a Brothers Grimm-esque third person. In Most Valuable Potential and Munro vs the Coyote / Exchange of Heart, the narrator needed to be a guide for the reader as they engaged with experiences outside of the mainstream for many: those of the the immigrant and the disabled. Are You Seeing Me? wasn’t quite as straightforward — the original draft had much of the third act delivered from mother Leonie’s perspective; during it’s two and a half year struggle to find a home, that approach was abandoned in favour of focusing solely on the twins (a decision that played an enormous role in the work finally securing a deal).

Overall, choice of voice? Relatively painless.

Then along comes Boy in the Blue Hammock.

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Fireproof Garage

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Fireproof Garage #5 – The Soundtrack Of My Life

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Fireproof Garage #4 – Fireproof Garage

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Fireproof Garage

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Fireproof Garage #3 – It’s Like Herpes

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Fireproof Garage

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Fireproof Garage #2 – If These Jerks Can Make A Podcast…

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Fireproof Garage #1 – Technical Difficulties

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Fireproof Garage

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Billy, Don’t Use My Number

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Numbers

Writers love to tell you their word counts.

“Just did 500 words before breakfast!”

“Got my 1,000 words done for the day!”

“30,000 words done on the new novel!”

We take great delight in passing on the numbers we produce. I have been no exception. If you trawled back through my Facebook and Twitter posts, you would find statements similar to those above (though probably not without profanity).

Well, I’m here to tell you that’s all in the past. Aside from those punching the keyboard, no digits will ever again offer any implied measure of my authorial efforts. And if my colleagues on the shelves have a high regard for the craft – as I know they do – they will avoid any future reference to word counts, too.

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