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Friday, May 17, 2013

Guest Post from Boomer Lit Author Marian Schwartz


My First Lesson in Point of View

When I was in my early teens, my mother had a subscription to The Ladies Home Journal. I wasn’t interested in the stories or the recipes, but I was fascinated by the column, Can This Marriage Be Saved? The column had a simple format: first, the wife would relate her grievances in the relationship; then the husband would tell what he felt was wrong with the marriage.

The first time I read the column, the wife immediately had my sympathy. Her husband didn’t make an effort to remember her birthday and their anniversary; he belittled her in front of their friends by telling jokes at her expense; he spent weekends either golfing or napping instead of participating in activities with her and their children. No wonder their marriage was in trouble!

But then I read his side. She’d plunged them into debt by spending more than he was earning. Although she didn’t work, their house was a dirty, disorderly mess. When he’d married her, she was slender. Now she was grossly overweight and unappealing.

It was a eureka moment! For the first time, I vividly saw two sides to the same story.

Years later, an image of three middle-aged adults sitting at a dinner table, an attractive married couple and an unmarried man, popped into my mind. The husband was asking the man what his intentions were, and the fellow replied, “I intend to marry your wife.” The image was a gift, and I had to run with it. Since the novel would be about a marriage, it seemed logical that the married couple, Buddy and Ginger Middleton, should alternately tell what happened to them. The result was The Last Season, the Story of a Marriage.



About the Author
Although Marian has lived in Virginia for twenty-five years, she still has a Buffalo, New York accent. She doesn’t miss blizzards, but she does miss Buffalo’s summers.

You can find Marian here:

14 comments:

  1. Definitely enjoyed your blog about Point of View. Thanks for sharing. Look forward to reading your book!

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  2. Isn't it interesting to hear the other side of the same story? Your premise sounds fascinating.

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    1. It seemed to me to be the best way to tell this story. If I'd had the nerve, I might have used the title "Can This Marriage Be Saved."

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  3. I absolutely agree with you, Marian, the other side of the story is what makes for great literature - and I believe that Boomer Lit tends to have a larger-than-normal share of good writers, mainly because Boomer Lit authors are aware of the "other side" probably more so than younger authors. It takes time and experience to acquire the broader point of view...

    However writing the same story from two different POVs brings some technical chllenges of its own: you have to move the story forward and yet avoid repetitions that would lose or bore your reader. So it requires some very astute plot structuring...I'd love to have your views on this, Marian!

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    1. The husband and wife, in this case Buddy and Ginger, share the same experiences as a married couple, but they see these experiences differently. Each character has a unique focus. For example, the one topic Buddy and Ginger never, ever talk about is the reason Buddy quit professional baseball. When Ginger looks back at that experience, she focuses on her feeling of being an outsider, while Buddy tells what it felt like when he was in a batting slump. By relating different aspects of the same experience, the reader gets the whole picture.

      Using two different POV's worked especially well when showing how Ginger's boss, Avery Laird, pursued her. Buddy recognized Laird's intentions before Ginger did. She described her relationship with Laird without fully understanding his motivation. Buddy nailed it in his section. (The novel is divided into 4 sections, with Ginger and Buddy alternately telling the story of what happened to them.)

      It was important to me that these characters, who are approaching the last third of their lives, be attractive and vibrant, still building for yet another future.

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  4. I agree with Beth - your premise sounds interesting. And I enjoy reading stories which tell the same scene/situation from differing points of view. The truth is out there and it's always somewhere between two different points of view, isn't it? :)

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    1. I agree! One of the things I discovered is that by using the two different points of view, the experiences I was telling about became richer because each character gave different details.

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  5. What a terrific premise! Very well explained, Marian, it sounds like a fascinating read! Cheers!
    Marsha

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  6. I just love this, Marian. This is best explanation I've ever read about the how and why of POV...and how important it is to the success of story telling. Well done!

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  7. This reminds me of the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". Several people have been "infected" with a compulsion to meet the aliens at a location that they keep visualizing in their heads. Most draw it. However, when they find their way barred, one leads them to a path hidden on the far side of the chosen landmark. When asked how he knew of it, he responded that he had sculpted the landmark and thus had seen it from all sides. As an amateur historian as well as an author, I approach people and events like that sculptor, looking at them from all sides, before I begin to make judgments or attempt to describe them in a story.

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  8. I also used to love "Can This Marriage Be Saved." What a great illustration of the importance of POV. Thanks for this.

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