I grew up in a household filled with books. My father worked in publishing, nothing glamorous, on the sales end of things, but he constantly brought books home for us. This prompted the dream of actually writing fiction as a way of making a living, so I threw my hat into the publishing ring and wrote gay erotica for awhile, and once I found my footing, I decided to take it a step further.
Macho was my first step. I wrote this novella while my father was in the process of dying, and it ended up being darker than I wanted, but I also felt the writing style was distancing for the reader. This is how I am in real life, and I think it’s an impediment to getting a reader hooked into the story. So how could I overcome my natural inclination for emotional distance?
I looked to authors I loved to read in order to find a solution to this problem, and two came to mind, both very capable writers who really know how to bond readers with their characters.
Mercy Celeste is a successful author of M/M fiction, and I enjoy reading her work because she really gets into the heads of the characters. A great example is Out of The Blues. She totally inhabits the head of Mason, and I want to write in a way that gives readers a similar experience. I’m currently living in a similar small town in Georgia, and I totally understood what Mason was going through. I usually live up north, and being here is a bit of a culture shock.
After my father passed away, I read a book by Seth King called Straight. I fell in love with this book because of the writing style, and the way he stripped the author voice out of the narrative. I realized, if I want that emotional intimacy to take place between the reader and the book, deep pov was the way to go, at least for my next book.
For those who don’t read gay fiction, think of Katniss in The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. The entire story is told in first person from her perspective, in a style that is now called Deep Point of View.
Writing in deep point of view requires the writer to take themselves out of the story, and allow the characters to completely speak on their own. Here is an example from my latest work in progress, Saints of Liberty Park.
“You’re a man now, an imperfect man who has no place here. Pack your bags and get out.” Dad’s forehead wrinkled and his eyes narrowed. I was caught off guard, unable to comprehend what he was talking about.
“Dad, I’m sorry, I don’t understand? What have I done? I…”
“There is nothing else for you to say. You shall not lie with a male as one lies with a female; it is an abomination. It is written in Leviticus, and we follow God’s law in this house.” His left fist punched his right palm as he said this; otherwise there was no change in his facial expression. Dad’s voice was monotone, which meant extreme anger. The more he controlled his emotions, the more I had to fear. I backed away, only to run into the wall behind me. Startled, I hit my head, and his voice continued to strike out.
“You have all you require to make it on your own. I have been lenient, allowing you to stay through graduation. You shall leave here at once. Get your belongings and get out of my house. You are no longer welcome.” He sneered, the only emotion he allowed on his otherwise blank face. I stared into his hard, green eyes, trying to fathom what I was hearing. For a moment, I thought I saw something, a glimmer of hope perhaps?
His eyes dropped from my gaze, his feet turned and he stalked out of the room as ominously as he’d entered it.
Essentially I have done my best to strip my voice from the narrative- it’s all about the protagonist, what he sees, hears, and feels. My intention is to place readers in the mind of Brigham, the main character, to feel his fear and disappointment.
Before I arrived at the place where I wanted to write in this style, I was a staunch supporter of keeping an emotional distance between the reader and the characters on the page. Why? Because I naturally do that. I love boundaries, and think they are there for a reason.
Now that I see the finiteness of life, maybe it’s time to shed some of these boundaries, and experience things on a more visceral level. Fuck distance, let’s experience things first hand, real experiences, even if they are just fiction.