Originally published on my old writing blog, Writer Revealed (March 2009)
Countless times, I have read advice from professional authors, agents and publishers about sticking to one POV in one scene, about keeping a straight enough narrative that the reader doesn’t get confused.Currently, I am reading Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. It’s considered a classic. It’s wonderful story, no doubt about that. However, with regards to the writing style, it jumps from one person to another in a heart beat. Mrs. Dalloway is not alone in this. Majority of what we consider all time classics, are written in pretty haphazard manner that an agent wouldn’t touch today.
Is it a sign of evolving times? Or merely a sign that we – as readers – prefer less complicated things? Is that because we can’t be bothered to spend effort on following a story with care? Or because we are incapable of it, going after instant gratifications and becoming less intelligence as a race?
These questions could be debated for a long while, and we still won’t come to a conclusion. But the fact remains that the publishing industry has changed a lot since the days of Virginia Woolf. Perhaps, it’s just as well – we don’t see many writers – even the novice ones – living in squalid, dark rooms and starving these days. There is poetic value in that image, but I prefer my comfortable sofa with electricity, Internet, and DVD player.