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 a wonderful story, no doubt about that. However, with regards to the writing style, it jumps from one person to another in a heartbeat. Mrs Dalloway is not alone in this. Majority of what we consider all-time classics are written in a 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.