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Writing from the POV of a god (concealing godliness)
Posted: May 5th, 2015, 10:57 pm
My book is told through the eyes of many characters, one of which is a god. In my world mortal beings can do magic (and sometimes even great magic), a god simply does greater magic and has lived many lifetimes (and gods can usually do the same magic of mortals more efficiently/quickly).
However, I would like to conceal from the reader that this character is god, and yet I would like the reader to know that there is something special about this character that makes him stand out. I may not even reveal to the readers that the character is a god by the end of the series, but only imply it as a strong possibility.
What general advice would you give about crafting a god-character whose godliness is to be mostly concealed from the reader?
(if you choose to give advice, let me know if you've ever written from the viewpoint of a god/goddess, so I can gauge the differences in advice given to me).
Re: Writing from the POV of a god (concealing godliness)
Posted: May 6th, 2015, 11:09 am
One of the more certain "laws" of writing is thou shalt not withhold information known to characters from readers. A reasonably firm guidance compared to many so-labeled writing "rules," do not withhold" is open to interpretation, at least for strategies' sakes. Or not, depending on if withheld information is central and influential to the dramatic action.
First, though, point of view is the narrative point of view overall of a narrative. Visualize a camera capable of recording sensory stimuli, thoughts, and emotional responses as one character's viewpoint. A swarm of cameras, one each to a viewpoint person, is as a narrative point of view, the director's viewpoint of the edited feed from all the cameras, including a narrator's. That's a useful method for appreciating viewpoint persona and narrative point of view. A granular view, though one that makes less challenging management of a variety of narrative points of view -- one per narrative -- and one or a number of viewpoint personas for a multiple viewpoint narrative.
Methods for using a concealed god's viewpoint revolve around dramatic irony. Dramatic irony is one individual or group knows circumstances and one or others do not. For fiction, a usual dramatic irony scenario is readers are clued in and selected personas are not, usually protagonists, maybe villains, and other contestants -- agonists all -- rarely narrators, though uncommonly are clueless narrators.
Dramatic irony with readers in the know makes readers feel smart and being into the know persuades them to enjoy a reading experience from the feeling of being clued into an inclusive exclusivity -- readers enjoy the sense of superiority appreciating dramatic irony gives them.
So who best to conceal godliness from? Readers, bad practice, though manageable. A narrator, may be best, good, poor, or bad practice. Other characters, best practice, for dramatic irony's appeals' sake.
Kurt Vonnegut's Breakfast of Champions manages the gamut artfully by use of multiple personas with different degrees of self-awareness and never once clearly states any one is a god. The personas are Vonnegut himself as real writer, implied writer, narrator, viewpoint character, and alter ego characters Billy Pilgrim and Kilgore Trout. The real writer overall is akin to a god directing the action, as like a film director, and has a change of heart with regard to omnipotent influence of Kilgore Trout's existence. Profound and sublime and successful management of writing concealed godliness through the viewpoints and narrative point of view of a god. The withheld feature of godliness is the central action influence and complication of the novel and speaks to the theme, message, and moral of the novel; that is, think consciously, critically, responsibly for yourself; otherwise, others will, to your detriment and theirs.
Also, Richard Bach's Illusions: Tales of a Reluctant Messiah is about a character with a messiah complex and is complicated by reluctance to do others' thinking for them, a viewpoint persona who discovers self-aware enlightened godhood, eventually.
Yes, I write from the viewpoint of a god as a writer; I am a child of God and; therefore, I am a god. My protagonists and nemeses and villains, they too believe they are children of gods like me. I am omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient as writer-director, and selective about what makes the page, thus a god of my writing.