AnimaDictio wrote:I thought I was writing totally in the character's voice. Perhaps I failed and inserted too much of myself in there?
I'm inclined to say yes, inserted too much of yourself in there, but not failed. The voice is close to Barlaam, but it closes and opens narrative distance haphazardly, in my opinion.
The first sentence's power to close distance comes from the volitional thought verbs "cursed" and "promised." The past perfect tense though weakens the sentence's impact. "That had been." "High octane" is brilliant, a perfect adjective for a charming but fake smile, though I'd like to have an unequivocal sense that Barlaam thinks so, thus showing his jealousy loudly and clearly.
After a fair closing narrative distance opening sentence, getting into Barlaam's thoughts--introspection--the following two sentences open narrative distance. "But that was just the stuff of teenagers. Surely, it’s too late now." "But that was" there feels to me like a narrator's explanation. Same with "surely." Formality of diction I think is the issue there. //Just the fluff of puppy love crushes. Too late now. Too late from the beginning.//***
These couple sentences don't feel like they restore close distance, keep it open: "Neal and Rebekah have been married too long. She’ll never get over him." The issue there I think is the formality of syntax and past perfect tense. //Rebekah was too long married to Neal. She'd not get over Neal.//
"He should just let it go. Yes, he would move on." Again, formality of diction and syntax, plus "it" has an everyday conversational quality that demotes Rebekah in animacy, makes her into a thing when she's the person of his desire. And a change of thought--a new thesis sentence? Perhaps a new paragraph is indicated. //He would leave her be, yes, move on.//
"Other fish in the sea and all that jazz." Mixed metaphors and both cliché, in my opinion, which opens narrative distance. And again, demotes Rebekah's animacy from comparing her to a fish. I'd feel closer to Barlaam if the subtext of his subconscious desire for Rebekah was contradicted by his conscious, volitional thoughts logically attempting to put Rebekah behind him. In other words, by demoting her in animacy he's already detaching from her, a fait accompli, when that's the opposite of his subconscious purpose.
"There’s no point in embarrassing himself." "No point," formal diction. An opportunity missed for characterizing Barlaam by his diction, I feel. And it opens narrative distance, in my opinion.
"Barlaam dropped the poem, turned over in bed and closed his eyes." That sentence moves outside of Barlaam to a narrator's reported summarization of his actions. Opens narrative distance wide open. Closing narrative distance would mean directly reporting his sensations of dropping the poem, turning over in bed, and closing his eyes. There syntax formality is another issue I see. The poem is a better subject of the first clause. //The poem slipped from his hand. Facing the wall, he wrestled with sheets wound around him.//
"He struggled for about twelve seconds." That one relaxes syntax formality and causes a subject wound from intransitive verb "struggled," which requires an object or at least an implied one. "About" and "twelve seconds" feel out of harmony from the rough estimate and precise quantity. //He struggled to close his eyes for all of about twelve seconds.//
*** Just suggestions to illustrate, not impose my creative vision or voice, though from my voice and projections of the intents of the excerpt to show Barlaam struggling with the horns of a dilemma.
//The night Barlaam wrote the poem he cursed Neal’s high octane gas bag smile and promised if he ever got a real chance he would take Rebekah. Just the fluff of puppy love crushes. Too late now. Too late from the beginning. Rebekah was too long married to Neal. She'd not get over Neal.
He would leave her be, yes, move on. Always another goddess waiting in the wings and all that. No sense embarrassing himself for nothing.
The poem slipped from his hand. Facing the wall, he wrestled with sheets wound around him. He struggled to close his eyes for all of about twelve seconds.//
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