Friday, April 11, 2014

The Unreliable Witness

At the UCF Book Festival last weekend, another author and I started discussing Point of View (POV) for writing. I prefer third person POV, while she prefers first. She said her narrator is an unreliable witness, so first person creates more drama. I couldn't agree more. It's a tremendous tool and true to human nature. After all, how many of us are reliable witnesses? Our perspectives are tainted by our experiences, so no two views will be the same. A rich person, for instance, will think of a thousand dollars as inexpensive, while I cringe when I have to spend one hundred. To me, the other person's view is unreliable. But who's to say mine isn't to him or her? We all tell our stories as if they're the whole truth, but they're really just partial lies to someone else.


"Things aren't what they seem."

Vivian's words echo in my mind as I walk with my daughter today. Abby has long since fallen asleep in her stroller, but I'm not alone. Not really. Meaghan's been walking beside me for several minutes, though she still hasn't spoken.

"It has to happen," she finally says to me and I do my best to ignore her. We've been having this argument for weeks and I'm tired of it. "It's why I came to you."

This time she has my full attention, though I try not to speak too loudly. I'm pretty sure no one else can see her. "To me? What do you mean?"

"It's why I'm telling you my story, why I've pushed you to share it. It matters here, too."

Here?

"Earth?" I ask.

She nods and turns her copper eyes into the sun. "Sometimes people do the wrong things for the right reasons."

Now I'm completely confused.

"I'm not done here," she continues. "You'll see soon enough, and I'll tell you the whole story in time. It matters on both sides of the portal."

"Why?"

She smiles instead of responding, though the corners of her mouth look stiff, maybe even cold.

"Meg--"

"It has to happen," she repeats, then I'm alone with my sleeping child once more.

I hate when that happens. It's not the first time and I know it won't be the last. Æerenden has been a twenty-year roller coaster ride for me. Ultimately, I'm in control of the story, of where it goes and how it ends. I know this, but sometimes I wonder...

Who's the true unreliable witness here?

Meaghan?

Or me?

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