Saturday, 17 November 2012

Point of view

The Girl and I were singing "Whiskey in the Jar," an Irish folk song about a bandit who is captured and must face punishment.

Do you like the man singing the song, the bandit in the story? I asked.

"He's not a nice man," The Girl said, and I agreed. It's first-person, I said, and he's telling the story, so he's called the narrator, I said. But we don't necessarily believe what he says, so he's an unreliable narrator.

We talked a bit about how to tell a story first-person vs. third-person, and past and present tense. "What about telling a story second-person?" The Girl asked. "Or future tense?"

I explained that was nigh-impossible; if the first person is "I crossed the river," and the third person is "She crossed the river," then the second person would be "You crossed." But you didn't, and if you did you don't need to be told the story. The same is true of future tense; you can say something happened, or is happening now, but it's difficult to tell a story about what will happen.

The Girl thought a moment. "I own a story," she said, "written in the second person, and in the future tense."

What is it? I asked.

It's called "Instruction Manual," she said.

Photo: The Girl with her basket of mushrooms.