Faculty members Christopher Castellani and Peter Turchi spoke about their recent books (Castellani’s The Art of Perspective and Turchi’s A Muse and a Maze) and discussed mystery and other craft elements at Brooklyn Rail:

Turchi: The Art of Perspective is a wonderful book, full of good advice and smart close reading. It made me want to immediately read (or re-read) the books and stories you discuss. It’s also surprising. The back cover claims the book is about “every fiction writer’s most urgent issue: point of view;” in fact, you discuss something broader and possibly even more important: perspective as an element of overall “narrative strategy” (a term I will begin using tomorrow). Obviously, there’s plenty to be written about the handling of various points of view, some of which you touch on here. What led you to focus on this other, larger sense of perspective?

Castellani: Such a generous response means a great deal coming from you, Pete. Thank you. I’m sure that, like me, you’ve been in many a fiction workshop in which the consensus solution to a manuscript’s problems was simply to switch it from one point of view to another. The problem is that we hardly ever talk at great length about why the story would work better with that switch, or the more nuanced implications it would have on the entire enterprise. This makes the advice arbitrary and the eventual revision incomplete, much to the writer’s bewilderment. In most cases, the writer didn’t have a comprehensive rationale for having chosen the POV in the first place; it was not a means to an end, but to a beginning; the way he got into the story, but not a way through and out. I wanted to look at point of view as a cog in the machine of what I called the narrative strategy, not as the machine itself. I hoped this would help us all make better drafting and revision decisions…

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