RARA-AVIS: 1st & 3rd

From: Mark Coggins ( coggins@immortalgame.com)
Date: 24 May 2002

As Bill says ...

> Hammett (excepting the Op, who's first
> person) kept you outside. In THE GLASS KEY, there's no description of
> thoughts or emotions at all. That's rare, but Hammett does it very well,
> as Chandler does with his approach. It'd be interesting to do a chapter
> of each the other way, but I'm glad they picked the techniques they did.

THE GLASS KEY is actually very interesting. This sort of third person some people call objective 3rd because you never do get inside peoples heads. It's as if a camera is following the character around, but only that character, so in a way its more like 1st than some books where third person is used to give the reader more information than what one character you can get from that characters perspective.

It makes it very easy to adopt a novel for the screen if it's written in this way, and that's probably one reason why the Houston's FALCON is so faithful to book.

The difference between FALCON and KEY is that Hammett took this objective business one step further and rather than saying Spade did this or Spade did that, he always says Ned Beaumont did this or Ned Beaumont did that. Always repeating both names makes the character seem even more distanced from the reader, I think.

Also, for what it's worth, I think it's one of the hardest ways to write a book. There are no "cheats" to convey emotion--you have to work hard to give the reader the sense of what the character is feeling without telling him or her outright: much like an actor would have to work to convey emotion in reading a screenplay.


Mark Coggins coggins@immortalgame.com http://www.vulturecapital.info

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