Today we are wrapping up the book club blog discussion on Lottery. If you missed the previous discussions, you can find the first one, discussing Lottery’s presentation of society’s view on mental and financial success, here, and the second one, on the presentation of love and loyalty, here. I want to thank Patricia Wood once more, for her wonderful participation in an excellent series of discussions... She took a lot of time out of her schedule and carefully answered readers’ questions while inputting her own thoughts on the themes and writing process.
I’d like to take the time now to close the discussion with a special emphasis on the writing process. I know some of the readers on this particular series are not writers by trade, though I hope they will find it interesting, none the less. I thought, for this particular blog, it would be a fitting way to close. If you scroll through my entries you’ll notice a vast majority of them have something to do with the writing process. We did, briefly touch on some of the writing devices used in this novel in the comments from the first post, Stephen Parrish so eloquently started us off by pointing out the brilliant way in which Patricia allowed the reader to hear exactly what Perry’s relatives were saying in front of him. This allowed the reader to know exactly what was going on while Perry, who could hear but not completely understand, remained unaware of their exact intentions.
The most prominent thing to me was the use of first person here. First person has been used before, of course, but it’s a difficult type of writing to master for a number of reasons. One key reason for the level of difficulty in writing first person being that the audience can only see things through the eyes of the main character, thereby limiting their own understanding of events. With a narrator like Perry, at the outside you would think this point of view would be a detriment, but Patricia skillfully makes it a poignant positive. As Stephen mentioned earlier, the ability to hear what people are saying around Perry without him really understanding is an amazing, yet realistic way to see the entire picture without detracting from Perry’s character. The fact that people will often speak openly around a person of Perry’s mental ability works as a plus here.
What I found most compelling was Patricia’s ability to maintain the character’s voice throughout. This has to be a far harder task than people automatically assume. Reading just a few blog posts or interviews by Patricia, one can see that her usual writing voice is far advanced in both language and flow, than that of her character’s. I wonder how many times during revisions she had to have picked through, thinking, ‘there’s no way Perry would say that...’ I also applaud her deference to the story because I think it’s a natural thing for most writers to want to impress with their poetic prose – Patricia let simplicity of language and power of story do the work... and I don’t think that’s any small task.
Here’s what I would love to discuss, and anyone who cares to participate can. (of course we’d all love to hear from Patricia on this as well) How do you make your choices during the writing process? Do you have the story in front of you and decide it works best in first or third person? Do you start writing and see where it goes? Are you a researcher? Do you have the idea and then spend a good amount of time researching before you put pen to paper? Do you outline first or do you write by the seat of your pants?
Okay, guys, I hope you’ll all take some time to enlighten us with your own process or tell us what literary devices in the novel really impressed you. This will be the last post on the book club blogs for Lottery, but I’ll be sure to post something soon to let you all know where and when the next book club blog will be... in other news, the holiday is sneaking right up on me, so I will try to make it over to everyone’s blog at least once, but likely won’t post until after Christmas... So Merry Christmas to everyone out there. May it be full of great food, good company, and lots of love.