Friday, November 16, 2012

Two shadows


After I took this shot of an egret, I noticed it was casting two shadows. What does that mean?

My best guess, since the sun is the light source, is that one of these shadows is reflected light. But it's also fun to think one is a ghost or the spirit of the bird aside from its body. Which is the real bird?

As a writer I like to think what that could mean in creating characters. The most complex characters have layers, which might reflect differently, be perceived in alternate ways by other characters and the reader.

I just read an interview, which tied in to this in a way.

From Shelf Awareness interview with Herman Koch, the Dutch author of THE DINNER, a tale told by an unreliable narrator.

"Instead of a character who reveals himself in the course of a narrative, I was thinking of Paul as a man who has something to hide. In the beginning we think that he is just protecting his privacy, and the privacy of his family, but in the end we find out that he has been hiding his "real self" from the reader--like most of us do, I think."

That's pretty interesting to consider when crafting a novel. Do we all have shadow selves? What do you think?

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P.S. I've got a guest post Monday, Nov. 19, from author Laurel Garver about using poetry techniques in fiction writing. Please drop in!

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Another P.S. This is amazing! Agent Sara Megibow is offering a 50-page critique just for commenting on Natalie Bahm's blog (random winner to be picked). The offer is meant to promote sales of THE SECRET UNDERGROUND, an MG novel whose proceeds benefit the family of a sick little boy. It is such a worthy cause and such an opportunity. Please check it out.

16 comments:

Sarah Laurence said...

Very cool image with the double shadow. I love that description of the unreliable narrator. If you like unreliable narrators you would enjoy Code Name Verity and Gone Girl. I think part of what appeals to me about YA fiction is the character is finding her real self, moving from childhood to adulthood.

Wendy aka Quillfeather said...

What an extraordinary photo!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Sarah: The whole idea of hiding one's real self is really intriguing. From now on I'm going to think about shadow selves for my characters. Thanks for the recs. I've been thinking about reading both. Now I will.

Wendy: Isn't it? I didn't even realize at first.

Yvonne Osborne said...

Ws there a full moon? Or some source of bright artifical light? Casting shadows from the other direction? No....can't be it. Eerie and strange. Which is the real bird??? I'm all about using poetry techniques in fiction, so I'll look forward to that.

Jemi Fraser said...

Great photo! Those 2 shadows send my mind spinning in all kinds of directions!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Yvonne: I don't think there was any light but the sun. That's why I thought maybe light bounced off something to make the second shadow. I love the eerie, sometimes. ;)
I look forward to you checking out Laurel's post! She's meticulous about craft.

Jemi: Thank you! I love the possibilities...:D

Stephanie Thornton said...

This is good food for thought as I've got a number of characters with secrets in my WIP. Hmmmm....

Hobo Annie said...

Great photos raise questions, and this one sure does! Very neat. I love that there is a dark shadow and a light shadow.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Stephanie: Oooo, I'll be interested in how you keep or reveal their secrets.

Annie: Thank you, and what an observation! A writer could develop a really complex character by having more than one shadow, one that's very shadowy....I'm going to hmmmm with Stephanie.

Donna said...

I agree with Sarah about the appeal of YA literature being the finding of self.

My mother-in-law's funeral was yesterday, and I was fascinated by the different ways friends and relatives perceived her. She wanted to be seen in a particular way, but this persona slipped now and then.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Donna: That's such an interesting comment on perception of ourselves by others. I guess there are as many variations as there are observers. Could make for very complex characterizations.

J.B. Chicoine said...

I love photos with mysterious shadows and sources of light almost as much as I love layering characters.

And yeah, I absolutely think we all have shadow selves, those illusory images we leave for others to try and figure out. Sometimes it's intentional, but mostly I think it's simply impossible for someone to truly 'know' another individual. Even as I try to figure out myself I'm bumping into shadows.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Bridget: What a great comment: "Even as I try to figure out myself I'm bumping into shadows."
This concept takes my perceptions of life to new places, and adds a lot of challenge to writing a novel that has depth in its characters.

Angela Ackerman said...

I always love the pictures you take, Pat! Hope you had a joyful Thanksgiving!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Thank you, Angela!

Faith Pray said...

Shadow selves! I think Christopher Vogler talks about this in "The Writer's Journey." I think there are so many shifting parts of us, that hiding is a natural complexity. Lovely musings, Pat!