WIR #2: Steering the Craft

Steering the CraftLe Guin, Ursula K. Steering the Craft: Exercises and Discussions on Story Writing for the Lone Navigator or the Mutinous Crew. Portland, Oregon: The Eighth Mountain Press. Copyright © 1998, by Ursula K. Le Guin.

Ursula K. Le Guin's web site:

More from Exercise Seven, Part Two. Le Guin's instructions:

PART TWO: Detached Narrator
Tell the same story using the detached author or “fly on the wall” POV.

Regarding this point-of-view, she says:

There is no viewpoint character. The narrator is not one of the characters, and can say of the characters only what a neutral observer (an intelligent fly on the wall) might infer of them from behavior and speech. The author never enters a character's mind. People and places may be exactly described, but values and judgments can be implied only indirectly. A popular voice around 1900 and in "minimalist" and "brand-name" fiction, it is the most covertly manipulative of the points of view.

My exercise:

“I can’t see your star.” Those were the words the soothsayer had just spoken to Micajah to close the opening ceremony for this evening’s soirée in front of a crowd of more than one hundred Littoral Peers. Micajah appeared to be stunned, as if he disbelieved what the soothsayer had said. He stumbled, leaned against the marble balustrade, and then hunched over, looking like the weight of the world had come down upon him. He glanced about at the faces of those who stood around him. Their looks varied from mild shock to outright horror to grimaces of hatred. Not a single person seemed to bear him any sympathy.

He looked about, obviously searching for someone beyond the crowd that surrounded him, and then his eyes locked onto the person he had been looking for. Pershea, his concubine, her back turned to him, was walking away into the grand room that opened out onto the balcony, headed back toward her apartment. He pushed away from the balustrade and started off after her. The crowd opened a pathway for him, stepping away quickly.

Preshea appeared to be abandoning him.

Some in the crowd sneered at him as he passed by; others bared their teeth. Zedock stepped out from the crowd to block Micajah’s path.

Zedock smiled a crooked smile. “Your lands are mine,” he said.

A woman to Micajah’s right gasped. He looked to see who it was. Sophronia stood with her hand over her mouth, her eyes wide.

Micajah closed his hand into a fist, then, turning quickly back to Zedoc, he brought his fist up, and struck Zedock firmly on the jaw, sending the Timbran lord sprawling onto his ass on the marble balcony floor.

(286 words)

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