Before you begin reading, a word from Eldot about the style...
It’s only fair to the reader to issue a heads up alert about an unusual stylistic practice that I have employed in Little J and Roger. Somewhere along the way, I got this inspirational idea about verb tense and point of view. I became annoyed at the restrictions imposed by the conventional methods of employing those elements. So I have tinkered with that in this book.
Usually, when there is a change of tense or narrative person, there is either a new paragraph or a punctuation element inserted to guide the reader along. If a character is talking in the first person, “I ran as fast as I could, but it was too late...”
the reader is given the quotation marks, meaning that the reader is seeing the action from the character’s perspective.
If something outside the character is needed, the writer can use the third person: He ran as fast as he could, but he was too late...
This perspective allows other information to be added that the character may or may not know about, but that he or she would not likely verbalize. For example: The sun was up already. If he were seen, it would mean failure. He ran as fast as he could, but it was too late. They’d seen him coming and shoved off. They were well downstream already.
What if I do this:
The sun is up already. If I’m seen, I’m out of luck... He ran as fast as he could, but he was too late. Rats, they saw me coming. They had shoved off and were well downstream.
Here the reader has to jump in and out of the character’s point of view, and between present and past. It’s unusual and maybe awkward... but it achieves something new. It lends a first person intimacy and involvement to material that is essentially passive when in the third person. It helps remove the dulling effect of using the narrative past tense “was” to a vivid alive “is,” and it does so without the clutter of a lot of punctuation cues or paragraph breaks.
I have utilized this technique in varying degrees. In many places it is not used at all, in others it is extensive. Generally, my goal has been to get the reader into the action of the character’s perception to the maximum extent while keeping the ability to see things from the outside.
So when you run across this phenomenon, you now know what’s going on—it’s not a typo. I hope it makes the experience of Little J and Roger even more fun.