Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Title reinforcing structure, voice and intent

I really like restrictions. And so basing a novel in 1511 in a small community with an oral tradition, little written grammar, and a very limited space in which to write means I have to really think about word choice, sentence structure and the expression of ideas that I’ve taken for granted since I could write.

One of the things I spent time pondering during the think phase of this was the development of the apostrophe (hence the name of the book) which came into general use (Wikipedia says) in 1530 as a form of elision or omission, and then was also adopted to denote the possessive.

But it has an earlier meaning. The Greek version of the word (which is the title of the book) means 'to turn away' and was also used to denote a character in a play who was addressed, but wasn't present on the stage. In this epistolary novel, the apostrophien is the first named character - dear husband - in the story and he is also unknown because he exists only in the future. These letters (it's still a little difficult to think of them as letters) are a form of telepathy where the thoughts of the girl are transmitted via a common form of magic to someone months or perhaps even years away from their initial existence.

We take these things for granted, but if each piece of paper was precious and irreplaceable, and each piece had to impart something meaningful, how would that impact on the ways we communicate?

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