Ishmael wrote:And of course the critique promptly arrives. Fortunately no major changes suggested.
One issue was raised over which I'd be interested to hear other views. If you're attempting to tell a story from the viewpoint of a character with certain perceptual limitations (in this case autism), are you justified in leaving out aspects of an event / setting that your POV wouldn't notice? It does cut to the essentials but it also leaves the reader (and judge) wanting more detail. Since 'I did it on purpose' is not something you can easily say to the reader, how can the circle be squared?
Hey Ishmael, just read this. When you use a limited POV, and BTW, I think that's wise for today's market, you can only use what your character knows or sees. It's a good thing, because the reader goes exploring an environment through the eyes of your protagonist. If your protagonist is a bead off center, however, you have to tell the reader in the beginning so they know not everything is as it appears. My last Silver HM was one of those stories, about a kid that is hearing and seeing things that shouldn't be in his world, but you know right away he's got something wrong, and when his world changes at the end, you as the reader would know all along even though he could not know or understand what was happening. And therein lies the rub. Doing limited POV, askew POV, but with enough clues to the reader to see the real picture, not the distorted one the protagonist is presenting.
It is possible you hit one of Dave's pet peeves. He doesn't like coming to an ending that he couldn't have reasonably concluded from the facts, however disguised, were presented. The ending can be a total surprise, but the reader should then be able to add up the facts presented and be able to say, 'Ah, I see how that could have happened.' If instead they say, 'What the hell, where did he pull that rabbit out of the hat?' you're probably in trouble, especially if one does it by withholding critical information and not giving that data until the conclusion. You can feel cheated and tricked, instead of smiling and saying, 'Ah, tricky. I like it.' The tricky part is foreshadowing throughout the story, and in your case in a way where your protagonist does not see it, but as you think back as a reader, it was indeed there.
Here is a comment by Dave mentioned by another (above) about Multidimensionality that might help. He's said it before in other ways. "The truth is, the reader wants to feel that there is some meat in your story, that there is some depth to it. Creating a multidimensional story will do that. But withholding information so that the reader doesn’t know what is going on just complicates the story needlessly. In a similar way, authors often complicate their plots by adding one too many twists."
So, did you withhold information until the end, or was it just cleverly disguised within your tale? If you withhold, you have missed the mark. In Dave's opinion, he must have felt you withheld. So to fix the story, figure out a way to cast light on that important fact, without your protagonist understanding what he is seeing.
The best story that did this, IMHO, is [i]Flowers for Algernon.[i] Totally limited POV, and the POV shifted within the protagonist without him fully understanding as the conclusion progressed. But as readers, we all got it, and cried for his change. As a sidebar, I had the privelege of hearing Daniel Keyes talk about this story at the Nebulas one year; it was fascinating.
I hope that helps and is as clear as mud!
All the beast,