Presenting The Caitiff!

So, I finished the first draft of The Caitiff the other day (woo!), and I’ve been going through, stoically editing, like you’re supposed to do, but today I’ve been messing around with ways to display the writing I’ve been wasting myself on.

When I was at university, a tutor once called my writing fairly lyrical, or poetic (in quite an accusatory voice, I might add) so I’ve been working on splitting a few paragraphs up today. Even without changing the actual words themselves, I find it very interesting how the layout is affecting the way I read my own writing.

I mean, I studied visual texts for a short while (hey, any excuse to read MAUS and Watchmen as part of a degree, am I right?), so I’m quite familiar with how complex presentation can adapt perception, but this simple splitting up of my writing is fairly new to me.

Though I doubt it will translate well to the entire text, I randomly selected a paragraph from the middle of my text and split it up, just to see what effect the presentation has.

In the form of prose, it reads:

I dug my nails into the flesh of my face, and enjoyed it. I didn’t want to think about her, about God, about the war that she so desperately wanted to fight. I didn’t want that battle, I wanted to be so far from it that when it all came crashing down on top of her I wouldn’t be able to hear the screams. I couldn’t see her destroy herself with her passion. Those were the justifications I offered myself, the idea that I loved her too much to see her broken when, I knew, I was incapable of love.

After some minutes I forced myself to stand. I showered with water turned up to an unbearable heat. Every time my body acclimatised itself to the agony, I turned it up again. Blood blossomed beneath my skin, rising to the surface until I felt weak and light-headed. I considered shaving, scratching at my jaw with tender fingers, but decided against it. There was a black stain on the ceiling, like mould or damp, and I stared at it whilst the water buffeted my body.

But as a splintered kind of poetic presentation, I would have it say:

I dug
my nails into the flesh of my face,
and enjoyed it.
I didn’t want to think
about her,
about God,
about the war that she so desperately wanted to fight.

I didn’t want that battle,
I wanted to be so far from it that
when it all came crashing down on top of her
I wouldn’t be able to hear the screams.
I couldn’t see her destroy herself with her passion.

Those were the justifications I offered myself,
the idea that I loved her
too much
to see her broken.

I knew,
I was incapable of love.

After a time, I forced myself to stand.
I showered
with the water turned
to an unbearable heat.

Every time my body acclimatised to the agony,
I turned it up again.

Blood blossomed beneath my skin,
rising to the surface until I felt
weak and light-headed.

I considered shaving,
scratching
at my jaw with tender fingers,
but decided against it.

There was a black stain on the ceiling,
like mould or damp,
and I stared at it
whilst the water buffeted my body.

What do you guys think? Does the presentation change the way you read it at all? Is the idea that by simply pressing enter a few extra times one can completely change the format of a piece of text? Or am I simply losing it after days of editing and performing unpaid copywriting work?

One thought on “Presenting The Caitiff!

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