1. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    A Weird Question on POV

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GoldenGhost, May 23, 2012.

    Ok, so recently I have started writing this story. It is a horror story, in a sense. The idea behind it is this: One day, an unexpected traveler stumbles upon a mansion. The owner takes him in, and attempts to get this stranger back on his feet. The owner soon discovers there is something strange about this man. The fellow, is a werewolf, kind of, and since the owner of the mansion has an interest in the study of behavior, he decides to monitor this guy. He fashions a room for him to contain him during his episodes, and through a peephole, starts to record and research.

    Now, my question, and about how I am trying to tell the story. Originally, I had it set up in the first person, from the POV of the main character/owner of the house. Detailing the story about how he met him, how he discovered the man's secret, and the research. This is where it gets tricky. At first, I had him writing all this down in hopes to 'get this story out and to show the world what he has done' (He is writing it, locked up inside his study, because the transformation of the stranger has become permanent and he is now hunting the owner of the mansion.) So he is writing the story, while this beast is hunting for him. So throughout the narrative, I wanted to include and describe instances where the beast finds him, and he has to flee or even fight him a time. The trouble is, the narrative and the story being told about how he met the man, and the small part about research are in the past tense, while the events or interaction with the beast would be happening right then in there while he is writing.

    I know all this seems like a lot of information, and I am actually having trouble describing it. I hope you can see my dilema though. How can he describe the interaction with the beast, if he is running/fighting this thing in the first place? He can't run and fight at the same time as writing.

    A solution I had come up with was writing it from the angle of a neutral, arial POV, having what the MC is presently writing in a consecutive quotation (kind of like Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness) and then when it comes time for action, stepping out of the dialogue, and describing it from the neutral POV.

    an excerpt to give you more of an example is this:

    A man sat at a desk, appearing tense, head down, and was writing something. A muffled scream could be heard, sounding like it came from another part of the mansion. Expensive looking furniture decorated the room, and an elaborately woven rug, covered some of the floor. There was a small fire place burning and there were multiple bookshelves. The man stopped writing and, reading the paper, said, “If these pages find their way into your hands, then my job is done. The words contained herein may seem like a cry for help, or rather, maybe, the rants of a madman. God only knows what I have released and may he be the judge of my sanity. My only wish is to record a part of my life and leave the rest to you. I do not have much time. He smells me.


    Any thoughts or suggestions? I had originally wrote: The words on the paper read, "If these pages find their way into your hands...."

    Is it possible for a neutral POV/observer to zoom in on the page and read the words the man is writing? in fiction?
     
  2. JackElliott
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    JackElliott Senior Member

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    Just have the narrator write about the encounter at some later point. For example, "Earlier this morning, as I was settling down to write, blah blah blah happened. It was terrible, I had to run and narrowly lost him in the woods ..."

    I don't understand your question about a neutral POV because you said the story was in First Person POV. So are you saying you want two POVs in the story, perhaps even in the same scene? Doesn't sound like a good idea.
     
  3. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    No, I did away with the first person perspective because it cannot happen. It is unrealistic. And the reason there is a problem is because as the story unfolds, the beast is closing in on the encounter. They eventually fight but the MC manages to slip away, but unfortunately, traps himself in a cellar, where inevitably the beast finds him and kills him. The way I wanted it written was so the reader could form their own conclusion. The last few lines being described would be cut off mid sentence, as if he never finished what he was writing, and got attacked.
     
  4. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Maybe simplified it looks like this. There are two things going on at once. The MC is attempting to write the history the led up to this moment, while THAT moment, is actually happening AS he is writing down the events that prefaced it. Does that make sense?
     
  5. C.B Harrington
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    C.B Harrington Member

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    So basically Interview with a Vampire - except Nighttime with a Werewolf?
     
  6. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Not sure what you mean here. Are you saying this has already been done? If it has I am completely unaware of the story, and if it is the case I will trash the story.

    Though this is no interview. It is merely a person attempting to record an account of all events leading up to the moment he is currently experiecing (being chased by this creature inside his house, ultimately leading to his demise and an unfished account mid sentence)
     
  7. C.B Harrington
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    C.B Harrington Member

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    Don't trash the story at all man. Interview with a Vampire is similar to what you're talking about, though while there are core similarities, there are several differences. If you've never seen Interview with a Vampire, I would suggest reading it or watching it, but it is similar to what you're talking about and might give you some good perspective on how to write your story.
     
  8. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Is it possible, for a character to be penning a story and to have a neutral observer, or an arial POV zoom in and read the words on the page as they are being written? If that is possible or rather, can fly in fiction, then I have figured out how to tell the tale and think it could possibly come out alright.

    I guess the only clear cut way to get an answer is to find someone who would be willing to read it once it is done, strictly for direction on POV. It is a short story.
     
  9. C.B Harrington
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    C.B Harrington Member

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    It sounds like you're talking about first person omniscient - which is extremely hard to do well.

    "I knew these streets well and walked them often. In the middle of the night, when the soundless air seems to press against your thoughts, you almost wish someone would scream out, just to break the monotony of midnight. Not far off a woman walked home from work; a late night shift at a local Irish themed pub. Her hair bounced and swung from its pony tail knot as she hurried home. Her eyes darted left and right, a hand gripping her purse tighter to her shoulder with ever step. It was her scream I heard this night, and as with every other night, I was always too late."
     
  10. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    That's actually, exactly how I had it written first. Inbetween the narration, or the first person, I would enter a new paragraph that included the action in the past tense, which sometimes included the character, whether it was him running, or defending himself. I wonder if I should have left it as it were, isntead of how I just re-wrote it?
     
  11. C.B Harrington
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    C.B Harrington Member

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    Give an example of both methods for the same scene or paragraph so I can see what you were doing and what you're doing now.
     
  12. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    This is the new way, and I have it set up as if the neutral POV is reading the words on the page. The paragraph below, being the last paragraph in a succession of dialogue told in first person and ended because of the incoming action.

    “I became invested in the life of this stranger, beyond his mere survival. I monitored his sleep and his daily life. Always keeping a journal to record any data. That data is attached to this story. One thing was certain, as I dove into my research, his hunger was constant. I could not seem to satisfy him and I tried with zeal.”
    The door to the study shook. Behind it, a snarl exploded. Frederick stood and picked up a candle. He turned to face a bookshelf and pulled on a specific volume. A secret passage unlocked and he stepped inside. As soon as the door closed, something could be heard inside the study. Furniture being destroyed and growling sounded from the room. The passage vibrated with each movement. Frederick hesitated at first, appearing to listen, but then hurried away. He went through a maze of corridors that led to the east wing of his mansion.

    The way it was originally done was (without dialogue obviously):

    I became invested in the life of this stranger, beyond his mere survival. I monitored his sleep and his daily life. Always keeping a journal to record any data. That data is attached to this story. One thing was certain, as I dove into my research, his hunger was constant. I could not seem to satisfy him and I tried with zeal.

    The door to the study shook. Behind it, a loud snarl exploded. He found me, I thought. I stood and picked up the candle. I turned to face a bookshelf and pulled down a specific volume. A secret passage opened and I slipped inside. After the door closed, I could hear the entrance to the study splinter. i did not stay to listen and hurried away, passing through a maze of corridors that led to the east wing.

    I entered my library and went about locking every door. I was running out of places to hide and routes to escape. Once I finished, I sat down at a desk and continued my story.
     
  13. indy5live
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    indy5live Active Member

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    Do a present day/past story. A group of kids venture into his abandoned mansion and find his story. They walk around the mansion as they read the story, jumping from the arial POV to the author's first person view. You can zoom out again and have the kids say, "This was the werewolves room. The noise he probably heard was this lock breaking open. Look at the claw marks on the back of the door." Don't want to completely restructure your story, but if the only character's are the mansion owner and the werewolf it would best be written as a first person story. "I dont have a lot of time, I'm in the library now. I think I lost him....the werewolf would have chased him from this balcony to the library on the other side of the mansion. I wonder how he got away?" "Only one way to find out, lets head to the library and keep reading!" blah blah blah
     
  14. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Say what? He's writing the narrative down whilst he's fighting the monster? Wow, the monster would have to be really easy to deal with if the guy put his pen and paper down and used both hands to fight! I don't think you've quite worked this through. As far as I can see from your description the encounters are all in the past tense whilst he is locked in the study writing this down, with maybe some bits in the present if the monster is beating at the study door or some such.
     
  15. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    This is why I was asking questions about which POV would be better suited to tell the story, as I stated first person would not work because he could not run/fight while penning a story. So I was asking if anyone had any suggestions as to how to how to give the reader information from his point of view, while also being able to describe action. Such as the first example/excerpt I gave which has his POV in quotations/dialogue while the narrative is told through a neutral/arial POV describing the rooms, the actions, and reading the words the MC is writing.

    I am at a loss for how I want to tell this story because of how I want it to end. I wanted it to end unfinished, as if the beast finally got to him. But I cannot figure this POV out.


    I guess my question is this: Is it possible for a third person/neutral POV to describe action, setting, scene but also read the words the character is writing and show that through dialogue?
     
  16. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Read some H P Lovecraft -- he did that sort of thing a lot. Usually somebody finds the journal years later, which is a bit of a cliché but it doesn't occupy much of the narrative. If in the last paragraph the person who finds the journal discovers that the monster is still there and is now stalking them then you're likely to get branded "Lovecraftian" but don't worry, that's not an insult, it's a sub-genre.
     
  17. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    Ahhhh, even given what you just said, I believe I have a new angle that the story can be told. Thank you for this.
     
  18. Skodt
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    Skodt Member

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    Read Bram Stokers Dracula. Written as a Journal. Just this story is about a vampire. He tells his story of going to the mansion of the Count Dracula. He then journels his time there.
     
  19. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Dracula wasn't really journals as much as it was letters...at least from what I remember.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Barm Stoker's Dracula was written as journal entries and letters. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein was written as a series of letters. Both are examples of epistolary novels. It's a form that has fallen out of favor because the reader is never present in the actual story. It's usually too much emotional distance.
     
  21. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I have decided to add a different take on it which has the potential to create more conflict. As someone suggested, I will keep the journal idea full in mind, and what will now happen is a few young adults, by way of a dare, find themselves entering an old abandoned mansion. Upon exploration, they discover the journal and one chooses to read it aloud. The end of the journal entry describing what was going on is left unfinished and they soon find themselves in the midst of chaos.

    This, hopefully, keeps the POV anchored and allots for more characterization. Thoughts?
     
  22. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Sounds like a good idea. But I don't think the story is impossible to write with your original set-up.

    For example, I think you can start with a 1st person limited narrator who tells what's happening in present time (the monster is breathing down his neck, etc). Then he thinks about how it all started. Insert a scene break, and start telling the backstory from 1st person more-or-less-omniscient. When you're done, make a new scene break and end the story in present time.

    I don't think the backstory needs to be something the main character actually speaks or writes down. If you only make the time switches clear, I think the reader will go along with you.
     
  23. kamikazepilot42
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    kamikazepilot42 Member

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    What Islander has suggested is most similar to my thoughts.

    I really do not think it's difficult to accomplish what you are trying to do. The way I would do it...

    As long as you have clear breaks (whether they are chapters or section breaks or whatnot), it really is quite simple to make POV jumps. You can have sections from his journal interspersed with sections of "live" action (from whatever POV you want). As long as you do not jump too frequently (make sure you stick to one narrative long enough to allow the reader to sink into it a little), I think this could be very effective.

    You can also do it jumping time, so that the story is not laid out in chronological order. Instead, you lay it out so that the POV changes are most effective and well-placed.

    I will add that while the concept is really not that complex, it doesn't necessarily mean it's easy to execute. But I think if done correctly it can work really well.
     
  24. GoldenGhost
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    GoldenGhost Contributing Member

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    I appreciate all the feedback and I am taking everything into consideration. I am going to try it from the angle people stumble upon a journal and discover the beast is still alive and see how it turns out and then I might fashion a few different versions where I may add first person flashbacks and cut scenes from present time. That way I can actually keep it in first person throughout the entire thing and the POV never changes, just the setting or time period.
     
  25. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    A bit of an irrelevant comment - the host sounds pretty creepy, spying on a guest like that.
     

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