1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Addressing the reader

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by OurJud, Aug 10, 2015.

    I know I post a lot of threads, but I've done some good work on my WiP today so I'm allowing myself this.

    I seriously considered setting this up as a poll, but then decided against it.

    Anyway, your opinions, please, on novels that address the reader. Not to a ridiculous length, but when used as a means to divide action from exposition, or to bring the reader back to the now, following some back story.

    For example (without addressing the reader)
    (Now the same passage addressing the reader)
     
    Last edited: Aug 10, 2015
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    That part in red is completely unnecessary. It's easy enough to understand what's happening.
     
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  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks, thirdwind.

    What if, though, the back-story paragraph was much longer, or even several paragraphs in itself?

    In my WiP this is exactly the case, and the paragraph which brings the story back into the now sounds odd and clumsy... maybe even a little confusing.

    The first chapter of Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's sci-fi novel Roadside Picnic uses just this technique. With lots of paragraphs starting 'Anyway,' and 'So, as I said,'. Although this was written in present tense, so maybe that's the difference.
     
  4. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Nelson DeMille does similar things in his thrillers ("Anyway," and "Like I said," etc). It's just a stylistic preference, in my view. As @thirdwind pointed out, it's not necessary. However, if it is the style you want to adopt for a work, there's also nothing wrong with it. In my view, it is important not to overdo it. That's a mistake DeMille sometimes make (though I guess if you look at his sales you can say the 'mistake' isn't exactly costing him anything).

    I also think if you're going to do this, it is important to establish relatively early that the narrator will address the reader directly. If a writer started it doing midway through a novel, I'd think it was odd unless there was some explanation offered. If a writer does it from the beginning, I don't have a problem with it so long as the work is otherwise good and the author doesn't overdo it to the point I'm pull out of the story because I'm thinking about how the author is handling it.
     
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  5. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I agree. When I used it, purely because I didn't feel as though the return to the now was clear, it seemed to click like a jigsaw piece.
     
  6. jorel
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    jorel Member

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    The example you gave made it seem more conversational IMO.
     
  7. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Good, bad or irrelevant?
     
  8. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Contributor

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    I recently finished The Martian which used that conversational style and it really made sense, because the book was largely a series of vocalised log entries from the protagonist. He does a lot of "so anyway, that's where I am now..."

    In a more traditional set up I don't think the second example would bother me but I also don't think it's any better than the first.
     
  9. rainy_summerday
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    rainy_summerday Active Member

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    In my opinion, it's completely fine to address the implied reader. I believe it has gone somewhat out of fashion, but e.g. Melville uses it in the very first sentence of Moby Dick, "Call me Ishmael." Or Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre has got instances of this as well, if I remember correctly.
    However, if you decide to do it, it should be meaningful in some way. Addressing the implied reader reminds the real audience of the fact that the narrator is aware of (re)telling a story. If your plot twist relies on the reader not knowing that the narrator knows more than he lets on, this might ruin the intended effect.

    I hope this makes sense...
     
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  10. jorel
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    jorel Member

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    I try to think of reading a story (especially when it's in first person) as someone telling me it - and this just makes it so much more real.

    I like it.
     
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  11. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's a style thing. Make your choice.
     
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