1. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    First Person Narrative Challenge

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Dunning Kruger, Jan 24, 2015.

    I'm an amateur/beginner. I somewhat spontaneously busted out a 1000 words on an idea that is probably beyond my skillset so I am asking for advice on how to proceed should I do so.

    The idea is that the entire story be the told by a commuter in his car to and from work. It's a first person narrative told mostly by a solitary individual in his car. It's inspired by Brett Easton Ellis' "American Psycho", specifically the music tangents, and Joan Dideon's "The Year of Magical Thinking", and my own personal commute from hell, which provides some nice anecdotes.

    Are there obvious challenges or risks that an experienced writer would be aware of? The biggest one I see so far is it has an episodic feel to it - each chapter is one commute. The second one that comes to mind is the tendency to tell rather than show. Any thoughts about how to structure it? Or should am I better off using it as a writing exercise and holding no greater ambitions for it?

    Thanks in advance for any insights.
     
  2. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Excersise is rather useless without any ambition :)

    That said, I feel you should look at what you want to say, what you can say and how you should go on saying it. Constructing any kind of narrative is a challenge even without overthinking the formal part of it. There is really no reason this, or any other idea shouldn't work per se - I know there are going to be others who disagree, but reading experience shows that completely ludicrous and seemingly unworkable premise can form the basis of great fiction. (Yes, and great premises can make horrible books, but that is understandable, right?)

    Concerning writing in first person (I despise the term "First Person Narrator" - there is really no such thing!) - I'd advise doing some research in successful stories of this kind (American Psycho is a good start); you will notice how examining a character comes not only through how he sees things and what he thinks about them, but also what he sees and what he doesn't see. Character growth is also something that you should consider an important element of this kind (and any other!) of storytelling - keep in mind, however, that a character can be perfectly static and doesn't need to dramatically change (although many how-to texts advise otherwise). What helps the story is, of course, if the reader's perspective changes through the course of the narrative - the reader needs to be, however primitive that may sound, "entertained" in some way (in other words, the reader needs something to do, mentally, emotionally, intellectually...)
     
  3. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    Thanks for the feedback Burlbird. I think I understand your points. As always, execution is the challenge. I might put my first chapter up and let the forum chew it up.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Your biggest challenge will be emotional distance. Your narrator is relating the story from a detached viewpoint, unless story events are involving the narrator in real time. It's the same problem that arises in epistolary narration (telling a story through letters or a diary/journal).

    It's not insurmountable, but why weigh yourself down with that burden if there isn't a reward of more value than the cost of the impediment?
     
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  5. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    KIRK: Not to mention the most important
    reason for climbing a mountain.

    SPOCK: And that is?

    KIRK: Because it's there.

    :)
     
  6. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    Thanks for the feedback. I actually put an initial attempt up in the forum. It's titled "405 ways to hell".
     

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