1. roach
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    roach New Member

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    Style Formatting pseudo-narration?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by roach, Aug 5, 2015.

    I've got a small question here. It'll sound strange but here me out.
    I'm writing a story with a rather cynical... entity, who is very critical of the story itself. He claims to be a narrator but that's really a misuse of the term, he's more of a commentator if you will.

    [Quick disclaimer, it's not a very serious story - think Douglas Adams level.]

    My issue is, I'm unsure of how to format his additions. As of the moment they are in grey text, but I know that's not a permanent solution. I obviously can't use quotation marks, italics is possible but it might get a little obnoxious. And giving tags such as the commentator said would kind of defeat the whole idea that he's not actually part of the story.

    So effectively my question is, is there a way to make it clear when he's adding his commentary, where it's not confused with the actual narration and description that composes the story?

    Cheers
    roach
     
  2. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    You could make it positional. Indent or only at the start / end.
    Italics looks good to me also, unless you use them for other purposes.

    I'd use a combination of the two.
     
  3. roach
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    roach New Member

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    You mean to say have his additions only at the end of paragraphs?
     
  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Clearly I don't know the character or what they're saying, so for me to suggest that specific location would be remiss.

    Chapter, paragraph or beat beginning or end are obviously all possibilities.

    If you introduce the character formerly and indent (for example) you could have them interject with wild abandon.
     
  5. roach
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    roach New Member

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    Forgive for I know this an amateur question, but by indent, you mean as a separate paragraph? If so how would this be differentiated from normal description/narration?
     
  6. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel.

        This is indented text. To indicate a separately commentating entity. This is indented text. To indicate a separately commentating entity. This is indented text. To indicate a separately commentating 
        entity. This is indented text. To indicate a separately commentating entity. This is indented text. To indicate a separately commentating entity. This is indented text. To indicate a separately 
        commentating entity. This is indented text. To indicate a separately commentating entity. This is indented text. To indicate a separately commentating entity. 

    This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the body of the novel. This is text that would form the
     
  7. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Just suggestions.
     
  8. roach
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    roach New Member

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    Oh I get what you're saying now. Yes that would allow greater freedom.
    You said you didn't see an issue with italics is that correct?
     
  9. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    When I read italics, I assume I am reading someone's thoughts, typically. I think it would all depend on how you introduce the entity to start with.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  10. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Can you be more specific about who this narrator is and what their purpose is?

    In the context you’ve given us, it’s very difficult to figure out what it is you’re trying to achieve. This narrator, are they telling the story? If so, it’s fine to have an “unreliable narrator”. You can have your narrator lie or withhold information. They can be cynical of their own story. They can be misinformed. In this instance, you needn’t separate their ‘cynical thoughts’ from the rest of the text; it’s just the way the narrator is.

    However... It almost sounds as if you’re trying to have a secondary narrator, one that will comment upon the story being told by another narrator, narrating over the narrator. What would be the purpose of this? How do you imagine this working? Is this like two people in a room, one correcting the other, as they tell the story incorrectly? Or is it perhaps like somebody reading a story, correcting it in their own head, as they know it didn’t happen that way? Either way, you’d need to set this up at the very start, so your reader is in no doubt about what it is that they are reading.
     
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  11. roach
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    roach New Member

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    Narratively speaking. this commentator's purpose is to give allow a self-aware expression within the story. They are able to speak of it, with the knowledge that is a constructed story. Very much a brush against the fourth wall.

    Exactly right. It's like someone reading manuscript on their desk, but the exact context of this second narrator if you will is intentionally ambiguous as it is gradually developed.

    Oh yes, and has been made as clear as possible. I've had plenty of time to experiment with this mechanic make sure it works conceptually, don't worry. What I'm looking at now, as I say, is the best way to handle the formatting.

    Cheers
     
  12. roach
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    roach New Member

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    That's fair enough. The current introduction is very clear, so what every formatting solution I go with won't be an issue. I suppose it's possible seeing as I don't already use italics for thought.
     
  13. Sifunkle
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    Sifunkle Dis Member

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    I'm still a little unclear: it's like someone reading over something already written and adding in editorial notes, or it's someone having thoughts while they're telling a story?

    If the latter, I don't see a need for any particular formatting (assuming the narrative mode is constant).

    If the former, I doubt it's common enough to have a set format, so I reckon be as avant-garde as you like. Italics might work if you're not otherwise using them. @Aaron DC 's indent idea works for me. You could use brackets like you did in your OP. The Animorphs series used < and > instead of quotation marks to indicate telepathic communication.

    I reckon if you're consistent, you can set your own precedent. Maybe come up with a few ideas and do a poll on the Research board to find out which is most popular?
     
  14. roach
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    roach New Member

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    Hey thanks. Yes it's the former. <This is an interesting idea> I suppose I've got some options here... I need to field test, perhaps pole as you say.

    If "could you" was recognized in any part of a sentence, the machine's two possible responses were "ask me again in twenty minutes" or a ten second delay followed by "and what would I get out of this?". [So, my little sister's entire vocabulary then.]

    If "could you" was recognized in any part of a sentence, the machine's two possible responses were "ask me again in twenty minutes" or a ten second delay followed by "and what would I get out of this?". <So, my little sister's entire vocabulary then.>

    If "could you" was recognized in any part of a sentence, the machine's two possible responses were "ask me again in twenty minutes" or a ten second delay followed by "and what would I get out of this?". So, my little sister's entire vocabulary then.

    If "could you" was recognized in any part of a sentence, the machine's two possible responses were "ask me again in twenty minutes" or a ten second delay followed by "and what would I get out of this?". |So, my little sister's entire vocabulary then.|

    If "could you" was recognized in any part of a sentence, the machine's two possible responses were "ask me again in twenty minutes" or a ten second delay followed by "and what would I get out of this?". So, my little sister's entire vocabulary then.

    Hmmm... there are certainly a number of options
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2015
  15. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Can you give us a short example (on this thread) of what you've already written of this interchange? It's hard to comment without seeing exactly what you mean. I can't quite get a handle on what you're trying to do, and the explanations aren't helping. A sample would certainly clear it up for me.
     

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