1. BeastlyBeast
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    BeastlyBeast New Member

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    Handling a First-Person Narrator's Death?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by BeastlyBeast, Mar 15, 2015.

    Hey, guys. After a while, I finally have a bit more than a week off from school and I want to try and use it to kickstart my fantasy novel. I decided that to try and make the book feel a bit more personal or to task myself with writing only what the characters know and feel, I'm going to write the book in first-person. However, I plan to have a few deaths of main characters in my book, some of them even unexpected. How could I handle something like this? When I think of first-person I almost think of a diary account. Usually, first-person narrators tell their story in the past or past-progressive tense - telling a story that already happened. In the case of a narrator being conscious of their own demise or the fact that they are currently dying, I'd need to tell the story in the present or, less likely, the present-progressive tense.

    I could write something like, "before I could blink my eyes, I felt chains and a strong grip around my throat - I couldn't breathe. I yanked at the chains and scratched at what I guessed were arms, but it was no use. I fought until my strength was lost and a deafening ring and clouding blindness overtook me." I think this could be decent, but it's the past. It creates the idea that this character either survived, or is now a ghost.

    Do you know any examples of first-person characters experiencing their death in prose? This would be a great help. Thank you so much!
     
  2. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    How many first person characters will you have? Does a new one pick up when a previous one bites the dust? If so, you could have that one describe the previous one's demise.
     
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  3. BeastlyBeast
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    BeastlyBeast New Member

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    I plan to have, at the moment, an innumerable amount of POV characters. My story is quite large, telling the tale of a dual-power crumbling into civil war, the planning of a retaliative attack on a growing clan across the sea, that said clan growing through conquest, and an eventual all-out war between the dual-power, grown clan, and rest of the being-conquered continent. I guess you could say I'm looking at an ASOIAF level story, give or take the size. With it's size, there will likely be many POV characters and may of them will die over the course of the story. So, I would imagine I need a way for characters to go through deaths themselves, as I can never guarantee that two significant characters will always be with each other at any given death in the story, if you know what I mean.
     
  4. Catrin Lewis
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    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

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    So they can't just disappear or be found dead?
     
  5. BeastlyBeast
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    BeastlyBeast New Member

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    I suppose they could go through that. But, like I said, I think the story's gonna be told in the first-person view to be extra personal. To just be found dead frankly would eliminate the fear of the death. It wouldn't leave readers shocked as to watching it unravel and occur, but rather because of the unexpected nature of the death - the reader will be left scrambling for how and why the character died, instead of just following through with the story. The more I look at the possible scale of this story, too, I see that maybe limited third-person or past-tense first-person will be the way to go. I just hate the thought of it, though, because I feel the story will lose that tense sense of immediacy and focus on character development that I'd like it to have.
     
  6. bossfearless
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    bossfearless Active Member

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    One of my favorite first person narrator deaths was...


    SPOILER WARNING



    ...



    ...


    ...

    At the end of the Dresden Files novel, Changes, Dresden is assassinated by a sniper. It read something along the lines of "something tugged at my chest, and I realized there was a rip in my shirt. Did some jerk come and throw red paint on my boat? Why was I falling?"

    You don't necessarily have to describe the exact events, just the way the narrator perceives them or how he feels about them.
     
  7. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    I like the way GRRM has done it the handful of times it's happened in ASOIAF.
     
  8. Dunning Kruger
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    Dunning Kruger Active Member

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    It's been a while but I am pretty sure that GRRM uses 3rd person limited and chooses a POV whereby someone is watching the death rather than experiencing it. So even if the character dying had been the POV in a prior chapter, that character's death is experienced from someone else's POV.
     
  9. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Is ALOFAF GRRM in this thread, from my POV. WTF?
     
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  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Sigh.... not everyone is a GoT fan, :rolleyes:. Could you maybe speak English for the rest of us?

    ASOIAF GRRM
    A Song of Ice and Fire
    George Raymond Richard Martin

    I have no idea if @matwoolf misspelled it or there's a joke there I don't get.
    I can't find a meaning for ALOFAF. I found AWOIAF: A Wiki of Ice and Fire but that's as close as I got.
     
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  12. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    It was only a single portion of joke.
     
  13. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    Sorry, I'm used to talking about it elsewhere.

    Generally it's 3rd person, but from their point of view. That changes once or twice though. The best examples of POV characters dying in their own chapters are:

    Firstly when Catelyn is killed at the Red Wedding, the description is "Then the steel was at her throat and it's bite was red and cold", then when Jon Snow gets stabbed at the end of ADWD, the narration ends with "He didn't feel the fourth knife, he only felt the cold"
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2015
  14. Dagolas
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    Dagolas Banned

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    Its a big nono to have a first person character die as it makes the story they just told impossible to tell as they're dead.
     
  15. GingerCoffee
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    A joke you're not letting the rest of us in on?
     
  16. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    'No, no, please Bentham. Why don't stand up the front of class, allow the rest of us to appreciate your, hmmm, your special sense of humour. Speak up boy, what was it you said !'

    'Tits.'

    'What!'

    'I said "tits," I'm sorry miss, don't, I'm sorry, not the slipper, no...'
     

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