1. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hinting at a turn of events?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by OurJud, Aug 6, 2016.

    I promised myself no threads on here today, but I think this one's a little more justified.

    Is it acceptable to hint at a twist or turn of events in a 1st person narrative, or is this a trick best reserved for 3rd?

    Let's say the twist involves someone who the MC trusted, turning out to be a baddie. So you might have a conversation between the two main leads, and the paragraph goes something like:

    'You're paranoid!' I said. 'We can trust this guy.'
    I couldn't have known it at the time, but nothing could have been further from the truth.

    Would it seem odd to then continue writing as if the MC believed the guy in question was trustworthy? Or would I have to reveal the guy's untrustworthiness immediately?
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2016
  2. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    I think it depends very much if the story is written in the present, or if it starts in the future, looking back on events. In the present, the POV character obviously knows nothing about the baddie so I'd say the hint would be unjustified. From a point in the future you can (and possibly should) insert comments. By the nature of the hint, the reader is left in no doubt that this guy is a baddie.
     
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  3. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    This could get confusing as we're now talking about present, past, and past-perfect.

    All I can say is that I try to write as though I'm sat face to face with someone, telling them a story of something that happened in the past.

    And I think that has just answered my own question. Or has it?

    If I declare that my judgement had been wrong, would I then return to telling the story as though I still didn't know my judgement had been wrong? I wouldn't, would I?
     
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  4. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    Personally, I'm not a fan of telegraphing the future of the story in that way. There are ways to foreshadow which will be more subtle. The reader will see the line/s and not think anything of it, then when the events transpire, they will have an Aha moment.

    Also, it depends on the voice of the narrator. If this is the style you like, and it fits, then by all means, telegraph away. There's nothing inherently bad about it. It's a style thing.
     
  5. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    Agreed. I think unless I'm clearly reading a story recounting a past event, mentioning things that the character can't possibly be aware of at the time is distracting and edges into infodump territory.
     
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  6. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    But that's the thing. No story told in past tense is ever really told in true past tense, otherwise it would be full of past-perfect verbs.

    I think I'll leave it out.
     
  7. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    What? Past tense is really passed tense. Your example was past tense. Don't confuse yourself over this.
     
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  8. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    If the rest of the book's narrative has already been in a conversational style (one of the Dresden Files books opens with The building was on fire, and it wasn't my fault. We later find out that Dresden is lying to us ;) ), then this could work, but I think the best was to handle it specifically is to either 1) make it short and blunt (longer sentences aren't as tense as shorter ones), 2) don't say explicitly "it went wrong," and/or 3) have the narrator be on the defensive:

    'You're paranoid!' I said. 'We can trust this guy.'
    So I was wrong for once. Sue me.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2016
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  9. sahlmi
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    sahlmi Active Member

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    Maybe, to avoid being so blatant, you could possibly say:

    'You're paranoid!' I said. 'We can trust this guy.'

    But I wondered if I was trying to convince him or myself.

    'You're paranoid!' I said. 'We can trust this guy.'
    But I wondered if at some level he was right.

    ...or something similar yet even subtler.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2016
  10. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    The more I think about it, the more inclined I am to keep it, as it would hopefully get a, "Ooh, why, what happened? Tell me more.' kind of response from the reader.
     
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2016
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  11. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes, I know what you mean, but this is a different dynamic. It avoids breaking the fourth wall by revealing I had my doubts, rather than explicitly admit I'd been wrong. What my example does is switch to the present to reveal I'd been wrong at the time, then return to the past where I don't yet know I was wrong.

    I suppose either or any of the suggestions would work. Thank you all.
     
  12. Spencer1990
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    Spencer1990 Contributing Member

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    If you like it, I think you should definitely keep it. When you finish the story, go back and reevaluate it. If you still like it, keep it. There's nothing wrong with what you have.
     
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  13. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is another of those times when you need to be aware of three distinct times for your novel - the time the story's happening, the time the narration's happening, and the time the reading's happening. I think you need to keep these three consistent through the whole book, unless there's a DAMN good reason not to.

    So if you've set up the story that the narration's time is a good bit after the story's time, I think it's fine to throw in a few comments that the MC wouldn't have known as the story is happening. But I think you need to establish this as your storytelling framework and be consistent with it. So don't have a single usage of language that refers to a separate time frame for the narrative and never use it again, and watch your use of "now" or other time signifiers that might be confusing if there's both a story "now" and a narration "now", etc.
     
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  14. Mumble Bee
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    Mumble Bee The writer formerly known as Chained. Contributor

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    'You're paranoid!' I said. 'We can trust this guy.'

    And I wasn't wrong. I mean, what exactly is trust anyways?
    Sure you trust your babysitter to watch your kid, but you can also trust a kidnapper to steal one!
    So you see, it wasn't that we couldn't trust him, its what we could trust him to do that I was off on.
     
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  15. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Very good point. I've tagged the paragraph in question with [NOT SURE ABOUT THIS] to make it easier to find. Luckily its removal will not make one iota of difference to the continuity or plot, so it can just lift right out if needs be.
     
  16. Laurin Kelly
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    Laurin Kelly Active Member

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    I think this is what I was getting at earlier. Of course as usual @BayView expressed it much more clearly!
     
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