1. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    I summon the powers of the writing forums to help me!! Psshheeewwww!!!

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by DvnMrtn, Jan 23, 2010.

    I'm having a minor problem with my story. It's a horror story and it begins at the end of the story with the narrator sitting his wife down and telling her about the horrible night he just survived. Then the scene switches and the story starts at the beginning. However, rather than be told as if addressing his wife it addresses the reader. At the end it will switch back and the narrator will finish the story addressing his wife. I would carry the whole story though with him telling the tale to his wife but there is a lot of information that she would have known and I am unable to put it in that way. Does this seem kind of choppy? I will give you a quick example:

    ...Taking a moment to pour myself a cup of tea, I then held her hand in my own and began to tell her of the sinister events from last night.

    * * *​

    My story begins six months ago, on a day that would have been forgotten by most and remembered by few as simply a very normal day. For me however, this was the day where I would seal my fate and set myself up for horrors not meant for this world. At the time however, I considered it one of the greatest days of my life.

    I guess what I'm asking is how does this come across to you? I really want to write it as if it is the MC telling his wife a story, but I also need to include information that his wife would already know. Should I begin the second part by directly addressing the reader with something like:
    Now, my dear reader, before I can tell you what I told Margret I must fill you in on the background to my story.

    Any feedback is appreciated. :)
     
  2. TragicJuliet
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    TragicJuliet Senior Member

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    This is actually kind of tricky if you ask me, I believe that saying "My dear reader" is a bad idea unless you want him to through the entire story talk to the reader and not Margret. You could switch P.O.V's it would probably be hard, but such as have it start where he's talking in 1st person, talking to his wife "it all began.." kind of way then go to your 3rd person maybe the next chapter where the title of the chapter is "Six months ago" then say "It was a day like any other when Bob's life changed" oorr whatever? then like a few chapters later, have a 2 page chapter of her asking a question or what not, then going back to the story.

    Just an idea, i'm not sure if it HELPED or even..made sense hah
     
  3. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    I definitely wouldn't overtly switch between him talking to his wife and talking to the reader. I also wouldn't use any of those cliched narrative elements like "It was a day like any other..." or "My story begins...". If you want it to read well, you need to maintain the illusion that he is simply telling this story to his wife, and that will dictate what tone, narrative devices and modes you use.

    As for revealing information the wife already knows, why not bring her back into the narrative by having her ask for more information, or challenge something he says. Have him ask her something like "Do you remember the day...." and then her maybe reveal some crucial details that way ("Yes, it was the day when Bob...."(i dont know your story, but hopefully you get what I'm trying to say)). I think that would be your best bet.
     
  4. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    No. I don't think you've been able to get away with that since the 19th century. Exposition in a situation such as the one you describe is a classic problem, but it's one that needs solving, not shirking. You've already been given some ideas, I'll throw in another. Consider carefully whether you do have to include all the information you think that you have to. Leaving the reader wondering can be a powerful technique.
     
  5. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    I do indeed. Without it there is only the ending and no story. Although I think I am going to take the above suggestion and re-tell the story to his wife as if the information she already knows is false or if there is something there she didn't see before and the MC is trying to make her see.

    All very good suggestions. :)
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Talking to the reader directly is, as Tim said, out of fashion.

    You should choose a narrative mode that is consistent with the information you need to present to the reader. Therefore, having the main character telling the story to his wife may not be your best choice.

    The story is the important thing. Don't just choose a narrative mode because you think it's cool or different. Choose it because it is the best way to tell the story.

    Dean (NaCl) talks in his blog about "killing your darlings." This is a perfect example of that. Your choice to tell the story as from the MC to his wife is a "darling" you should consider killing.
     
  7. DvnMrtn
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    DvnMrtn Contributing Member

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    I think you're right Cog. I'm comparing both versions and the one where he isn't addressing his wife seems to flow much nicer. Do you mind if I post both versions or do I have to do that in another thread?
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    This isn't the Review Room. You cannot post excerpts here for critique. What you posted so far as a example of what you were asking about is ok, but that's all we can allow.
     
  9. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Active Member

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    May I suggest that you read "The Outsiders" by S.E Hilton? It's actually a book where the main character is telling his story to his teacher- you actually learn this at the end- but throughout the book it appears as if he is sharing his story with the readers. It's a good example of what you're looking for, and may help you resolve your issue.
     
  10. Operaghost
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    Operaghost Contributing Member

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    Does he have to tell the story to his wife, this just sounds as a lazy way of getting the story started, is this relevant to what has happened in anyway?
     
  11. writewizard
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    writewizard Contributing Member

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    An interesting switch might be to just describe the events from that night, without mentioning that it wasn't going on at the present time.
     
  12. Trezzy_Sometimes
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    First let me say that this sounds like a pretty cool idea. I like the whole "story begins at the end" thing. But the first sentence kind of reminds me of those junior high essays that begin with "in this essay, I will write about..." You know? I sort of get turned off when the speaker tells us what he's going to tell us about, before he tells us about it. If that makes any sense. Maybe you could lean more towards something like the wife asking how his night went, and then he starts saying it, and you could have the majority of your novel be him directly speaking to his wife. I don't know why, I just don't love the idea of him telling the reader "I began to tell her of the sinister events from last night". I think instead of him saying that he's going to tell her about it, he should just spit it out. I don't know. I hope I helped in some way. -_-
    Cool idea, and good luck!
     

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