1. Bill Cook
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    Bill Cook New Member

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    Style I'm writing a novel that is entirely in first person, so far. please tell me how to include a chapte

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Bill Cook, Sep 4, 2015.

    I'm writing a novel that is entirely in first person, so far. Please tell me how to include a chapter where two characters are having a conversation which I'm not privy to.
    I don't expect to have any more chapters like that.
     
  2. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    ??

    Switch between 1st and 3rd?

    If you want to write it entirely in 1st person, then you can't have your cake and eat it.

    Maybe bug the characters and have your MC listen back to the recording??

    If the idea is let only your readers in on this conversation, and keep your MC in the dark, then your only real option is to switch to 3rd person for that particular chapter.

    Roadside Picnic does something similar. Chapter One is in first-person present tense, then the rest are in close, third-person past tense. I have no idea why it was done like this and it still seems odd when I look back.

    But then switching POV is a real pet hate of mine.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
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  3. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Does the POV character learn about the conversation at some point after the fact? If so, you could do a simple one or two sentence lead-in to the chapter stating just that... but in a, you know, entertaining way. ;)

    I can't say if this is the right way to do it or if it's even a recommended way. I did it in a novel that's in fourth draft ATM and I have yet to read back from beta readers, so God knows, it could be a really dumb idea. But it's the only one I have. :)
     
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    If you really must have this, and the conversation is genuinely outside the POV character's knowledge, you may just have to risk the discontinuity. In China MiƩville's Perdidio Street Station there are at least two (perhaps three) smallish chapters that drop out of the 3rd person POV of the rest of the novel and slip into a 1st person POV of one of the characters, a garuda named Yagharek. Those discontinuous chapters are presented in all italics.
     
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  5. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Have your narrator spy on these two people. Either through a recording, or he/she is listening in on them.

    I was going to also recommend that you'd dedicate each chapter to a character each, that way you can have a chapter where these two characters talk and we're in the head of one of them. However I think your story is only going to be centered around one person and he/she will likely not be privy to the conversation unless he/she spies/records them.
     
  6. historymom
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    historymom Member

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    Is there a reason that the reader needs to be privy to the conversation while the MC is not?
     
  7. wellthatsnice
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    wellthatsnice Active Member

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    When does that convo take place in the story? I have seen authors write the prologue in 3rd person and then the story in first person and it doesn't seem to cause any awkwardness. So if the conversation takes place at the start then you might be fine.

    If the conversation takes place later, then changing between the two perspectives is problematic but not unheard of.
     
  8. Bill Cook
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    Bill Cook New Member

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    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll try it both ways. I like the challenge of keeping you happy, but the most humorous of the two will probably win out.
     
  9. Bill Cook
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    Bill Cook New Member

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    Yes, he learns about it. Many things were said about him, each painting their own version of what they want the other to believe of him.
    I'd like to check out how you wrote it.
     
  10. Bill Cook
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    Bill Cook New Member

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    Thanks for you help. There might be a way to do the first part. As for the second part, I've a radical idea that will take more thought. But, who knows. It might just work!
     
  11. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Overhears it
    Is told about it
    Hears a recording of it
    A mike is left on the characters don't know is on
    It's in the background of something else being recorded the characters don't know is going on nearby
    A security camera that picks up sound and images happens to catch it

    Or change POV as has been suggested
     
  12. Bill Cook
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    Bill Cook New Member

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    45 pages, 21 chapters.
    I wrote the prologue in the first person of another character.
    All these great replies have inspired me to arrive at a viable solution.
     
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  13. Bill Cook
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    Bill Cook New Member

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    What a wonderful imagination. All good ideas for the right story.
    I'm overwhelmed by the enormous response.
    I used to put sage in my coffee. Never tried ginger. I use salt, now. I've heard it neutralizes the acid, but I can't taste it.
     
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  14. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Chewing on candied ginger is a decent remedy for morning sickness. As for GingerCoffee, that's a silly teenage girl's imagination about marrying a boy she had a brief crush on whose last name was Coffey.
     
  15. Bill Cook
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    Bill Cook New Member

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    There are lots of revelations, exaggerations, lies and humor. Thanks to all your responses, I know what to attempt to do.
     
  16. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Just switch POV. You can switch to another first person point of view or to a third person POV. Then back to your first person MC POV when you're done.
     
  17. Sack-a-Doo!
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    It's right at the beginning of a chapter. This isn't polished (the story went a different way in later drafts, so this got cut) but it'll give you an idea of how I did it. Here are the first couple of lines:

    ----------------------------------------
    I found out later that Ginger hadn't gone home.

    By the time she crossed the last field and passed the water troughs where cattle came to drink, she was having second thoughts.
    -----------------------------------------

    After that, it's just straight third person to the end of that chapter.
     
  18. Bill Cook
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    Bill Cook New Member

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    Thanks for that.
     
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  19. Bookster
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    Bookster Banned

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    I've seen authors just switch back and forth between first and third and make it work. Lee Child is one, if I recall.
     
  20. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Quite a few do. It's the most obvious solution. You can try roundabout ways of working the information in while keeping the narrative in the same character's POV, and those methods can work though I think you have to be careful of doing something so transparent that the reader sees it as an artifice.
     
  21. Sack-a-Doo!
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    If a novel only goes to 3rd person once and never again, wouldn't it feel awkward?
     
  22. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I don't see why. But I don't get hung up on that stuff. I don't think most readers do either, but writers very much do :)
     
  23. Bookster
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    I don't know, but you should be able to set that section apart somehow.
     
  24. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    For me, absolutely. As a reader, not a writer.

    I think the only time that can work is if you have a prologue or an epilogue in the different... er... order of person. It would have to be a distinctly separate section at either the beginning or the end or it would jerk me right out of the story.
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You really shouldn't do that in a first-person novel. The whole point of the first person narrative is to explicitly restrict the perspective to what that character knows, or thinks she knows, or wants to tell the reader* at each moment in time.

    That's the only significant difference between a first person story and a third person story focused on the central character. Breaking that restriction will make the reader feel cheated or dissatisfied, even if the reader doesn't understand exactly why.

    (* A special kind of first person story features the unreliable narrator, who tells the reader partial truths and outright lies; the truth eventually emerges as the story nears the end, or can be strongly implied)
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2015
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