1. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Is it possible to write a chapter where the narrator is bedridden?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Link the Writer, Aug 6, 2011.

    Scenario: You're writing a chapter where your 1st-person narrator is bedridden due to illness or disease. How would you handle it so the readers don't get bored?
     
  2. Pythonforger
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    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

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    Depends. Maybe the guy just lies there and thinks about the chess game he played with Satan yesterday, trying to find Satan's crucial weakness in preparation for tomorrow's game. Or maybe a thousand bustling maids come in and hand him letters from the chief inspector, from his son, from Bill Gates, from Obama, from his wife, from God, from a dancing drunk passed out naked in the streets and currently being handcuffed.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Watch Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window.
     
  4. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    One novella that uses that technique and might prove useful is Frank Kafka's "Metamorphosis" where a salseman Gregor Samsa, wakes up as an insect the story is told from his bedridden perspective.


    Metamorphosis
    http://www.americanliterature.com/Kafka/TheMetamorphosis/TheMetamorphosis.html
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    He actually makes it out of bed and moves throughout the house, interacting with the family. But the same story came to my mind as well, and I think it is a good suggestion. When I read the title of the thread that said "Is it possible..." I thought "Why the hell wouldn't it be?"
     
  6. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    I do recall that he actually did leave his bed and crawled about a bit. You see it's been decades since I read that story and the fine details have become a bit blurred. Thanx for the reminder. Did you like that read? I personally found it a bit tedious at the time. Don't know how I would react to it now though.

    About the thread title, I had the same reaction of "Why not?" since a bedridden individual's story can be told via his narrative recalls of past events, his expressed feelings of fear, suspicion, hope, hatreds and apprehensions.
     
  7. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I thought it was interesting enough. I wouldn't put it among my favorites. I like Kafka's The Trial better. How about you?
     
  8. WriterDude
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    WriterDude Contributing Member Contributor

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    Slightly off-topic, but I was playing a computer game called "Cthulhu saves the world" yesterday, and it did something quite fun with the narrative. In the game, Cthulhu has returned, but lost his powers and needs to be come a True Hero to get them back. The fun thing is the narrator doesn't want Cthulhu to get his powers, so Cthulhu listens to the conversation between the narrator and the player to learn what he has to do. It's a brilliant solution and just as ridiculous (and great) as the rest of the game. The point is the question "can you..." when it comes to writing is pointless. The answer will always be yes. Can you break the fourth wall? Can you have a story based entirely on a narrative? Can you have a story without any characters at all? Yes, yes and yes. You get the point. The question isn't "can you...?", but more "how do you...?". And that's a question with as many answers as there are writers. ;)
     
  9. Radrook
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    Radrook Contributing Member

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    I haven't read that one but I did particularly enjoy reading Kafka's short stories: "The Judgement", "The Hunger Artist" and "Before the Law" Anyway, back to the thread topic, if one uses flashbacks skillfully telling the story from a bedridden protagonist viewpoint shouldn't prove to be any more difficult than telling the story via flashbacks of a protagonist who is in the midst of playing a game of tennis. After all, the technique is identical.

    As for boredom, that can be induced in various ways.

    1. The story stagnates via making the same point repeatedly
    2. Excessive dialogue
    3. Monotonous dialogue
    4. Excessive narration
    5. Monotonous repetitive syntax
    6. Predictable outcome
    7. Insufficient use of imagery


    Whether the protagonist is bedridden or not is totally irrelevant to these mistakes.
     
  10. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Check out Oblomov by Ivan Goncharov. The main character is in bed for the first 100 pages.
     
  11. jennygirl267
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    jennygirl267 New Member

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    As long as you have an imagination, anything is possible to write. :)
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    As a writer, you learn to explore restrictions, both on yourself and your characters. These restrictions can lead to some very interesting writing. But first, I recommend learning to write well with minimal restrictions imposed.
     
  13. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Of course it can be done. Why not? Just look at "Misery" by Stephen King.
     
  14. Yoshiko
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    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

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    As long as you keep discussion and character's thoughts interesting you can definitely keep the reader from getting bored - one of the books I read recently involved the narrator in a coma for the first chapter.

    I was bedridden for six months in late 2008~early 2009 due to illness and I was never cut off from the world: people came to see me, I kept in touch with people through phone/email and, to be honest, my imagination was probably at it's best (I wrote four or five 80,000 word first drafts in that time). It's definitely not a fun situation but it's also something that has the potential to be written about in an interesting way. I'm not sure how much you know about the situation but if you have any questions I'd be happy to try and answer.
     
  15. theweatherman
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    In Stephen King's "Misery", one of my all time favorites, the MC is in bed for about 95% of the book. It can be done, and it can be done well. It's all what you put into it. Good luck!
     

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