1. Torpeh
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    Torpeh Member

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    Multiple Narrative Structure

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Torpeh, Jan 19, 2007.

    Hi all.

    I was conversing with two of my English teachers regarding a Gothic novel that I had planned and the multiple narrative structure that I wished to employ, two days ago. My original structure was simple, but my teachers and I managed to improve it so that it became more advanced.

    However, I feel that the following structure (the one I am to follow) may mean that I have to repeat the same details; I need to know how a reading audience would react to this if I could not get around it with my writing:

    (Please note that the journal entries tell the story of the ensuing flashback, hence the possible repetition. The journal entries are made by an omnicient narrator.)

    Prologue
    1. Journal entry (1st person, past tense)

    Person A's Narrative
    1. Journal entry of Person A's narrative (1st person, past tense)
    2. Flashback of actual incident (1st person, present tense)

    Person B's Narrative
    1. Journal entry of Person B's narrative (1st person, past tense)
    2. Flashback of actual incident (1st person, present tense)

    ...and so on until Person D's narrative is finished.

    The whole plot revloves around the family (who constitute people A to D) in a Gothic setting being stalked by a lumberjack. Each person's narrative regards their point-of-view and doings in the plot.

    I really need general feedback regarding the structure and how I can avoid repeating the same details in the journal and the flashback. If anyone is uncomfortable with any use of 1st person or present tense or both, my greatest apologies, but those aren't the aspects that I need guidance with or opinion on.

    Many thanks.
     
  2. powertodream
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    powertodream Member

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    Well, a journal isn't likely to outline the actual event, more give sparse details while focusing on someone's feelings. I don't know if you keep a diary/journal of some kind, but if you do, go back and look through it. What you're likely to see is impressions/feelings rather than a simple outline of what's going on.

    So I do see the advantage of putting a journal entry and then a flashback of the incident, in that you get both the plot and the feelings. The only caution I have is that in putting the second part in 1st person is to not relate so many of the feelings, as they'd presumably be covered in the journal entry.

    I don't know if that makes much sense, but it did in my head :D
     
  3. Ennubi
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    Ennubi Member

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    i like the idea of replaying a scene twice. in my experience, how people live things and what they might be willing to admit to possibly public consumption are two very different things. it wouldn't be police report in a gothic era story--who would be the law, anyway? just a thought.

    i can't speak for general readers, but i know i'd be annoyed having to replay factual data from the prior section- in my work i sometimes will use different characters reacting to the same events but only if info from their perspective needs revealed to move the plot forward.

    i'd be very careful about 1st person present. i love first person, the chance to crawl into another soul, but present tense is just hard to wrap the mind around for some reason. maybe because there's such a tradition about using past? italics or bold or something can also denote a scene change.

    not sure if you'd like this, but dragondoom by mckiernan has a marvelously complicated narrative structure with 2 characters who start in their chronological middle, jump the beginning, and finish with the end.

    my 2cents- hope something is useful

    ennubi
     
  4. Torpeh
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    Torpeh Member

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    Thanks for the input - it's very much appreciated.

    Just regarding the journal extracts, they are not written by people A to D; the owner of the castle that they are in is actually writing it, so, in that case, I'm not exactly sure it's a journal as such; it's a passage he has written that regards people A to D's encounters with the lumberjack.

    Thanks again.
     
  5. Torpeh
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    Torpeh Member

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    Okay, following is an extract from the 'journal.' I'm not looking for a detailed critique as I have not edited and checked it over fully. Is this is right sort of material for a journal? Would it fit in with the multiple narrative structure? Again, many thanks in advance to anyone who can help. It's really appreciated.


    15th of November, 1743

    Diary,

    Since Rosemary had entered my castle that afternoon, the confidence and determination, which were often the prominent broadcasts of her actions, had diminished; at first, it was the mere nagging sensation that her son's absence had enticed, but, as she ventured further into my domain with her grandfather and husband, the substance of her limbs began to dwindle; even when she had the boy back in her control, the labyrinth of passages and corridors that had echoed his footsteps and calls had inverted their alliances, allowing her little guidance to the gateway that she had first entered.

    It was a rather dark chamber that she was presented last, and her fortune in locating the boy was only facilitated by the dead-end. The fluttering that had set upon her senses anaesthetised for nothing other than a shortly endured moment as, upon her turning to face backwards and towards the corridor that she had previously followed in an attempt to leave, the irregular pulse and ebbing that had previously gripped her returned: just darkness acquainted her. By then, the illumination that the wincing windows permitted carried a crimson hue, bathing their faces in a gentle orange, which deepened into a threatening red and then nothing whatsoever as the sun fled the dying skies of the day; the occasional lamp greeted their exteriors with little other than a faint glow, but most hypothetical sources of light had been extinguished either by the draught or the cascading of water from the leaking ceilings.

    She conversed with the family regarding the escape that they wished to perform; even if they had past meetings with the passages of the castle, though, they would have found little guidance from each other. Their stumbling upon my abode was only through the misadventures of the boy: his young mind, unaware of the misguided idiosyncrasies of the forest, allowed him to run ahead of his family, who desperately called for him to return; as when captured amidst the labyrinth, anxiety burned deep in their chests, burrowing into their hearts and freezing all that was tranquil within them, and they raced to catch him; when they eventually caught sight of his crop of blonde hair, they were hence—my domain. They unknowingly found, and unknowingly traversed.

    Unable to conceive any guidance between their experiences of my castle's veins, they turned, hand-in-hand, and walked delicately back from the direction they had come. Slowly, as the minutes died and the puddles that they had not the light to recognise and navigate around sunk irritating dampness into their trousers, the synthetic bravery and hope that they had attempted to mould themselves into faded and peeled from their language and dissipated in the enveloping gloom; the pattering of water onto the cold flooring became nothing more than the norm to their minds, and they were soon insensate to the darkness, too; their trepidation, however, grew—not of their eerie surroundings or the warning wisps of winds that ran along the passageways—but of the fading knowledge and the realisation that, had they followed a sooth route, they would have received in the frost-encrusted forestry already.

    It hardly crossed their minds that anyone else inhabited my castle: their thoughts and processes focussed solely on their escape; the pressure of time had not been exerted by themselves; consequently, little guard for their own wellbeing was enacted, and they seemed blunt to the impending danger that encroached upon them; they could not have known that clandestine figures lurked beneath the tombs that the blankets of shadows concealed anyhow, but their surprising ignorance could not equally compensate life. Against the fortune that they desired to possess, Rosemary's life was to constitute the forfeit.
     
  6. Ennubi
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    Ennubi Member

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    whoa. you really really ought to check out some ravenloft. some of the web writeups are good. you'd have a lot in common.

    honestly? i had a hard time following, but this goth-style isn't one i'm comfy in (maybe i have comma-itis or something).

    having the villian thumb his nose at all of creation is a time honored tradition as far as i'm concerned, especially if he's insane. the catch is that yours talks so long and abstractly that i don't feel much connection to what he is saying. i like to see the forbidden thought processes that say murder is good.

    can you break it further? have him talk about how happy he is that the idiots are coming into his castle and then switch to the idiots being so happy to come into his castle? just a thought

    ennubi.
     
  7. Crazy Ivan
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    Crazy Ivan Contributing Member

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    It sounds good, and I can't really criticize on repeating different narratives, because my story has eleven main characters, with a constantly switching POV. (Yikes...) But anyway, I think this would be interesting, but mainly only if you did this: Put it in first person, and give each of the four characters radically different lifestyles, (i.e. One is scared of everything, the other is cynical and overcoming some trauma, the other tries to see the good in all humans, and the other has some whacked out philosophy about life that he/she applies to everything) and then put each event through their perspective, and write what they would think.
     
  8. Torpeh
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    Torpeh Member

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    Many thanks for the suggestions. Appreciated, as always.

    The writer of the journal isn't actually the killer, so it would be innappropriate for me to characterise him in such a way; however, you've brought up some interesting things that I'll consider taking on with the actual narrative of the killer (another point-of-view that I'm importing, but only at the end).

    Thanks again.
     
  9. Ennubi
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    all the best. the goth writing area looks hard.

    one last idea that might help? as dumb as this likely sounds, you might wanna netflix hoodwinked. it's a kid's story- but it has 4 different versions of the same set of events shown in a way to keep 'em lively within an overarching narrative.

    i was on the elliptical in the basement watching it, and i'm going...yeah, this so reminds me of her post and the narrative structure she was discussing.

    ennubi
     
  10. Torpeh
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    Torpeh Member

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    Thanks. :)

    Yeah, I'm about 3,200 words in right now, and it's progressing well; I'm also thinking of removing the journal concept and just having a narrator.

    Thanks again.
     

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