Tags:
  1. Lisbuff
    Offline

    Lisbuff New Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2012
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Coventry

    Narrative advice

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lisbuff, May 20, 2012.

    Hi there,

    Can anyone advise me on picking and maintaining a narrative style? This is the one element I'm struggling with at the moment so any general help or suggestions/advice would be appreciated.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    That is a very broad question for a single thread. For any given story, and sometimes down to the scene level, there is narrative person (typically either first person or third person), narrative tense (past or present). Within these there are subdivisions, such as third person omniscient or third person limited. You can stick a third person point of view (POV) to a single character, or switch at various points among characters, or an anonymous POV. The POV character may be the main character or a more or less neutral observer.

    In addition, each writer has his or her own "voice" a manner of expression that reflects the author's personality, and whic develops as you grow as a writer.

    The various approaches all have advantages and drawbacks, so there is no universal best, although a third person past tense is probably the best default choice if you don't have a specific reason for choosing another.

    At this point, you are probably best off just writing until you develop a deeper understanding of the many options.
     
  3. killbill
    Offline

    killbill Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2012
    Messages:
    559
    Likes Received:
    24
    Location:
    where the mind is without fear...
    ...and to "develop a deeper understanding" you may try writing a scene involving atleast two characters in different ways. Write the same scene in:
    1) first person and then in third
    2) present tense and then in past tense
    3) from one character's point of view and then from the other charecter's point of view
     
  4. indy5live
    Offline

    indy5live Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2012
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Houston
    First person is more difficult but can give the reader a level of connection to the main character that can't be accomplished through third person. Third Person is said to be the easiest form before it doesn't restrict the writer from going some place the main character isn't. As far as present tense or past tense, do a search on your novels genre and see what is the most popular (It's popular for a reason, because it works). Thrillers need action tense in the present. Romances are usually narrated by a person reflecting on the relationship, so past tense is probably more apropos. And, if for some reason, you want to be creative, do what I do, and every few chapters have your main character jump into the first person view. But don't do this unless it has some kind of purpose in your story. For the most part, just ask yourself some question about your novel and write in the person/tense that is the most prevalent.
     
  5. Tesoro
    Offline

    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2011
    Messages:
    2,825
    Likes Received:
    290
    Location:
    A place with no future
    I don't agree. Third person can be just as intimate and connected as first if written well. And in the same way first person can feeel quite impersonal if it's not.
     
  6. indy5live
    Offline

    indy5live Active Member

    Joined:
    May 15, 2012
    Messages:
    171
    Likes Received:
    6
    Location:
    Houston
    Don't recall talking about intimacy, just connection. In first person, I see what they see, only know what they know, experience what they experience, and feel what they feel. As soon as the reader knows something the main character doesn't then the connection is strictly perspective (I'm told what I see, know what the writer wants me to know, experience where the writer takes me, etc.)
     
  7. JackElliott
    Offline

    JackElliott Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2011
    Messages:
    155
    Likes Received:
    12
    Start with the content of your story and work backward. If the main character is extremely interesting / has a unique voice, or you wish to create an unreliable narrator or a one-sided view of the world, then First Person might be a good choice. Keep in mind that Third Person Limited can achieve basically the same thing.

    Ditto for Omniscient styles.

    Narrative forms should ideally match the content of the story, or, if done deliberately, contrast with it.
     
  8. Lisbuff
    Offline

    Lisbuff New Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2012
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Coventry
    Thank you, your advice made me think hard about how I wanted to deliver the character and the story and I am actually getting somewhere lol
     
  9. Lisbuff
    Offline

    Lisbuff New Member

    Joined:
    May 19, 2012
    Messages:
    9
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Coventry
    Thanks for all your advice, it's given me a lot of food for thought! :)
     
  10. Ettina
    Offline

    Ettina Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2011
    Messages:
    440
    Likes Received:
    20
    Actually, that's a separate issue. There is third person limited and third person omniscient, and I've even seen a few stories in which a first person narrator says stuff the character didn't know (typically something like 'I didn't know it then, but...'). Any of these can be done well or badly. Third person limited is really only grammatically different from first person - in fact I've literally converted one to the other simply by replacing 'he/she' with 'I' (or vice versa) and a couple other changes, and communicated exactly the same thing. So third person doesn't necessarily mean knowing things that the character doesn't know. Personally, though, I find when I write in third person, I think of myself as someone watching the person who can also read the person's mind, while in first person I feel like I am the person. But that could be entirely unique to me, instead of an inherent difference in the two modes.

    Another form is when the narrator becomes their own character (like Lemony Snicket). This can give you the feel that someone is telling you the story, instead of you living it. Basically, for this, you have third person narration of the action, but with statements that could only come from a separate person who doesn't actually play much, if any, part in the story. Things like 'now, personally, I'd say that [protagonist]'s choice was very foolish, but you must remember that he was only a child and did not know any better'.
     

Share This Page