1. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Narrator for Development

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Flying Geese, Sep 14, 2013.

    I couldn't find a post to answer my question so I'll ask.

    I recently read half of Holes for the first time ever. I don't know all the terms for narration but I noticed that there is a narrator who knows enough to describe things to the reader. Though so far he doesn't seem to have an identity himself. At the same time, I realize that he isn't an all knowing being. It's like he just help to see through Stanley's eyes (and his mind)

    I think this is a great idea for my own novel. I don't know if that kind of narration has a name but I like the idea of someone just describing things to the reader and them not having their own identity. Just making things smoother.

    When I first started writing, I would put characters in places just so I could have an "excuse" for describing things like scenery. For instance I would put a character next to a flower pot, so that I could describe the flower pot. Needless to say, some of my scenes suffered from malformation.

    What I want to do now is just use narrator type writing where I need to and then not have it where it's not necessary. In other words, I am just going to do "what makes sense", if that makes any sense. Will this work or does this sound like a bad idea?
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    Hmm, I am slightly confused about what you're trying to say. It sounds to me like you're talking about Third Person Limited...where the narrator can enter the characters mind but it's not first person. Well, many novels use this type of narration, particularly if you want the readers to be close with the MC but not as close as first person. It depends on what you story is about...is it mostly character focused? Setting focused?

    I'm sorry if this isn't much help, still confused about what you're trying to ask here. ^^;;
     
  3. Dean Stride
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    Dean Stride Contributing Member

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    I share Youniquee's confusion, although what you're describing is rather reminiscent of 3rd person limited, as already mentioned. However, your last few paragraphs state you plan to use this type of narrative on and off, what does that mean? Do you plan on using various forms of 3rd person? Maybe 3rd person and some 1st person? You're not giving us much to go on here.
     
  4. Flying Geese
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    Flying Geese Contributing Member

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    Sorry for taking so long to get back. And thank you so much for your replies.

    It will never be first person. I am thinking 3rd person limited narrative on and off. Does that make any sense? I dont think even I know what i am trying to say.
     
  5. killbill
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    killbill Contributing Member

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    Third person limited single viewpoint is when you stick with the viewpoint of a single char throughout the story.

    Third person limited multiple viewpoint when you use thoughts and senses of more than one char at various stages of the story. I think this is what you mean. This is the most popular form of POV so go ahead. The only thing is to be a little careful when you are shifting from one char's viewpoint to another's so as not to confuse the reader. Example, you should at least start a new para when you are shifting viewpoint. Better still will be to have a new chapter for each new viewpoint.
     
  6. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @killbill sometimes I think that what kills so much contemporary fiction is proscription of literary techniques that came out from descriptive theory.. in this case: when someone talks about different types of narrative focuses, they are described as a set of rules ("chose the POV to write from"). What many people don't understand is that terminology like "third person limited" comes from descriptive literary critique and narratology - which are, as any other theoretical and vaguely scientific studies, based on observation, both of historical trends and of contemporary practice.
     
  7. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds like it's potentially a bad idea. I would suggest asking why. Why does your reader need to know something that no available viewpoint character knows? Why can't they find out when a viewpoint character finds out? How would the story be worse if they didn't know it? If the reader really needs to know it, can you reveal it in some other way?

    It may come from reading so many mysteries, but I would say that what's withheld from the reader can be as valuable as what's revealed to them.
     
  8. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    • I don't know all the terms for narration but I noticed that there is a narrator who knows enough to describe things to the reader.

    He's telling the story almost entirely in exposition. It's a style more popular for YA because kids grow up being "told" stories.

    It's a useful mode, but you need to take into account several factors. First, while it feels as if the author is simply speaking to us, and telling the story as he would aloud, he's not. Verbal storytelling, which is a performance art, requires the audience to hear and see the speaker (or at least hear them in the case of radio).

    On the page the same effect can be achieved by several techniques. One is, as in all fiction, we link each line to the next. In the second chapter, look at the first paragraph:

    Stanley was the only passenger on the bus, not counting the driver or the guard. The guard sat next to the driver, with the seat turned around facing Stanley. A rifle lay across his lap.

    Notice that each line naturally follows, as an expansion of the sentence before, and builds a picture the reader wants built. It may also answer a question raised by a previous line. For example, after we learn that the guard is watching him, we may wonder how the guard is armed. And that's what comes next

    Done well, by provoking the reader to want to know something, and then providing it, we can give the feeling that the reader is having an interactive conversation with the writer—a powerful tool. An example is:

    He looked out the window, though there wasn't much to see

    And that makes us wonder what he saw? So the line continues with: mostly fields of hay and cotton.

    That technique is analogous to the motivation/response technique that builds POV in a close third presentation.

    Another thing to note is that when he's narrating a live scene he stays in the character's viewpoint, moment to moment, rather then using the overview technique used in the backstory dump of chapter 3. This is where you hook the reader and make them live the story.

    Hope this helps.
     
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  9. Complex
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    Complex Senior Member

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    When you actually get to reading through "Holes" with a critical eye on its mechanics, you should quickly find the book's flaws to be something you don't want to emulate. Many authors have their strong and weak points, too often I find many great dreamers and world builders than great writers. An interesting thing I learned some time ago was to view the world through the lens of the character and not rely on the reader's favorable response or tolerance of the narrator. When applied practically, the reader can see and interact with the world as the characters, but just be careful of perspective swapping which is jarring and confusing for readers.
     
  10. bpress54
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    bpress54 New Member

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    Really? You guys are all writers and you don't know this is called "omniscient" narration?
     
  11. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, we do. We also know snark and are not currently in need of any extra. Thank you, though.
     
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  12. bpress54
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    bpress54 New Member

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    Not trying to be snarky. Just wondered why everyone was saying it is third person narrator when it is clearly omniscient.
     
  13. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    @bpress I haven't read "Holes" so you may be right, but OP says in one place that "At the same time, Irealize that [the narrator] isn't an all knowing being."
     
  14. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    The omniscient narrator is a 3rd person narrator. There is 3rd Person Omniscient, 3rd Person Limited and there are degrees of subjectivity/objectivity to both.

    This is not describing 3rd person omniscient, but instead 3rd person limited.
     

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