1. AmadeusB
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    AmadeusB New Member

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    New to writing - help needed

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by AmadeusB, Apr 24, 2014.

    Hello guys, so I have a few good stories in mind (in my opinion) and I want to make them into books, of course, but I haven't actually started since I don't know much about the actual writing techniques and I was hoping you guys could answer a few questions I have in mind.

    1) How can you continue narrating a story in 1st person if the main character / narrator dies?
    2) If a story is being told in 1st person can you abruptly change the narrator? And if so, do you need to write an annotation so the reader is aware of it?
    3) In 3rd person, how do you express someone's thoughts? For dialogues you use quotation marks ("Herp" Derp said) Is there a certain way to do this?

    English is not my first language so if you don't understand a question I'm sorry.
    And if you guys could link me to a site that explains more about writing techniques I'd appreciate it a lot.

    Thanks :)
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Just a quick tip: when people say stories, they mean short stories. When you're talking about a longer work of fiction, you use the word "novel." The word "book" is ambiguous because it could mean a novel, a work of nonfiction, a collection of essays, etc.

    Use another character's point of view.

    Yes.

    Nope. It should be clear from the writing that a shift has taken place. If it's confusing to the reader, there's a good chance that you, the writer, didn't go a good job with the writing.

    It's the same as with dialogue, but you don't use quotes*. For example: It's hot in here, he thought. (Note the comma before the tag; this applies to dialogue as well.)

    * I know some people like using quotes and even advocate it, but I think not using quotes is the way to go. For one, if there's no "he thought" tag, not having the quotes makes it clear that it's thought and not dialogue.

    This site has a ton of useful information and helpful members. So if you ever have any questions, don't hesitate to ask because someone will always reply. To learn about technique/style, my advice would be to read as much as possible. The more you read, the better you'll understand writing.

    Welcome to the forum!
     
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  3. EllBeEss
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    EllBeEss Contributing Member

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    1) Generally you can switch the narrator to another character but I once read a book that was in first person (or it might have been third person limited) however in the end the POV character died and switched the POV to third person omniscient. I wouldn't attempt that myself but it was very effective in that novel because it was quite jarring and made the death really have an effect.

    2) Depends what you mean by abruptly. Something like:
    (Narrator A) I moved towards the figure leaning idly against the wall. (Change narrator to B) I froze when I saw my old friend approaching. I couldn't believe what I was seeing.
    Would jar the reader because there is no paragraph break and they won't follow. You need to start a new paragraph whenever you change POV character for clarity but you can change POV character whenever you like as long as the reader can follow it.

    3) You can also show thoughts rather than tell them explicitly. If your writing in 3rd person limited or first person the reader will understand that if a couch is described as ugly, the character thinks it's ugly. (Terrible example I know) You can also hint at thoughts through dialogue.
     
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  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all good advice above!

    btw, using " " for thoughts is totally unacceptable/wrong, will indicate the writer has not bothered to learn the basics of the writer's art...
     
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  5. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    People can answer your questions, of course, but we're talking about a profession, and if you could become a professional writer with a few short answers on a site like this we'd all be rich and famous. As Mark Twain so wisely said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” And since, at this point, you probably have a lot of “ that just ain’t so,” living in your head, what about the questions you should be asking, but don't because you're missing lots of background knowledge.

    That's why I suggest, in addition to asking questions, you do a bit of digging into the techniques the pros think of as necessary, so your questions can be more pointed and you'll have a better idea of what to ask. In that, the public library's fiction writing can be a huge help.

    My personal suggestion is to look for jack Bickham's name on the cover, but there are many others. And you have the advantage, by looking there, of knowing that whatever they suggest works, at least for them, so far as getting an acquiring editor to say yes.
     
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  6. Manu Joseph
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    Manu Joseph Member

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    I am also very new to writing, still learning the craft. There are many sources you can use.
    1. Stein on Writing by Sol Stein is a very good book to learn the craft.
    2. Writing fiction for Dummies is also a pretty decent book(despite the name)
    And then there are many online resources like this forum, different blogs etc.

    I hope I have helped you.. :)
     
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  7. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I only mentioned it for the sake of completeness. If I remember correctly, a few members on this forum use quotes for thoughts. There was a discussion about this a few years ago. But I do agree with you.
     
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  8. Slade Lucas
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    Slade Lucas Member

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    If you have a first person story it is probably ideal not to kill off that character. If you want to get inside a character's head and express their emotions then you can still do that as a third person novel. However, it would be interesting to see a first person story where the character dies and the narration maybe continues from their viewpoint, although you would have to put them in the position of being a ghost.

    Yes, you can change narrator. All characters will have a different narrative voice and this will come through in how you write and what is being written. You could even play around with this idea, maybe by misleading the reader into thinking that one character is speaking when it is actually another and only revealing it at the end of the section. This would be good for revealing things about a character's past.

    There is not right or wrong answer to your last question. Some people choose to put it in speech marks, some decide to put it in italics (this is my option) and some people decide not to do anything at all, just have it as part of the text. It's just whatever you feel comfortable with.
     
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  9. justlang
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    justlang Banned

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    I'd say read as much as you can and take care to choose what to read properly.
     
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  10. AmadeusB
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    AmadeusB New Member

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    Thanks for the answers guys, really helpful info.
     
  11. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    POV is covered adequately by the other posts.

    In terms of thoughts I sometimes use italics. But really, so long as you're settled into the POV the thoughts will flow. Someone on here taught me to write as my character would think.

    For example:

    He looked over at Clair who scowled back at him. She's obviously upset with me.

    He looked over at Clair who scowled back at him. Great, he thought. It wasn't even my fault, and I still get the blame, he thought. You'll notice this example goes into first-person for the thoughts but to me this is acceptable because it is actually deepening the third-person. Because the POV is third-person it's almost like I've got invisible he thought tags.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    sorry, but putting 'he thought' in italics makes no sense to me whatsoever, as eiter a writer or an editor... or did you just do that instead of putting the words in ( ), for the purpose of your explanation?

    if that's what you actually write in your mss, repeating it after each subsequent sentence isn't necessary and would be annoying to read...
     
  13. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    In first person POV you have two options. The narrator can continue to tell the story as a ghost, or switch POV to a second character.

    No annotation, rather start a new chapter and show that it isa new POV within the description of what is going on.

    Take a look at how Barbara Kingsolver tells the story of the Poisonwood Bible from the POV of each of four sisters or find another example, there are many.

    See the italics for thoughts debate thread for a thorough discussion of the options. It's agreed no quotations, but some use italics and others frown on it.


    Welcome to the forum. :)
     
  14. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    @mammamaia haha yeah I'd quit writing if I did something that horribly bad ;) I actually used 'he thought' tags 6 times in 56,000 words so it's not something I use often. As you suggested I was merely highlighting the fact that they are invisible as there's no need to write them in.

    @AmadeusB I use italics for thoughts rarely as I feel it is a technique to strengthen the fact in the readers mind that what they are reading is a thought. To me it allows (but doesn't always mean) that the writing on either side is poor. It gives the writer the opportunity to become lazy. Again I'm not implying that any writer is lazy for using italics. As I mentioned it's much easier and better, in my opinion, to describe the POV characters actual thoughts from their mind rather than from the narrator telling the reader that the character is thinking something.

    Example:

    1. John reached his hand up into the roof. Something scurried over it. What the hell was that, he thought.
    2. John reached his hand up into the roof. Something scurried over it and he wrenched his hand out. Shit, what was that? It better not be a mouse. Those pest guys told me they'd gotten them all. He listened to the scampering of feet across the roof as the noise faded away.

    Second example, switches to his thoughts by using one word to describe his current state of mind. Shit. This shows us his thought directly from his mind. Whereas the narrator can tell you what he was thinking, but can't really tell you what he was feeling in conjunction with that thought. In the second example because I've essentially switched to a first person thought POV, everything after it remains in his thoughts until I switch back to third person.
     
  15. E.James
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    E.James New Member

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