1. MartinWellow
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    MartinWellow Member

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    Style Occasional use of "you" by narrator / author

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MartinWellow, Aug 14, 2016.

    Hi, I'm not sure how to phrase this question best.

    I am writing a story in the 'third person omniscient' style - basically the normal novel style.

    I just noticed that I keep using 'you' and 'me' in reference to the reader / author.

    Some made up examples might be:

    > Sophie was sad, but if you looked closely you might see a small smile.
    > The town was normal, much like your town or my town.

    The first one seems ok, the 'you' is a general anyone passing kind of thing...?
    In the second case the 'you' is intended to be the reader, which seems bad...?

    Looking at it now this seems like a terrible idea. Is there some convention for 'you's in this style of writing? Am I breaking some kind of wall by ever acknowledging the reader?

    Thanks,
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that the first isn't really "you", it's a sort of casual "one". And I agree that the second is more clearly breaking the fourth wall.

    But that's not necessarily bad. One of the fun things about third omniscient is the possibility of developing an independent narrator, someone who's standing apart from the action enough to comment on it in the narrator's own voice.

    I'd say the risk may come from just doing this every now and then. If you're going to have an independent narrator, I think you need to commit to the idea and really develop that voice. The voice certainly could include direct address to the reader, but if it does, I think it should be established as a regular thing, not just an occasional glitch.
     
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  3. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    Both examples (assuming they're more or less typical of what's happening in your prose) can be rewritten to take out those 'yous' out... if that's what you wanna do. And if you're new to writing (first-time novelist or whatever) my knee-jerk reaction is that you should.

    It's not that I'm disagreeing with @BayView. She makes a good point about independent narrator development (narrator as character, in other words) but it's not something I would try in my own work until I'm as experienced as she.
     
  4. MartinWellow
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    MartinWellow Member

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    Hi folks, thanks for the feedback.

    Glad to hear you seem to be of the same opinion as me. Basically either don't do it at all, or do it more and have it be a definite feature of things. As you can probably tell, I'm new to this and I just want to keep things simple.

    The story started out as a short, light, fun kids bedtime tale that was intended to be read aloud to kids. In that context it made more sense. However, I'm in the process of fleshing things out into more of a short childrens novel and those bits now stand out.

    I'm more than happy to get rid of them - will make a much more consistent tone.

    On a related note. I've found it strange going from "I need more words to turn this into a novel" to "I need to cut away loads of words to make this snappy and sharp." Part of me is getting sad watching the word count go down each day, whilst another part of me knows full well it's reading so much better now.
     
  5. JLT
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    JLT Active Member

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    It's interesting that you mention this, because Tolkien had the same problem. If you read "Fellowship of the Ring," it starts out very much like the children's story that "The Hobbit" was. The stylistic change happens, IIRC, once Frodo and his buds have left Tom Bombadil's domain. There's a distinct seam line there.
     
  6. VenomHawkings
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    VenomHawkings New Member

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    That's the strange thing about Fellowship though. I tried reading the Hobbit first, but I just couldn't stand the style. However, while reading Fellowship of the Ring (which is what I am reading right now), I didn't mind at all.

    Where is the line between regular you's and you's directed at the reader though. I caught myself writing something like: "Tears started falling from his eyes. Tears of joy, mind you."
     
  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    THIS, THIS, THIS! ^^^^

    Omniscient does let you address the reader like that but the key to making that work is to treat your narrator as a character that needs to be fully developed for the voice to work.
     
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  8. big soft moose
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    big soft moose Active Member

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    I was reading Heinlien the moon is a harsh mistress the other day and he does it from time to time "if you know L city you'll recall ..."
     
  9. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    IDK what to think. Though I cannot think of a book that I have read that does the you game/fourth wall break thing. It seems that like others have said on the subject, I too would be a bit conflicted with it. Though I found Tolkien to be boring after trying to read the Simerillian, and pretty sure there will be those that will call me a blasphemer for saying that Tolkien is boring. But that is getting a bit off topic. I will just have to go along with good faith based upon what the others have said on the subject, that if you can make it work then great. If not then it may come off as awkward. Either way good luck. :)
     

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