1. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Restating Parts Of The story

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Scarecrow28, Oct 21, 2008.

    In my novel, I'm trying to make it so that the reader can figure things out as they are reading and get a better idea of whats going on. To do this, I've got a lone MC and an otherwise unimportant group of secondary characters. The MC's discoveries reveal stuff and the 2nd group of characters does the same. The problem with this is I often end up restating some facts or parts of the story so that the seperate sections make sense. Any advice? Should I keep it or eliminate and hope the reader can interpret everything? Thanks!
     
  2. Scarlett_156
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    Scarlett_156 Active Member

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    An example of what you're talking about would be helpful. Your description isn't really clear enough to get a good idea of what you mean. Are you talking about "the same scene from two different perspectives", or...? yours in Chaos, Scarlett
     
  3. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    Not the same scene from different perspectives, but the same scene or occrence mentioned and explained by two different characters twice. Ex:

    Chapter 1: MC: That car is black
    Chapter 2: Secondary Character: The car was black.

    Think of it in terms of a murder-mystery were the same pieces of evidence and the overall situations are mentioned by one character in one chapter and then the exact same evidence and the exact same situation is mentioned by another character in another chapter. Hope this helps clear us the confusion! :)
     
  4. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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    If the seperate groups are on the same case, then their bound to sometimes find the same evidence, as well as seperate evidence. Is this what you've been having trouble with?
     
  5. Cheeno
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    Cheeno Contributing Member

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    Repeating details isn't a problem if new material is revealed each time, especially if it's from different perspectives, which it has to be, right? Don't get me wrong, you probably already know this, but - any detail must be relevant to whatever is happening, and must contribute to the story moving along. If you're having a problem with repetition, maybe it's because it is superflous? If it's not, well, no need to worry, is there?
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'd repeat enough anchor details to help the reader understand that the scene remains the same from character to character. The elephant in the middle of the room (i.e. the dead body, or the mess left be someone who ransacked a room) may suffice. Beyond that, only have the character of the moment describe significant personal observations.

    I would NOT start with a comprehensive description from the first character to discuss the scene. Instead, I would let the reader build up a picture, piece by piece, from what each character describes.

    Also, people will look at the same thing or person and remember details differently. So the first person may see someone with dirty blond shaggy hair running out ot the room, another person may remember seeing someone with brown curly hair leaving through the window. It doesn't mean one person is lying or that there were two different intruders, it means the witness didn't really notice the details, and filled them in from imperfect recollection afterwards.
     
  7. Kylie
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    Kylie Contributing Member

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    Like Cogito said, everyone looks at things differently. Person A (who's a girl) may notice the dress someone was wearing. Person B (who happens to be a business owner) may notice has person has bad grammar.

    I think I get what you mean, I don't think it's necessary to repeat the same details a ton of times. Try reading a murder-mystery book and watch carefully how the author does it.
     
  8. Emerald
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    Emerald Contributing Member

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    That's a bad idea, though, unless you handle it really well. One shouldn't make the mistake that the average reader is scrutinising every last detail of your story -- unless you make it very obvious, people would assume there's two intruders, or just get confused.

    Kylie's example is better. Different characters might pick up on different things, put ultimately it's hard enough to piece together a puzzle and keep all the details ordered in your mind without false pieces being added in too.


    Plus, one of the most important factors in good writing is wording things economically. Generally, the fewer words you can use to get a point across the better. There has to be some creative way to avoid repeating yourself...
     
  9. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Anything is a bad idea if you don't do it well. If you give varying details on the same item, it is because that will be a point that you will narrow down later.

    If you're writing the same scene from different points of view, you're trying to present pieces of a puzzle that will later resolve itself into a clearer picture. It's easy enough for someone to comment on the presence of contradictory descriptions and ambiguity. I don't believe it's all that difficult to handle well.
     
  10. AnonyMouse
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    I would hope most murder mysteries handle it better than that. Something new must be presented, otherwise it's useless repetition.

    One person, knowing nothing about cars, may have seen only "a black car." Someone a little more knowledgeable may be able to narrow it down to "a black BMW with tinted windows and fogged tailights." The plot thickens even further if someone mentions a witness standing behind the vehicle, who may have seen the license plate.

    They're all the same car, and the same scene, but differing perspectives and levels of attention/knowledge change everything. That's how any detective novel or mystery works; there is/was only one scene, but the story is driven onward in search of the one person (or thing) that will tell the detective what he/she needs to know about that scene.

    So, to answer your question, don't repeat it unless there is something to be gained. If you must re-live the scene again (which happens often when narrating from the POV of two independently-operating characters) try not to dwell on it. But, my personal advice would be to put character #2 somewhere else altogether if he/she has nothing new to offer the scene.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In fact, that other person may well have seen "...a dark blue BMW with tinted windows and fogged taillights," especially if the event occurred in less tahn ideal light conditions. The second person may have seen the car as it passed under a street lamp, or simply have had a longer look at the car.

    Listen to the news sometime when they ask the public for information after a crime. The descriptions may be like "a brown or dark green pickup truck with New Hampshire plates and possible damage to the right frot fender." These are often composite descriptions from two or more witnesses.
     
  12. Emerald
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    Emerald Contributing Member

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    I'm just saying, if I was reading a book, and in chapter one, I was told it's a black BMW, and 10,000 words later in chapter 3, I was told it was a navy BMW, I would most likely not pick up on it (especially if I'm reading it one chapter per night), and I suspect not many others would either, unless they're really into it. They'd just continue on, assuming it'd been navy the entire time. Unless you hang a lantern on it (even something simple like writing "I think it was navy, or something - definitely a dark colour")

    And I would never do it in third-person omniscient. That would be way too confusing...
     
  13. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    Give the reader 2+2. They can come up with 4 on their own.
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It wouldn't make much sense at all to do it in third person omniscient. We already know its written from several POVs on the same scene.
     

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