1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Vernacular in narration

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Garball, May 16, 2013.

    When writing in third person, do you use your own vernacular or try to make the narration as 'neutral' as possible? If your story is not necessarily set in the South, I imagine you do not want Foghorn Leghorn as your narrator, but at the same time, is that not something that adds to your style or uniqueness as an author?
     
  2. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Read Flannery O'Conner, she's an author that has Southern characters. Read her story "A good man is hard to find."

    My personal input is, be as objective as possible. Reason why is because that was something stressed by Anton Chekhov, a great short story writer.
     
  3. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    I write as neutrally as possible because anything else gives personality to the narration, suggesting there is a being of some sort narrating. Now if I happen to have some being narrating...
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It does, but there are other elements of a writer's style.

    I don't write in any vernacular/dialect because it doesn't serve any purpose. But it's something I would consider if I felt that it would strengthen the piece I was writing.
     
  5. Nee
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    Nee Contributing Member

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    Set the voice of the story (the narrator's voice) in between the voices of your main characters. That way when you want to get into the heads of your characters you just lean slightly toward the voice of that character then back in to the stories voice when returning to the narration. This gives a bit more depth and flexibility to the story without giving an actual personality to the narration.
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    I agree with this.

    I keep regional vernacular out of it. It's just not something I fret over a lot. I feel like there are bigger things to focus on when I'm writing. I pay much more attention to making sure my characters' speech mannerisms are unique to them.
     
  7. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    What it does is bring attention to the narration, and thus, the author - and that's something you generally don't want. The exception being if, as mentioned above, you actually have a character telling the story.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    with third person narrative, someone is telling the story... that 'someone' can be a character, or some unknown objective observer, or you, the author...

    it's your choice to make, for your own reasons and the needs of your story, which of those will do the telling...

    if it's a character, then the narrative must match his/her persona/style...

    if it's an objective stranger, he/she/it can tell it in any way you feel fits the story and that entitity...

    if it's you, the author, telling the tale, then you can tell it any way you like... including using your own 'natural voice' to do it!

    many of our most successful and beloved authors are known by their distinctive narrative voice, so it doesn't have to be the bad thing some of the posters above seem to think it is... as long as the narrative style fits the story and works, i don't see how it can be a problem for an author to 'be him/herself'... and i don't see how bringing attention to the narrative would be a bad thing, if it's well-written and pleases the readers...

    i've been an voracious and constant fiction reader for nearly 70 years, an editor/writer/writing mentor for over 30 and that's my two cents plus, for what it's worth...
     
  9. shadowwalker
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    shadowwalker Contributing Member Contributor

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    When I say it brings attention to the narrative and thus the author, I mean it takes the reader out of the story and basically is the author waving their hands in front of the reader, blocking the words, saying "I said that! I wrote that! Aren't I clever?". If a character is narrating the story, that's one thing; otherwise the author should keep still and let me get on with the story. And that from a voracious reader of over 50 years. ;)
     
  10. heal41hp
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    heal41hp Contributing Member

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    This question has been rolling around in my head since I found it and I didn't consider something I employ in the book I'm writing.

    I actually change my lexicon and grammar (to a small degree) depending on which character I'm following in third person limited. If a character isn't quite as intelligent, I use simpler words and simpler sentence structure. If the character's more intelligent and more clever, I use bigger, more complex words and more complex grammar. I guess what I'm getting at is that I try to narrate with a voice similar to the focus character's to help the reader get an idea of who they're dealing with. So I suppose I'm kind of throwing in with Nee. :)
     
  11. JohnnyElsewhere
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    JohnnyElsewhere Member

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    The story I'm writing at the moment, the style of writing changes with which characters are in each chapter or particular scene. The villainous characters have a much darker style than the protagonists do.

    However, it's not to say that the vernacular used when writing for different characters is subjective at all. Like posted before, it depends on whose perspective it is.

    I personally enjoy shifting vernacular between characters. It sounds way more interesting, and I think it's a good exercise when writing.
     

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