1. LipMedex
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    LipMedex New Member

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    "What is your reason, Character?"

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by LipMedex, Jul 13, 2009.

    I've another question I've always wondered, and since I have the opportunity to ask it, well....
    If you are writing in first person, does the MC have to have a reason for tell their story?

    Normally if a story I am writing is in first person, it does not begin with anything remotely close to, "I am telling you this story because I have the feeling that you should know...." I just write. My story now in no way states why the narrator is telling her interestingly enough life story, she just is. I know people have their own likings when writing their short stories and novels, etc. and what they include, but I was just wondering if there has to be a purpose for a story.

    Thanks!!
     
  2. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    In real life, some people tell stories just for the sake of telling stories, so I don't think you should get too worried about this. Just don't explicitly say "I'm going to tell you a story" in the first line of your book, obviously.

    Sometimes, though, there can be a reason a character is narrating a story. In The Catcher in the Rye, for example, most literary analysts, from what I know, seem to draw the conclusion that the main character, Holden, is telling the story to a psychologist or someone like that.

    But in my opinion, it's not something that should be too important. Telling the story through the unique perspective of a first person viewpoint, that's more important.
     
  3. UnknownBearing
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    UnknownBearing Contributing Member

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    nope. it can be a nice thing to do, but i just like to be in my character's head. it's a nice place to be. there doesn't have to be a specific reason besides an interesting perspective.
     
  4. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    It's cool if there is a reason, but there doesn't have to be. In Robin Hobb's Royal Assassin triology the MC writes down his life story because he's struggling to make sense of all the crazy things that he's been through. Sometimes things like that add depth to a narrative. But they aren't necessary, and when forced it'll sound inorganic and fake.
     
  5. Brightsmiles
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    Brightsmiles Senior Member

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    i agree with pp's. you don't need a reason, and you don't need to start with 'i'm telling you... blah blah blah"
    being slammned into the middle of someone's life and sharing the journey as it unfolds with them is imo, much more interesting.
     
  6. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    No. There is a distinction between the author and the narrator, and its important to realise this in your fiction (and, furthermore, that there is a distinction between the narrator and the MC, even in first person fiction). The character need not know that his life is being narrated, the narrator need not know that he is being read, or even that he exists. The only impetus for telling the story comes from the author - the character, then, is the subject of the story, and the narrator, the vehicle by which the story is revealed to readers. The idea of a character being aware of telling his story is a relatively recent notion in fiction (metafiction and such usually being attributed to the post-Modernists, primarily), and is by no means a necessity (or even a common occurence) in fiction. An example I could provide of a metacogniscent (sp?) narrator is Lolita, by Nabokov, in which the bulk of the story is presented to us as an edited manuscript of a deceased convict's memoir as given to his agent (complete with accompanying foreword by said agent). Perhaps it would be an interesting exercise for you to think about how a frame story like that, in which it is implied that the narrator is self-aware, affects the novel itself....
     
  7. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    You don't "have" to do anything, it all depends on what you are comfortable with and what you are trying to achieve. Some authors give the narrator a reason for telling the story, some don't.

    My favorite first person perspective story is the Chronicles of Amber series by Roger Zelazny. IIRC, it may have been implied somewhere in the first half that the main character is actually telling the story to someone, but I don't think that was ever confirmed. That's in itself an interesting approach, I think.
     
  8. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    First-person gives you several interesting options you can use as a "reason" for the story being told.

    It could be that the story is happening in real-time and therefore the narrator is experiencing it, it could be that the narrator is telling the story to someone else, or it could be the narrator reminescing the whole time.
     
  9. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Definitely don't NEED reason, but you COULD have one. If you can't decide or are struggling, I suggest reading a little bit from some first person stories, Catcher in the Rye is great, as well as To Kill a Mockingbird, or even that other one with Pony Boy I honestly can't even remember the author or if that was first person, but yeah... : )
     
  10. Unit7
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    Unit7 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would have to agree that you do not need a reason to tell the story. But if you can get one it wouldn't hurt the story.
     
  11. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    But then you have to write the whole book in present tense. And present tense is pretty annoying. oO
     
  12. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    @Anders: Doesn't 1st person POV use present tense anyway unless under certain circumstances? And in my experience, present tense is only annoying if the person writing it has no idea what they're doing.
     
  13. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Not all of them. I don't even think the majority do, but it's certainly not annoying.
     

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