1. The Byzantine Bandit
    Offline

    The Byzantine Bandit Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    5

    What's the name of this rule?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by The Byzantine Bandit, Jun 21, 2013.

    Does the rule whereby characters shouldn't acknowledge that they're in a work of fiction have a name?
     
  2. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    I wouldn't call it a 'rule,' at least not if you mean to imply it simply can't be done.

    I think it is sometimes referred to as 'breaking the fourth wall.'
     
  3. The Byzantine Bandit
    Offline

    The Byzantine Bandit Member

    Joined:
    May 5, 2013
    Messages:
    99
    Likes Received:
    5
    I meant "rule" more as in "guideline" or "standard practice."

    I didn't realize it'd be counted as breaking the wall. Thanks! I'm writing a short play that could use some levity, and this is one of my personal favorite things to do.
     
  4. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    Someone else may have a different name for it. I suppose depending on how you did it, it may not literally be 'breaking the wall,' though once they realize they are in fiction there is, by nature, a reader.

    Sounds like an interesting idea for your play. I agree that this sort of thing can be clever when done well.
     
  5. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,911
    Likes Received:
    10,104
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    From the other side, if the characters recognize that they are part of a fiction, does their acknowledgment make the piece metafiction since it is now referencing itself?
     
  6. Anthony Martin
    Offline

    Anthony Martin Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2013
    Messages:
    271
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    San Diego
    I don't know if there is a word for this; but there is a movie about it and it's named Stranger than Fiction.
     
  7. psychotick
    Offline

    psychotick Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,376
    Likes Received:
    315
    Location:
    Rotorua, New Zealand
    Hi,

    In a play or tv show breaking the fourth wall is when a member of the cast addresses the audience directly. They do this for effect a lot for example on Mrs. Brown's Boys and Miranda. I'm not quite sure if this is what is meant by the OPP. Or if he means some sort of self recognition by a character that he is actually fictional. In a book however I can't recall any examples of breaking the fourth wall being done save when the character is also a narrator. The Island of Doctor Moreau and The Princess Bride both have narration interjected into them and it works well to bring the story home as a story. An account of something that "actually happened" in the first case, and an acknowledgement that the story is a fabrication in the other.

    Cheers, Greg.
     
  8. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,728
    Likes Received:
    4,826
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    I remember some of the old She-Hulk comic books in which she was clearly aware that she was a character in a comic book. She would sometimes get angry with the writer of the comic, even to the point of dragging him into the comic and tying him up while she looked for a new writer to write her stories. I don't remember if she ever addressed the reader directly, so I'm not sure if this would be properly called breaking the fourth wall. It does, however, qualify as metafiction.
     
  9. Faust
    Offline

    Faust Contributing Member Supporter

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2010
    Messages:
    206
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    Amongst the Populace [Michigan]
    Reminds me of Narrator/Cast conversation in movies like Dudley Do-Right (With Brandon Frasier) and George of the Jungle (More Fraiser)

    Just two examples that I have been amused by. Of course this has been done in nearly every medium, one of my favorite examples was in the Japanese anime Duel Masters where the main character Shobu announced that if they didn't have new writers by next season he was quitting, as he was tired of all the running sequences.
     
  10. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    My favorite example of this is in the old Marx Brothers' film, "Horse Feathers", in which at one point Groucho looks directly into the camera and says, "Look, I have to be here. But there's no reason why you folks shouldn't go out into the lobby until this all blows over."

    I think it would be more a narration that becomes a personal commentary outside the story, such as: "Moved by her tears, Lester promised her that he would never abandon her. But, let's face it - men are notorious for not keeping their word."
     
  11. AVCortez
    Offline

    AVCortez Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    391
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Is that even a rule? Fiction would be pointless if the characters knew they were in a fictional world.
     
  12. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,123
    Likes Received:
    5,322
    Location:
    California, US
    Not true. As people have pointed out, above, there are plenty of examples of this happening in fictional shows, stories, and so on.
     
  13. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    no, it's not 'breaking the fourth wall'... that's when a character or the narrator addresses the audience/reader directly, as noted by others above...

    i've never come across a 'term' for having a fictional character be aware s/he is one... might be fun to dream up some... any ideas, anyone?
     
  14. Mithrandir
    Offline

    Mithrandir Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2012
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    15
    Location:
    In the general vicinity of the Atlantic Ocean
    Some time ago, DefinitelyMaybe had a cool short story with a character talking to the author. It was interesting.

    As for the term, perhaps meta-awareness or The Red Pill Syndrome. For instance: Character X got the Red Pill Syndrome half-way through the novel and stopped caring for his own life; I think he knew the author wouldn't kill him off. Poor guy didn't realize God had to sell books.
     
  15. blackstar21595
    Offline

    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2013
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    34
    Location:
    Brooklyn,NY
    Not breaking the 4th wall.
     
  16. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,911
    Likes Received:
    10,104
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    There is no rule. It is metafiction. Here are some examples of kinds of metafiction.

     
  17. AVCortez
    Offline

    AVCortez Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 13, 2013
    Messages:
    391
    Likes Received:
    22
    Location:
    Melbourne, Australia
    Stranger than fiction? He does not acknowledge that he is in a fictional story; he is a real character who's real world is affected by a "fiction writer." The world he lives in is still real to him, and at no point does he acknowledge that it is a work of fiction, only that it is dominated by a higher power, which happens to be a fiction writer. Acknowledging that the character is in a fictional world is the equivalent of putting "he woke up, and it was all a dream" at the end of the story.

    If the character knows what they are doing has no bearing on the "real world" then your story is just a character playing a video game.

    The only purpose I can see to it is for some sort of bizarre comedy relief.
     
  18. Drunkugly
    Offline

    Drunkugly Member

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2013
    Messages:
    19
    Likes Received:
    0
    Pretty sure Breakfast of Champions by Kurdt Vonnegut, the author inserts himself directly into the story and basically apologizes to the character for treating them so badly. It seems like this is usually done for comedic effect or as satire. Groucho Marx is one of my favorite practitioners.
     
  19. Anthony Martin
    Offline

    Anthony Martin Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2013
    Messages:
    271
    Likes Received:
    9
    Location:
    San Diego
    I suppose you are technically right, though he does meet the author of a work of fiction in which he is the protagonist and asks her to change the ending so that he does not die. Is this not an acknowledgement?

     
  20. Wreybies
    Offline

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 1, 2008
    Messages:
    18,911
    Likes Received:
    10,104
    Location:
    Puerto Rico
    I would say yes. An indirect one, but perhaps indirect is more artful than, "Holy shit! I'm a character in a book!"

    And this example is metafiction on at least two counts.
     

Share This Page