1. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    Wording first and Third person

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by live2write, Sep 19, 2013.

    After reading several books for a brief period of time I came across a problem and question that is of concern.

    When writing in first person, I am writing as if I am telling my story. As if I am becoming the character and telling the tale of my/the character's journey. Of course I am going to be using "I, am, me, myself" quite frequently.

    With the story I am writing I found that writing in third person brings a better perspective. Reading several books that are in third person it raised a problematic question. Focusing on the protagonist (Angela), I use her name often as well as (she, herself etc.) After reading through the first five chapters, I found that I am constantly repeating her name several times. It might be an oversight but how much is too much when following and telling the story of the protagonist.

    I have a feeling I am overlooking this issue but when following and telling the story of the protagonist is it acceptable to be overusing (he/she, character's name) when describing her actions, feelings and dialogue.

    How do I overcome this and what are suggestions to make it seem less repetitive?
     
  2. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I ran into that problem to start with. What way are you working your POV's?
     
  3. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Don't use her name as a filter for things - for instance when she walks into a party instead of saying Angela saw Craig her ex-boyfriend and stiffened.
    Say something like - Oh great, Craig's here. Feeling her spine stiffen, she made a wide berth to the punch bowl. Time to get drunk.
     
  4. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    I am going for a Third person point of view.
     
  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    But alternating between characters? I'd do as Peach suggests, and tag only when absolutely necessary for sake of clarity.
     
  6. Aled James Taylor
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    Aled James Taylor Contributing Member Contributor

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    I would use the name as often as needed to avoid confusion. A reader who is reading your work for the first time will be unfamiliar with the events you describe and can easily become uncertain or misunderstand which character is which. I normally use single inverted commas to distinguish a charterers thoughts e.g. 'Oh great, Craig's here' thought Angela. I'm not sure if this is correct. If someone could advise I'd be grateful.
     
  7. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    I do alternate characters with action and dialogue. Another issue is to not to start every paragraph with Angela...... or Craig....... Of course I need to tell the story, but when does it come to a point where I need to stop talking about action and write about surroundings etc.
     
  8. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Dialogue can make a good opener, but using narration works well too. I find the story kinda dictates which to do when. When I'm reading through, sometimes it becomes apparent that one isn't working so I use the other. peachalulu's suggestion is spot on.

    @Aled James Taylor I usually weave thoughts into the narrative, and find I have no need to use inverted commas, or italics at all. But... that's just how I do it. I'm sure there are many trains of thought.
     
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  9. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    I am so confused at this point.
     
  10. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    If we could see a section of your work, that would be great! The thing to remember is that every good story teaches you how to read it. Likewise, every good story teaches you how to write it. If you find that you are using character names too much, one suggestion is to consider what you're talking about exactly. Perhaps you are focusing too much on the character from an outside perspective and not enough on the events and interiority. Even in third person, When you are following a character you should have access to his/her thoughts and should be able to experience things through their lens. That opens up another world of things that could be said. Still, an example segment would be helpful for analyzing your problem and seeing how it could be fixed.
     
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  11. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Well said, Andrae. You've pretty much summed up what I have been thinking.

    If one keeps looking at things from an exterior, witness-like position, names and tagging tend to get more usage, and as a consequence the reader feels less involved. It could perhaps be that, being used to writing in first person, this seems a bit strange. It opens up a lot of other choices one doesn't have to deal with in first person. The notion I struggled with to start with, is the fact that third can be every bit as intimate, but the scope is wider.

    @live2write Keep at it. I remember feeling exactly the same, but when the penny finally dropped, it made a remarkable difference to the quality of my writing. I know it's disheartening, not to mention a bit confusing, but a way round this will come to you.
     
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  12. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree that this is something that calls for an example, so that we can offer you examples of how it could be rewritten to reduce the name, she, her, and so on. I started to write an example of my own, but I think it's just not going to be effective if it's not based on your own writing.
     
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  13. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    now that I have read this what I will do is post a sample of one of my short stories that was written in first person and rewrite in third person. I will post a sample of them both. What I am confused and I have questions about is how to write the store where I am not only writing she did....she spoke....she etc. or he wondered....he (any verb)..... but also balancing it with detail, metaphors and actually telling the story.
     
  14. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    fact is, writing in 3rd person is very different from just changing "I/me/myself" to "she/her/herself" ... if you are pushing to do this, it's natural that you got confussed. Instead of going through your own story for a zillionth time trying to figure out what's wrong, maybe you should close the word processor for a day or two and get something to read: make it a 3rd person story... Try reading it with a pen in hand, for marking interesting parts. And don't just concentrate on how many times a character's name appears per paragraph - try finding out how the focus moves from the focal character to objects, actions and atmosphere.
     
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  15. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    As @Burlbird said, switching between POV is more than changing pronouuns. You must also change voice and the level of interiority. Still, t's complicated to talk about without an example. Let us know when you have an example posted somewhere. :)
     
  16. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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  17. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't see that as a huge problem in your writing, based on the snippet you posted... There are other, more important things to work on: what language do you write in, anyway? I know fast translations are far from being representative of your capabilities, but I thing you're shifting tenses to randomly, you use very broad (and strange) descriptions ( a guard looked "average"??), etc...
     
  18. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    My comments on the example are and will be posted in the other thread.
     
  19. live2write
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    live2write Contributing Member

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    The main problem I have with writing is translating my thoughts into words. I have rewritten the beginning of this story countless times. (I filled up two composition notebooks) to be honest. I am not a writer. I am a terrible writer and I do want to accomplish this. One of my goals is to write this book with all means necessary.
     
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  20. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    Don't sell yourself short. If you write and you are passionate about what you are writing, then you are a writer. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to. It may be a struggle or a mountain of a challenge, but it is not impossible. Just keep writing and you will achieve your goal in time.
     

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