1. Albirich

    Albirich Active Member

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    Addressing the reader in third-person limited

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Albirich, Jan 23, 2017.

    How would I go about doing this, the PoV talking to the reader? How do I end the dialogue that breaks the fourth wall?

    "Blablah have you ever seen a trash panda this gorgeous? Look at his fluff damnit!" X said to you (reader)

    ^ This way seems...weird? And I haven't read any novels where the PoV in third-person limited breaks the fourth wall...so I'm just wondering on different approaches I could try. I will do some research asap, but I thought I'd cover more ground by making a post here too.

    ^^^^ The above also is too brash for my taste. Perhaps it should be done subtle, for the reader to figure out on their own?

    Edit2: Upon further consideration, using a "told you" approach would definitely break the contained fantasy in which I want the reader to immerse themselves in.
     
    Last edited: Jan 23, 2017
  2. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    I am not sure how it would work in third. It is generally limited to second and first POVs.
    Though you might try using it in thought form.
    Maybe you could see how they write Deadpool, who is well known for breaking the fourth wall.

    Either way, best of luck to you on this challenge. :supersmile:
     
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I was going to say that it should work just fine, when I realized that you said third person limited. Not omniscient.

    I can't work out a way for it to work.

    OK, let's give it a try anyway.

    Henry walks down the street, his shoulders twitching irritably with that sense of being observed. It has been weeks since his actions have been observed by you, dear...no, not dear reader, there is no affection for you, and increasingly little tolerance. His feeling toward you is growing toward hatred.

    He shakes his head to clear the thoughts and walks faster, seeking a newspaper machine. Reader or no reader, there are things to be done.
     
  4. Albirich

    Albirich Active Member

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    I'm only thinking about him literally talking to the reader, anything else would be third person limited.

    The inspiration I have for this comes from Richard III (Shakespeare) and House of Cards (both of course daringly similar when breaking the fourth wall). The PoV would not be knowing of the existence of us in the most literal sense, but rather talk to us in the sense he'd know someone would be listening, almost like talking to God.

    Example would be:

    Siegfried stood still, watching silently and most keenly at the man walking towards him. "A man thick as a pig, reflecting the life of a devilish glutton. I'd rather cut him up and hang him to bleed, but sadly, I need his money. Ugh, come now, let's get this over with." -> proceeds to greet and talk with the man before him.

    Now the only thing separating this from what could've been thoughts is the "come now." right? And it kind of, and very subtly hints that he brings us, the audience, to suffer this man's terrible bore alongside him.
    At first readings the reader would think he talked to someone else, but slowly come to the realization that he's talking to them.
    This is the only extent where I would break the fourth wall, but in order to do this, he'd have to use words that kind of show that he's talking to us, right? As in using plural words + verb, maybe? Perhaps this would only be necessary early on, and from that point the reader would understand that he'd be talking to us? I don't know really :D
     
  5. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Why can't it just be a thought like we all have every day? If I see someone I don't like coming towards me, I'll probably think, Oh god. Please don't speak to me. Please don't speak to me. I'm not talking to a god or any imagined reader, just to myself.

    Take out the speech marks, change it from first person to third person, and you have a thought from your character without any of the second person awkwardness.

    On the other hand if you really want to go ahead with this... I really can't think of a way that won't be awkward.
     
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  6. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    This may be a useful example for the thread about Movies vs. Books - you've got a stage play and a movie as your examples of what you want to do... but those mediums have very different features than prose fiction.

    I really can't think of a way to do this gracefully, although I'd love to see it if you figure it out. I'd be inclined to either drop the soliloquies or switch to First or Omniscient.
     
  7. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Put the quoted part in italics, and it will come across as the character's inner thoughts, which is what I think you want here rather than addressing the reader. In third limited I don't see why you would want to address the reader. This isn't a play or tv show.
     
  8. Albirich

    Albirich Active Member

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    I want to try a different approach, that is why I'm attempting on figuring out how one would do this. This is not about "ok it's cool on TV, it must be cool in books too" it's more about bringing the reader on, on a much more personal level, on that characters adventure, thoughts, and actions.

    I can't switch to omniscient because I have more than one PoV, but there will only be one PoV that talks to the audience in the way I explained, the others will remain completely regular third-person limited. I have reasons for that approach, but I won't discuss, and it won't have any impact.

    Instead of saying it can't be done, say "yes it can, but how?" Just look, Trump became President of the US! By bloody hell can I have a third-person limited break the fourth wall in dialogue!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Perhaps if I use ' instead of " when he directs his talk to the reader? It will be subtle, but the keenly eyed will notice, yes? Also thinking he could use the word 'you' a few times, for example:

    'You remember that wench with the crooked teeth? Yeah, her, a more stubborn bitch would be difficult to find, but you know what? I think we did it, look at this ghastly banshee in front of us. God save us.' -> followed by meeting or otherwise conversing with this woman.

    I also want him to talk ideology to the reader, and reasoning himself at times. Let's just use this for example:

    'My father always said there are exactly three ways to skin a cat, but after much consideration and thought, I have found there are exactly four ways to skin a cat.' (Sentence here doesn't have any meaning, just take it for the example I meant it to be)

    'I found that when you keep a dog on leash for the majority of its life, you better keep that bitch on leash. I would say the same goes for X. There can be no leeway for him to wriggle out of our grasp'

    I'm simply trying to figure out, if anyone have any input I'd be more than happy to receive it. This can be done elegantly, but I'm not sure I can figure that out on my own. Writingsforum unite!
     
  9. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    This doesn't make sense - you can use omni with any number of POVs.

    Well yes, but the question is whether you can do it elegantly and in a way that will work for most readers.

    I doubt it. If you ask 1,000 average readers what formatting difference there is between the first paragraph of a novel than the second, I bet hardly any of them will tell you that the first paragraph isn't indented. Hell, my experience is that most writers haven't noticed.
     
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  10. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    It has been done many, many times in third omniscient.

    If you want to do it in third limited, go for it. Instead of arguing about whether it can be done or not (clearly it can; whether it works is the issue), just write it that way and see what the end product looks like. If it works well, then there is your answer.

    I think I'd basically write those sections as though it was omniscient POV, which it is if you think about it, and write the rest in a traditional third limited.
     
  11. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Yeah, you can use any POV with any number of POVs, and omniscient third has traditionally been used for switching among POVs.
     
  12. Albirich

    Albirich Active Member

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    Thing is wouldn't it be off-putting if I had one PoV in full omniscient and the rest of the PoVs in third-person limited? Because with only one to three, maybe more or less (probably less) dialogues / rants / whatever you would call it, per chapter, would keep it rather contained. Like if you exclude the dialogue, the rest of the chapter would be third-person limited.
     
  13. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    It might to some. It wouldn't bother me, personally, if done well. I've read books with multiple POVs, where one POV is in first person the whole time, and the rest are in third person limited. I read one where one of the many POVs was even in second person, and none of the rest were. That sort of thing doesn't put me off if the author does a good job of it.
     
  14. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    To be honest, addressing the reader in this way is off-putting for me full stop unless it's framed in a certain way, but I don't think "zooming in" from omni to limited would make it any better or worse.
     
  15. Albirich

    Albirich Active Member

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    Couldn't the same logic be used for having a few breaks from third-person limited, with only one out of numerous PoV characters?
     
  16. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    So you want to write in third limited but have little bits of first person?
     
  17. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Maybe you @Albirich should give us a paragraph or two, so we can see how you plan to do it. At the moment we're just speculating about something that hasn't been written yet.
     
  18. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    Sure, I don't see why not.
     
  19. Albirich

    Albirich Active Member

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    Actually haven't written anything for this PoV, or at least the new version (old ones are really outdated storywise as well). I kinda wanted to see if I could fix this before writing, but I'll write a legit scenario of the novel where I would put this to use. Probably done within tonight / early tomorrow.
     
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  20. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I think it would help us to answer your question, if we could see an example of exactly what you mean to do, in practice.
     
  21. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    You seemed to be confused about POVs. If you are writing in third limited, the story stays with that one character. You don't have multiple POVs in third limited. You are limited to one character's POV.

    Sorry, but asking a question like this was probably a waste of time since you haven't even tried to do what you are talking about. Personally, I think it's a bad idea and is just going to come out confusing or jarring or not make sense. But now that you admit you haven't even written this... Well, I guess you would have figured that out if you had written or tried to write it out.
     
  22. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    Pretty sure that isn't true. A couple of mine have two third person limited POVs; each scene/chapter is limited to one POV but the story isn't. It can't be described as omniscient because no part of the narrative is all-knowing.

    If you had a novel with two first-person characters, you wouldn't call that first person omni would you?
     
  23. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I totally get what you are saying. Maybe I was confused by the way the OP was describing it or I'm just reading it wrong.
     
  24. Albirich

    Albirich Active Member

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    Each chapter is limited to one out of eight PoV characters, all in third-person limited except for one.

    And on the point of me actually writing, have I written some now. I'll finish the second paragraph and add it later into this thread. I'll have it done probably before tomorrow. It was a tad bit harder than expected, but I still hold to the idea that it could be a good if his sentences are written right.

    Now uh, seeing as this is for a 4 year WIP and something I plan to at least attempt to publish once it's done, should I really be adding parts of the novel out open? Remember I read something about that not being too smart, correct me if I'm wrong :eek:
     
  25. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    A few paragraphs, or even a few chapters, shouldn't be a big deal in terms of future publication.
     

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