1. Dylan_Gardner

    Dylan_Gardner New Member

    Dec 22, 2010
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    London, United Kingdom

    Help With Forms Of Narrative

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Dylan_Gardner, Jan 13, 2011.

    So I'm trying to write this book, and have decided to tell it from the point of view of four different characters in a split narrative. Narration will constantly shift between characters every chapter.

    I want to emphasise the difference in the characters both through their language and narrative structure. However I'm not sure about writing in different forms and if it would work.

    An idea of what I've got at the moment:

    Character One - First Person, Present Tense, Metaphorical and Philosophical tone, Ambiguous, Bordering on Sociopathic

    Character Two - Third Person, Present Tense, Intelligent, Methodical, Secretive

    Character Three - First Person, Present Tense, Casual, Bold, Confident, Lack of Common Sense, Empathetic, A "Player"

    Character Four - First Person, Past Tense, Diary Entries, Female, Fragile, Used, Scared Inside

    Do you think this could work or should I just write in similar person and tense with just mood differentiating them?

    Are there any examples of books that shift person and tense I can use to get ideas?

    I'd appreciate any advice, Thanks
  2. FrankABlissett

    FrankABlissett Active Member

    Nov 29, 2008
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    Sault, Michigan
    Could it work? Yes.

    Will it work? Don't know. It's not the easiest to pull off.

    And there are plenty of examples, though none are coming immediately to mind. Sorry.

  3. vanarie

    vanarie New Member

    Jan 13, 2011
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    I find the hardest part in writing is leaving a hook that makes people want to finish your work. Personally, I could read anything of my own work no matter the format but at the end of the day it is what your reader needs.

    I like the idea of what you are proposing and have played around with it myself. I think the most important thing is that you will have to have something to hook the reader in, with each perspective change.

    Also, they get comfortable with the narrator and you are stripping them of it. So they will have to leave their comfort zone and start from scratch again. A lot of readers don't like that. On the other hand, if there is some major conflict in your story that makes the ready die inside (to find out a resolution) it could be extremely successful.

    Additionally, changing tense could be a highly successful tool for revealing information at different times in the story. As you mention 'Diary Entries' for the fourth character in your book. Those diary entries could be a tool to tell the reader a different side of an event that they read in present tense. And that has the potential to be a great hook.
  4. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

    Jan 10, 2011
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    Southeast Iowa
    In all of James Patterson's Alex Cross novels he switches between first and third person regularly. In chapters with Alex Cross in them the story is told in first person. If Cross is not involved the third person is used.
  5. Allegro Van Kiddo

    Allegro Van Kiddo New Member

    Dec 15, 2010
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    Yes, there's my first my first unpublished novel...

    But, that's probably not what you're looking for, but I'm sure I've seen it before. I enjoyed writing that kind of story because it was fun to switch between POVs and tell one story, then contradict it in the next chapter. If you have competing takes on what's going on in the story I think that an interesting experience for the reader.
  6. Islander

    Islander Contributor Contributor

    Jul 29, 2008
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    I think you should skip the shifts in tense and grammatical person, unless you have a really good reason for them. They tend to be more of a gimmick than a useful storytelling tool, and they come at a high cost in the form of effort for the reader. Since you'll switch between different POV's, use third person, unless you have a really good reason not to.

    Instead, use differences in mood to convey the different charcters' perspectives, like you suggest. Describe the world as the POV character sees it. Narrate using the POV character's subjective judgements and perceptions.
  7. digitig

    digitig Contributor Contributor

    Jan 21, 2010
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    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    Jon McGregor's If Nobody Speaks of Remarkable Things switches between two voices, one of whom speaks (almost?) entirely in fragments.

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