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  1. Twoods93

    Twoods93 New Member

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    Need help with POV please

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Twoods93, Jul 21, 2017.

    So I've had a story idea for a little while now that revolves around a main character reading from a set of files written by other people from her family. The things the main character reads are integral to her gaining knowledge of past events to help her move forward in the story. My plan was to have the main character's sections in 3rd person limited, while the files would be written in 1st person from the perspective of the writer of the file that is being read.
    My question is should I do it this way? I have considered doing the file sections in 3rd person limited like the rest of the story, but if someone read something written as a journal entry it would typically be written in 1st person and not 3rd. I am also worried that by writing in 1st person would make it difficult for the reader to get a grasp of the character as it would feel unnatural for the writer to describe themselves.
    Any help with this would be really appreciated! (Sorry this question is a little long winded)
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    You're fine so long as the journals, files, and other epistolary things are clearly delineated. You're essentially quoting primary source material there, so it would only be weird if it wasn't in first person.
     
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  3. Twoods93

    Twoods93 New Member

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    Thanks for he quick response! I was thinking it'd be weird for the journal stuff to be anything but 1st person. I was going to seperate the journal sections by chapters and making sure it's be clear that the MC was reading an entry. Any tips on how to introduce readers to the character in the journal? It'd be weird for them to describe themselves but I wouldn't want the reader to not have a face to the voice, if you get what I mean.
     
  4. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin A tombstone hand and a graveyard mind Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Any information about the author of the journal will probably have to come from the POV of the person reading it. All that shit will have to come obliquely, so I'd suggest having another character read it and call forth a memory. I'd be careful doing all that, though. The epistolary gag might start to wear thin if it plays as a proxy for a "real" person. There's only so much you can do with journal entries, so I'd try to stick within the parameters and accept the limitations.
     
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  5. daleydale

    daleydale New Member

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    I second what @Homer Potvin wrote!

    I would add that, unless these characters are deceased or "unavailable" (as in not going to be physically introduced to the story), you could supplement their character descriptions from their interactions with the main character. I'm not sure what your layout is going to be like or what the main plots are of your story are, but some dialogue and interaction between the family would help set the stage for the reader to understand the character before they read their file, and give you an opportunity to physically describe them. If they are not going to be present in the story, then conversations between characters, your MC's memories, an uncovered photograph, and other things can contribute to painting a picture of these characters.

    There was a whole other thread with a huge debate about describing a character in 1st person POV in the Character Development sub-forum (it's not exactly related in this case, I think, but if you're interested, give it a read--it's very heated lol), but I personally don't consider it necessary for the reader to know what a character looks like when written from the 1st person POV, especially if those characters are not going to be an active part of the story. I think it's only necessary to disclose the most important details about them that would contribute to their personality or character development or to the plot of the story. So in your case I don't think it's strictly necessary to give a character description unless there are some details that simply cannot be left out.
     
  6. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Is the character who is reading the documents the only one who is actually, physically present throughout the story? If so, I think you have no choice but to include at least excerpts from the documents. It would become really tiresome to keep reading this from the POV of the character, as you’ll have to keeep telling the reader what he read and how he reacted to it.

    “He was surprised to read that she had always resented his success. But the very next sentence left him agape...” and so on and so on ad nauseum.

    Including actual fragments in a different format (so the reader knows that they are now reading one of the documents) would get around this.

    I’ve always resented his success. It makes me sick to think of him doing so well when I’m stuck here. I wish he was dead.
    Gary sat back in his chair, struggling to take all this in.

    The other option would be to include (an) additional character(s) to whom your main can talk about what he has read.

    “I couldn’t believe it,” Gary said. “She wished I was dead. Dead!”
    “She didn’t mean that, surely?”
    Gary shrugged. “It certainly sounded like it from what she wrote.”

    That way you don’t necessarily need to include the whole document, but can allude to the fact that he read it, and to its content, through his conversations with (an)other character(s).


    I think any option other than the first one (no excerpt included and no other characters to talk to about it) would be fine.
     
  7. Twoods93

    Twoods93 New Member

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    Thanks for this response, it's given me a lot to think about and is going to be really useful going forward.
    My concept would have been the main character reading journals left behind by dead family members who hae dealings with a presence that has begun to target the MC.a lot of the time the MC would be alone with their thoughts as she is the last of her family.

    I think I've figured out a way to introduce these characters naurally through the journal entries, and he MC would have had interactions with at least one of them so that's a way to begin describing at least her perception of some of the writers.

    Thanks again,
     
  8. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    No worries! It sounds like you’ve got a really interesting idea and a good starting point :)
     
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  9. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I would put the fragments in block quotes, especially if any of them are long.

    Gary opened the diary and kept reading, now and then munching a handful of Cheetos.

    I’ve always resented his success. It makes me sick to think of him doing so well when I’m stuck here. I wish he was dead. (Longer longer longer longer longer longer longer longer longer longer longer longer longer longer longer longer quote.)
    Gary sat back in his chair, struggling to take all this in.
     
  10. Twoods93

    Twoods93 New Member

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    Oh that's acually a really useful tip, not sure I'd have though of that myself.
    Thank you!
     
  11. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    I didn’t intend to suggest that they should actually be formatted like that. I just wanted to show that they were separate because I don’t know how to indent the text in a forum posting like that ;)
     
  12. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Sure, yep, I was just responding because you said a different format and I had an opinion on precisely which different format. :)
     
  13. mashers

    mashers Contributor Contributor Community Volunteer

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    Oh right, sorry, I misunderstood. :oops:
     

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