1. Ryan Neely

    Ryan Neely New Member

    Feb 5, 2017
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    Question on Handling Reader Superior Position

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Ryan Neely, Feb 5, 2017.

    Hello, all! Here's my problem. I have a character who, at the onset of the novel, does not realize he possesses magical abilities. This magic is driven by the character's intentions (both conscious and subconscious) and through the course of the first act, the character makes certain decisions, has certain interactions, and learns certain information which rests firmly in both his conscious and subconscious minds. Then, at the climax of the first act, the character does something unintentional which creates a magic which will threaten the world ... and still he is unaware. However, the reader is fully aware, as the reader sees this play out firsthand from a different point-of-view.

    Now, during the second act, the main character learns of his magical ability, discovers the truth behind its nature (the conscious and subconscious intentions) and discovers the magic he created because it is, indeed, threatening the world. Everything the character learns through the second act answers questions for the reader about the motives and actions of the magic created at the end of the first act -- answers to questions the main character has yet to even ask himself.

    As we enter the third act, I need the main character to catch up to the reader. I need him to connect the dots of these questions and answers the reader has already solved so he can take action to solve the bigger mystery of destroying the magic he created ... something even the reader doesn't know how to accomplish yet. However, I don't want to rehash all the event of the book in the character's mind as he comes to these conclusions. In a film this would be simple ... you'd create a series of smash cuts replaying those pivotal moments throughout the rest of the film, but in a book you can't do that.

    Any suggestions on how to handle this?

    Thanks a ton!
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
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    I don't think you need to play it out too much if the reader is already aware. If the reader weren't aware you'd need to find a way to explain it, but as it is...

    Michael stared at the list he'd made. The explosion in New York--just after he'd eaten the burritos. The Amsterdam trains frozen in their tracks--when he'd been dealing with his week-long bout of constipation. The flood of brown sludge in Toronto--

    His stomach tightened as he raced through the rest of the disasters. It all fit. All of it. He was--

    "Sir," Daniel gasped from the other side of the office. He was twisted, contorted--just like Michael's gut.

    Relax. Oh, god, it's true, and you're doing it! You need to relax!
    Or something less scatalogical. But you get the idea.
  3. Toomanypens

    Toomanypens Member

    Dec 22, 2015
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    I'd do it with inner thought processes
    So he's doing some other thing and it starts becoming clearer to him because the current event helped trigger understanding of the past event

    Example, Lily ran away from home, she hated that place, the stench of booze oozed off her fathers lips most times they ever interacted.
    Eventually she discovers throughh a friend who is trying to figure out why her husband sometimes drinks heavily, that he does so because his best friend died.
    This PROMPTS lily to look for what started her father's habits and uncover the root of his pain that connected him to the addiction and understand his rreason, whether lousy or sympathetic as to why her father was always drunk. Lets say she uncovers that she had an uncle she never knew and he died in front of her father, and it twisted him up inside because he has ptsd.

    The audience might know this ahead of time because you show him doing small things that indicate it, and he doesn't hit or abuse anyone, he's just lousy as a father due to not being mindful.

    Usually you do it in slight hints. As in, you foreshadow that this is the truth, so the later reveal astounds the audience, adds meaning to the journey, and makes sense.
    But I suppose you can just outright state the danger, however, be careful that you prioritise clarity for the reader over accuracy for the author. But if it is clear to the audience, by using hints they can follow as to why he is ignorant of these dangerous acts, you then only have to expand on those hints as he matures and use them to PUNCTUATE the progression of his character.

    So for example, you might reveal one of these progressions each chapter, if it is the crucial message of your story that he must learn of his ignorance and find redemption and caution.

    Also, find out how people relate to it.
    A lot of people will relate to it because they did stupid things when young, like they played in a place they could have died as a child, they went somewhere with someone dangerous as a teen, they lashed out with their views and ideas about life as a twenty year old.
    You can ground magic in similar ways.

    Chris carried a notebook, in this notebook were reminders of all his many thoughts as a rising magician. He often tested the boundaries of acceptable magic, he was refused training and resented it. His thoughts were his way of proving he really could be a mage and withouut comfort of any other kind magic was his retreat. He retreated into it so far, he lost touch with the rest of the world, losing time and all care for world events. It was at age 23 it really manifested into something malevolent, as his attempt to bridge the devide between life and death led to him opening a portal to the great chasm. He stood through the threshold of the open portal and celebrated with glee. As dark clouds gathered he slowly stepped back out of the portal just moments before it snapped shut... it was only after the gate closed that he started to wonder if this was mre than just magic, and if he had stepped across a line that had nowaltered his destiny, forever connecting him to this horrid world.

    The drawing of the chasm always sent chills up his spine, as if something awoke, became aware of his world and was now looking for him so it might use him to come back through the portal with him.

    "Why did I do that! I was crazy!" he dismissed it, and chuckled, but only for a moment before anguish lingered behind his eyes. He couldn't avoid that it was a real thing anymore than a man could forget that his house was built upon a gravesite after he had dug up a skull in the bacck yard, and no amount of laughing it off could settle the unease he felt at knowing.

    Later in the next chapter you alter it a bit and add to it
    Katherine stroked his jawline and looked wistfully into his eyes... "There is a sadness in you". Chris was taken back by her comment, "Sadness?". She took a moment before continuing "It isn't from the ordinary things either, it is something you alone feel responsible for, something you did". Chris was uncomfortable and tried to readjust without making it too obvious. Katherine then stopped her probing gaze and laughed dismissively "You criminal!", her carefree attitude revealled that she wass teasing, but her words hit a place deep in him and resounded more than he was comfortable with.

    A few chapters later
    "Katherine is right, I am a criminal" he hung his head low in dispair...
    "I forced my will on nature itself, and what I saw was a rreflection of just how far I had fallen"
    The only question that remained was would Chris climb his way back up and out of that place inside himself, and by doing so, protect the world from his past.

    yadda yadda yadda the dark cloud finds another youth, comes out of the portal, and chris learns to become the antihero who sends it back to the other side because of his personal progress overcoming the chasm within.

    You end it like, he opens another portal to a place inside himself, and it matches the dark things. And in a final battle he is left in the aftermath, broken, beaten down, barely alive, with a grey view of the world, but everlasting is a glimmer or spark of hope, which eventually drives him to not giive up and he becomes a teacher or develops a guide book for young magicians.

    Anyways, my point is just to illustrate that character progression is what is driving the reveal, so just embrace that, rather than immediately or logically lay it out for the audience, let him grow.
    Of course there are certain beats you want to hit...
    Realisation, Responsibility, Reason, Reflection

    And you build him up through character interaction, events, and subplots. Utilising devices like a prop can help you signal to the audience that you are going to talk about a subject for a short time before continuing with the current story. It works like smash cuts, a guy looks at a photo of his wifehas a few thoughts, ccontinues with his journey, he will look at that picture several times or have other triggers that have the same theme, and they can signal for the audience that youare about to punctuate his character arc a bit.

    More or less thats how you accomplish it
    Or at least part of it
    Ryan Neely likes this.

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