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Writing Outside the Box - Workshop for Unconventional Story Telling Methods

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction and Writing Resource' started by leia_naberrie, Feb 27, 2004.

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  1. leia_naberrie

    leia_naberrie Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2002
    There is a type of storytelling that appears to be phasing out of modern literature. This is the method of using the omniscient ?God? narrator who discerns the thinking- and feeling- process of all the characters in the story. It is also described as the method of ?shifting perspectives? whereby in a single scene, the reader ?watches? the unfolding events through the eyes and mind of two or more characters. Occasionally, the author adds his/her own ?voice? to the story by talking directly to the reader. Two popular examples of this type of storytelling taken from extreme literature genres include the Jane Austen stories and the Star Wars novelizations.

    This method is rarely used in fan fiction; in the one example that I am aware of, the writer was advised to ?correct? it. The more popular methods of fan fiction narration are the 1st person narrative, used especially in introspective stories; or the 3rd person, point-of-view narrative, where the gist of a scene is restricted to the physical and mental perspective of one character only.

    I brought up this topic to sample opinions on how this method of narration, as well as others, is viewed: Is the method of ?shifting perspectives? essentially outdated - and if so, can any method of writing (other than in a ?dead? language) be classified as outdated? Does it remain the writer?s prerogative to tell the story as (s)he sees fit - with emphasis laid on the reader?s understanding of the tale and not the method of telling? More generally speaking, which methods of writing do you as a fan fiction writer find ?easier? or more challenging? And which do you as a fan fiction reader find more appealing?

    ________________________

    8 Jun
    I'm unlocking this thread because I think it can still be useful as a workshop for writers who use or want to use less conventional writing styles like omniscient PoV, author's 'voice', 2nd person, present tense, misjointed sentences, etc.

    This thread has always been a workshop thread. Apart from general advice and examples, excerpts are permitted by writers who want feedback on their work, and concrit is expected from the fellow thread posters. A few guidelines for all thread participants:

    1, Keep in mind that an excerpt is not a finished work but a draft that a writer is uncertain about. Hence links and titles should not be included.

    2, For starters, try and keep the excerpt down to less than 500 words.

    3, Keep in mind that concrit is respectfully worded 'constructive criticsm' of a piece.

    4, There is an art to giving concrit. All concrit must include both positive feedback (the parts that worked) and negative feedback (the parts that did not work).

    5, Remember this is a thread for 'unconventional' styles. So advise like: "Re-write the Padme Ruminations scene from a limited 3rd person PoV" is not what the writer is looking for. More appropriate concrit are: "Why don't you write it with Padme as the 1st person PoV and not Anakin" or "Instead of shifting PoVs in the scene, why don't you use an omniscient narrator's voice to narrate the scene from both their views?".

    6, There is an art to receiving concrit. Remember that putting up your work here means you do expect public concrit. Please be guided.


    Ground rules laid, then let the fun begin!
     
  2. Mjsullivan

    Mjsullivan Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Hi, Leia_Naberrie.

    I'm not exactly sure i'm familiar with the style you're talking about, but i can guess what it is from your description. I was always taught there were a limited number of perspectives to be written from, and none of them involved switching perspective in a single scene (i seem to remember back in the day getting into trouble a couple of times in english classes for switching perspectives mid-narrative).

    Although, if it is done well, there would be nothing wrong with the "omniscient" perspective you described, i can understand why it isnt popular. For a start, it would be extremely difficult to write with this perspective and not confuse the reader straight to hell (most likely the reason that the one author was asked to 'correct' the perspective). Inexperienced (and indeed experienced) writers can definitely be forgiven for not wanting to fool around with changing perspectives.

    I think another big reason that it isnt popular is because it is such a broad, general way of writing that it can become very impersonal. 1st and 3rd person writing really allow the reader to identify with a particular character - facilitating the purpose of the protagonist. Sure, we're limited to seeing and hearing only what that character sees and hears, but in many cases this is the desired result. It keeps the author in control of how the reader is thinking.

    Personally, i prefer to read a good 3rd person story than a good 1st person story, but each one has it's better qualities. 3rd person is great for a well rounded story with multiple plotlines that require multiple characters to tell it. I've always thought that this was the most 'true to star wars' way of writing, as the original star wars stories always had multiple storylines.

    1st person is very good for different reasons, though. It's a great way of making a story funny and for giving the reader explicit insight into the mind and thoughts of the main character. But i'll confess, i havent read many 1st person star wars stories (though i hear I, Jedi is one of them. I like Micheal A. Stackpole, so i better check that one out).

    So anyway, yeah. I think being limited to the the physical and mental perspective of one character only is actually an asset to a story rather than a liability. And while i've never really read this godly perspective you mentioned, i'm going to stick to my good old english teachings, pick a P.O.V and stay with it ;)

    This is an excellent thread, Leia_Naberrie, and if you could, do you think you could post some examples of this perspective you're talking about? it'd be really interesting :)
     
  3. leia_naberrie

    leia_naberrie Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2002

    Glad I got a reply before I had to leave the library.

    Mjsullivan:

    I know from experience that the shifting perspective style rather difficult to write. I've never been able to do so successfully. I also find 1st perspective or one-character perspective simpler to right. I usually integrate myself figuratively with a character and simply... act out the scene. On the other hand, actual literal story-telling - campfire tales for example - is mostly done with the universal perspective.

    I think it is a matter of how the storyteller places him/herself in relation with the characters in the story. Am I, for example, Padme or Obi-Wan or a minor character? Or am I an invisible reporter, a bystander, observing actions and drawing my conclusions? Or am I the 'G-d' so to speak, watching from above, seeing into every heart and intention?


    I'll try and get a hold of a Jane Austen ebook so I can post some excerpts from there. In the meantime, here is an example I know from fan fiction:

    This is an excerpt from geo3's The Children of Circumstance Chapter Twenty:


    When Lord Tyrannus taught the D?laian conspirators to kill Jedi he kept the method deliberately simple. The warriors were not, after all, complex people.

    ?First, lay a trap,? he had said. ?Use the Jedi?s compassion against them.?

    Night had fallen by the time Obi-Wan and Tec had completed their purposeful walk around the City of Theed. Obi-Wan had been seen everywhere. They had spent a good deal of time in and around the spaceport district, around the Palace and in the Temple district. They stopped at a busy inn for dinner and then resolved to do one more circuit of the outlying areas near the spaceport. So far their senses had not indicated anything unusual.

    They were on a narrow street lined with small taverns and guesthouses near the spaceport when they heard screams and the sound of blaster fire. As one, the two Jedi ran toward the disturbance. People were running out of a small tavern. Obi-Wan ignited his light saber and stepped inside. Remaining in disguise Tec lagged behind him, not yet touching his weapon.

    Four men seemed to be armed with blasters. A robbery or a personal dispute, Obi-Wan thought, until he recognized the Force-signatures.

    A trap, then, he corrected himself, unafraid. He relaxed, increasing his inner strength with each breath. The Force gathered to him, ready to be channeled by the slightest hint of will.

    ?Everyone out,? he said firmly. ?Clear the room. Jedi business.?

    All but the armed men left, confirming Obi-Wan?s assessment that they were waiting for him. He could feel Tec?s presence just outside the door. Behind Tec in the street he could suddenly sense two more men in the shadows who might be part of this group. Tec will take care of them, he thought, turning his focus back to the group that was quickly moving to surround him.

    ?Make certain the one you seek to kill is alone,? Lord Tyrannus had continued. ?Make the first move ? a Jedi will not. Attack aggressively. He will not expect it. The Jedi are accustomed to being approached with great caution.?

    They are attacking me using mere daggers, Obi-Wan realized as the four men assailed him swiftly and aggressively at the same time with blades, not blasters. What are they thinking? Why do they insist on fighting with a Jedi at close quarters? Waiting until the first dagger came close to his body he used the Force to deflect its momentum, unbalancing his assailant and throwing him back until he smashed into the bar. In a fluid motion Obi-Wan turned to stop the second assailant who had aimed a dagger at the middle of his spine. His light saber cut through the man?s wrist, sending it and the dagger flying. This is absurd, he thought, stopping the third attacker with two swift passes of his light saber as the man threw himself toward his neck, blade outstretched.

    The fourth attacker came at him from the side, not holding a dagger, but with a
     
  4. dianethx

    dianethx Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Mar 1, 2002
    I'm very glad you are posting this. I have a very difficult time NOT writing in shifting perspectives. The one-view is extremely hard for me to write and it seems awkward and stilted. I haven't had a writing course in many, many years but do remember being taught that one viewpoint was the way to write properly. Since I'm not writing for money and I enjoy the stories, does it make a difference? As long as my readers aren't confused?

    Keep going. This is very interesting.
     
  5. spiritgurl

    spiritgurl Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 6, 2003
    I'd never really thought about it until I read this but I suppose I tend to shift perspectives as well. It just feels more natural than getting stuck in one perspective the whole story, and I've been told that people like my writing style so I must be doing something right. :) I think single perspectives work well for certain pieces, like ones where you're really examining the character or a story from a "certain point of view".


    sg
     
  6. Mjsullivan

    Mjsullivan Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Ahhh right, straight off the bat: I liked that excerpt quite alot, actually. You're right, leia_naberrie, it really is unique and interesting to read. My favourite part of it is the flashbacks to Tyrannus' instructions from the past.

    And i think, actually, that the flashbacks are the reason that this part is so successful. They kind of act as a dividing device. This is the passage as i read it:


    When Lord Tyrannus taught the D?laian conspirators to kill Jedi he kept the method deliberately simple. The warriors were not, after all, complex people.

    ?First, lay a trap,? he had said. ?Use the Jedi?s compassion against them.?



    The section above is from the point of view of the ubiquitous, god-like narrator. It works very well to set the scene


    Night had fallen by the time Obi-Wan and Tec had completed their purposeful walk around the City of Theed. Obi-Wan had been seen everywhere. They had spent a good deal of time in and around the spaceport district, around the Palace and in the Temple district. They stopped at a busy inn for dinner and then resolved to do one more circuit of the outlying areas near the spaceport. So far their senses had not indicated anything unusual.

    They were on a narrow street lined with small taverns and guesthouses near the spaceport when they heard screams and the sound of blaster fire. As one, the two Jedi ran toward the disturbance. People were running out of a small tavern. Obi-Wan ignited his light saber and stepped inside. Remaining in disguise Tec lagged behind him, not yet touching his weapon.

    Four men seemed to be armed with blasters. A robbery or a personal dispute, Obi-Wan thought, until he recognized the Force-signatures.

    A trap, then, he corrected himself, unafraid. He relaxed, increasing his inner strength with each breath. The Force gathered to him, ready to be channeled by the slightest hint of will.

    ?Everyone out,? he said firmly. ?Clear the room. Jedi business.?

    All but the armed men left, confirming Obi-Wan?s assessment that they were waiting for him. He could feel Tec?s presence just outside the door. Behind Tec in the street he could suddenly sense two more men in the shadows who might be part of this group. Tec will take care of them, he thought, turning his focus back to the group that was quickly moving to surround him.



    This part just gone was from the P.O.V of Obi Wan



    ?Make certain the one you seek to kill is alone,? Lord Tyrannus had continued. ?Make the first move ? a Jedi will not. Attack aggressively. He will not expect it. The Jedi are accustomed to being approached with great caution.?



    Another flashback, from the same narrator as before. "Going back to the start" sort of thing. It serves to reset the flow of the narrative, and yet keeps it moving forward at the same time



    They are attacking me using mere daggers, Obi-Wan realized as the four men assailed him swiftly and aggressively at the same time with blades, not blasters. What are they thinking? Why do they insist on fighting with a Jedi at close quarters? Waiting until the first dagger came close to his body he used the Force to deflect its momentum, unbalancing his assailant and throwing him back until he smashed into the bar. In a fluid motion Obi-Wan turned to stop the second assailant who had aimed a dagger at the middle of his spine. His light saber cut through the man?s wrist, sending it and the dagger flying. This is absurd, he thought, stopping the third attacker with two swift passes of his light saber as the man threw himself toward his neck, blade outstretched.

    The fourth attacker came at him from the side, not holding a dagger, but with a small oblong object with two prongs strapped to his hand.

    Padawan! Beware!

    Instantaneously Obi-Wan obeyed Qui-Gon?s voice, as he had always done, and wrenched his body forward. It was only because of this movement that the prongs embedded themselves in his side and not straight into his heart. The Jedi Knight lost consciousness immediately as a series of synchr
     
  7. Thumper09

    Thumper09 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 9, 2001
    Interesting topic. :)

    I'm kind of curious about whether people are differentiating between "point of view format" and character "perspectives." Maybe there really is no difference and I'm just delusional, but to me, point of view is first-person, third-person, etc., while the perspective is the particular character who the reader is seeing the story or scene through.

    That being said, I'll usually keep the same POV format throughout the story, but I'll switch character perspectives; however, I'll only switch perspectives after an obvious formatting break that warns the reader that I'm shifting gears.

    Example:

    Character A began eating dinner. Even though the food tasted awful, he heroically gave a smile to encourage his wife, who was still learning to cook.

    ***

    Character B watched her husband eat, trying to read his reaction to her cooking. Did that smile mean he really liked it, or was he just telling her what she wanted to hear?

    ***

    Granted, that was very simplified and short, but that's basically how I work it. Also, I don't change unless I feel it significantly adds to the story to change.

    I've always enjoyed first-person POV stories, though they can be very difficult to write. Third-person is a lot easier for me, so to get the best of both worlds I usually use third-person limited (third-person POV but seeing into the mind of one character). Once in a great while I have to use third-person omniscient (third-person POV seeing into the minds of multiple characters) for an action scene because too much is happening for the one character to see, and otherwise it would turn into a lot of talking heads afterwards explaining everything. The "omniscient" part usually ends up being more of a "this character thought this and did this, then this character heard this, felt this and did this, etc." More of a very expanded third-limited.

    Again, if I have to switch POV formats, I do it after a formatting break, and I try to keep POV switches to a minimum.

    I was reading part of a novel a month or two ago where the author used third-person omniscient, though I didn't realize it at first. A scene would start off with just one character's thoughts, and then a few pages in it would suddenly jump to another character's thoughts without warning. That was kind of jarring to me, but I wasn't expecting it, either. The example from geo3's story was fine, though, maybe because I was expecting the shifts.

    Anyway, hopefully that made some sense. :p

    -Katie
    Thumper
     
  8. Darth_Lex

    Darth_Lex Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Nov 17, 2002
    Thanks for starting this topic, leia_naberrie! :D

    I?ve been thinking about this issue a lot myself recently. I?m now writing the third episode of my AU trilogy. In the first episode, A Destiny Renewed, I had a number of scenes with omniscient narration. By the end of ADR, and for all of Hope and Darkness and The Paths of Fate, I?ve used exclusively third-person POV narration. I recently decided to go back to ADR and edit it ? to bring it into the same ?voice? as HAD and POF, so the entire trilogy will be consistent. I?m not changing the story, but only matters of craft like POV and dialogue.

    Along that line, let me recommend Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Browne and King. It has all sorts of good advice, from dialogue and pacing to POV and narration. They point out that most contemporary writers use either first-person or third-person POV; because omniscient narration is difficult to do well, they advise against inexperience writers (like me! :D ) using it. It?s not ?wrong? by any means ? just somewhat out of favor. (The authors attribute that in part to the effect of television and film on readers, BTW.)

    If you?ll forgive the long post, I?d like to share two scenes from ADR that I?ve rewritten. I?d very much like to hear your comments about the differences ? making these revisions was a very interesting learning experience for me as a writer.

    Okay, here?s the first scene.

    Original Version: Omniscient Narration

    Luke Skywalker was certain he was being punished. For what, he could not possibly imagine. I must have done something terribly wrong to deserve this. There are hundreds of Padawans in the Temple, dozens my age. Why her? Why? It?s not like Master Obi-Wan not to tell me. He?s usually very direct about his purposes in my assignments. He looked up from his plate of pasta to the Padawan seated across from him at the little round table in this dingy restaurant in a small isolated village on Gimna 3. Her red-gold hair was tied back in a single knot at the back of her head except for the thin Padawan braid draped behind her right ear. It sparkled in the dim lighting and her piercing green eyes bored into his gaze. He tried to focus his blue eyes in a stern stare at her, unconsciously tugging at his own sandy brown Padawan braid. ?And what, may I ask,? he demanded, ?are you so smug about??

    ?Oh really, Luke, just shut up and eat,? Mara Jade laughed. She knew exactly why they had been sent three weeks ago on this mission together. For as long as either of them could remember they had feuded in the Temple. Initially she simply had enjoyed teasing and taunting the son of the Jedi hero because he took it so poorly. Soon, though, he began to fight back: pulling pranks, framing her for his own misdeeds, sabotaging her training programs and academic exercises. The situation improved for a short year-and-a-half after she became his father?s Padawan. Once he became a Padawan as well, however, their Masters used them as pawns in jokes on each other, and that launched the two youngsters into their rivalry with renewed vigor. Just enough of it was mean-spirited that she knew they would be expected to resolve their differences before taking the Trials. And because she was over two years older than Luke, Mara faced a bit more urgency.

    They were one of several pairs of Jedi investigating the death of Jarren Organa on this planet six months earlier. So far they had learned little that seemed to be of use, although they had transmitted everything back to the Temple anyway in case connections might appear with information acquired by the others.

    On their slow stroll back to the local inn after dinner, their comlinks beeped simultaneously. An urgent transmission from the Jedi Temple had arrived, their respective Arfour units reported. They were to contact their Masters at once.

    The two Padawans broke into a run. Their orders were to contact the Temple only at the designated intervals. This co
     
  9. Knight_Dilettante

    Knight_Dilettante Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 24, 2002
    I'm fascinated by this topic too. Although, I wasn't aware of the lack of shifting perspectives in fanfic. Or in fiction in general really. But maybe I am just a clueless idiot.

    I think I would find it very hard to keep to a single point of view for an entire story. Possibly for a vignette but otherwise nope. And even within scenes I sometimes want to show both sides. Although I did hit something the other day where I decided I couldn't allow the 3rd person distant (or whatever they call it) narrator to suddenly swith to following one character just for one sentance when the whole rest of the scene was following a different character. I still have to figure out how to get that information out though. Tricky.

    Certainly [link=http://boards.theforce.net/message.asp?topic=14416806]Remembrance Night[/link] is an omniscient perspective and the POV changes from paragraph to paragraph at times. I did work to make sure that the thinker of the thoughts was clear to the reader though. Certainly no one said they were confused.

    do remember being taught that one viewpoint was the way to write properly
    See this is why I haven't taken writing courses since I was a young teen. If there is any endeavor in which hard and fast rules do not have a place it is the creative arts.

    Although I suppose now I ought to try doing an entire story in one viewpoint just for the exercise. Once I get everything I've already started out of the way anyway. I admire tremendously Darth_Lex's strength of character to rewrite a finished work to match perspectives. I understand the drive to do so but I don't know if I could manage it myself. Although it did inspire me to clean up Remembrance Night today which is a good thing as it was long overdue.

    KD
     
  10. Knight-Ander

    Knight-Ander Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 2002
    I have trouble telling the two perspectives (omniscient and third-person) apart. I believe that most of what I read and write is from an omniscient point-of-view. My definition of third-person is when the author interjects an opinion about what is taking place in the story. The omniscient POV is just stating the facts.

    For example:

    Omniscient

    Anakin twisted his body just in time to avoid the lightsaber slash at his back. With a flick of his wrist, he redirected his opponent's blade, allowing him room to gut the Sith with the lightsaber in his left hand, killing him instantly.

    Third-person

    The Sith lunged foolishly at Anakin's back with his red-bladed lightsaber. The young Jedi could have finished him with one move, but he took a second to toy with his opponent. With the blue blade in his right hand, Anakin parried the Sith's attack before dropping to one knee and gutting him with the green lightsaber in his left with all the flair of a holo-drama actor.

    Am I on the right track?

    On the subject of shifting perspective, I don't mind it as long the change is noted with device as mentioned by one of the previous posters.
     
  11. AlrikFassbauer

    AlrikFassbauer Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Apr 2, 2003
    In my latest story, "The Light" , I experimented with shifting views : First, an omnipotient view, then theview of a person who took part in the adventure, and later this whole turning out to be a report from an officer. ;)

    It was an interesting experiment for me , to see how things could possibly work. ;)
     
  12. Mjsullivan

    Mjsullivan Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2003
    Knight-Ander
    My definition of third-person is when the author interjects an opinion about what is taking place in the story. The omniscient POV is just stating the facts.

    True to an extent, but what defines the "omniscient" here is an ability to switch between perspectives of characters at will. Eg:

    Anakin twisted his body just in time to avoid the lightsaber slash at his back. A wave of relief washed over him. With a flick of his wrist, he redirected his opponent's blade, allowing him room to gut the Sith with the lightsaber in his left hand, killing him instantly. The sith felt sad about this, and his last thoughts were of his favourite stuffed animal he had left behind in his childhood.

    See? The reader is told what both of the characters, sith and Anakin, are thinking. 3rd person would use only one or the other's POV.

    Darth_Lex
    I think the omniscient narration led me to do too much ?tell? and not enough ?show? to the readers at the beginning of the scene. In the revised version I had to get out of Luke?s head ? so I used dialogue instead of internal monologue to convey his thoughts.

    I think this is probably one of the biggest arguments against the omniscient perspective writing, Darth_lex. The temptation is to just sit down and bash out exactly what each character is feeling, i think - and that can often lead to a boring piece of writing.

    "showing" a reader how a character is feeling is what i've always preffered: we understand what the current character (who's POV we are writing from) understands. It opens up a great scope for interpretation, leaving the reader with the impression of how a character feels rather than being told how they feel. I'm sure everyone's heard the "show dont tell" lectures a million times, so that part can be skipped over :)

    Thumper_09
    The "omniscient" part usually ends up being more of a "this character thought this and did this, then this character heard this, felt this and did this, etc."

    This, i think, is the habit that people can fall into if they use 3rd-person omniscient. "He did this, she did this, he thought this about her, she thought this about her, then they both thought the same thing at the same time, but he interpreted it like this, and she interperted it like this...." It doesnt take long for the reader get confused or bored, i think.

    Darth_Lex
    That leaves the reader wondering how much Luke and Mara have really learned about the Chiss, and even the reader doesn?t know the truth because we never get to see the Chiss perspective. Neat trick by Tim Zahn, IMO.

    Yes, i thoroughly agree. 3rd-person limited perspective is a great way of creating mystery and intrigue. Zahn is a great writer of this perspective. Pick up any of the Thrawn Trillogy books, and i can guarrantee that you will not find a single passage told from Thrawn's POV. Thrawn is a central character to the story and is in alot of scenes, but always veiewed through the eyes of someone else.

    Why? Two reasons: (a) Thrawn's brain is probably far too complex to even contemplate writing about :p, and (b) so that the reader never knows what Thrawn is thinking. How much does he really know? How does he interpret art so intimately so as to betray fundamental tendancies in species?

    We are never meant to know this, and it makes the Character of Thrawn just that much more mysterious, powerful and all-round excellent.

    Knight_Dilettante
    See this is why I haven't taken writing courses since I was a young teen. If there is any endeavor in which hard and fast rules do not have a place it is the creative arts.

    I totally agree, but i dont think of this as a hard and fast rule - there's no such thing in creative arts, as you've just said. But having said that, there are some guidelines that you really do want to follow, lest your work ends up being confusing or even frustrating to read. I mean, by the same token, no-one demands that we use punctuation either, but it kind of hel
     
  13. solojones

    solojones Winner, JCC Word Whiz star 10 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Well of course it all depends on the type of story. For a story that's specifically about one character, I use third person limited. But for a more ensemble story, I use third person omniscient. Sometimes for those I also switch when I switch between actions of a certain character.

    It's not always that simple, though. Sometimes a blend of narrative perspectives is most effective in literature. For instance, has anyone ever read One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich? That uses three different and sometimes odd-seeming narration styles... but it works. It just depends on the story. I'm not sure I've seen something that complex a style in fanfiction, though. It would be interesting to see something like that done.


    [hl=darkgreen]-sj loves kevin spacey[/hl]
     
  14. geo3

    geo3 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 29, 2002
    Whoa! I didn't even know this thread existed, and now I find that not only has leia_naberrie used one of my excerpts as an example (betareader's prerogative, of course - we've had so many discussions on this subject anyway), but my excerpt has been wonderfully re-focused by the excellent Mjsullivan! Bravo! I think you did a great job.

    As it happens, I'm in the process of doing the same kind of restructuring on that story as Darth_Lex is doing on his.(MJS - what would you charge to finish off the rest for me? ;) ) I started writing before I started thinking about writing, and I admit that I didn't give any thought to the proper use of points of view. Wiser and more experienced folks called me on it, and began this whole thought process. In the meantime I have gradually trained myself down to using a single point of view at a time, although I agree with dianethx that sometimes it feels really irritating and limiting to do that. Love scenes in particular seem to want some kind of side-by-side POV on occasion.

    Sadly, I found this thread at a time when I'm due elsewhere, and don't have time to address specifics like Darth_Lex's re-written scenes, although I would like to. I'll be back.

    Great thread, leia_naberrie!
     
  15. Knight-Ander

    Knight-Ander Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 2002
    Mjsullivan - The reader is told what both of the characters, sith and Anakin, are thinking. 3rd person would use only one or the other's POV.

    Gotcha. Thanks. :)
     
  16. Mjsullivan

    Mjsullivan Jedi Youngling star 3

    Registered:
    Dec 8, 2003
    solojones, i will attempt to track down this book and give it a butcher's. Can I ask you the name of the author?

    Love scenes in particular seem to want some kind of side-by-side POV on occasion

    ahhh, i agree with you there geo3. Romance probably does need both points of view, otherwise it'd be kind of detached...but i reckon you could still do it just as well from one single character's POV.

    You do it by describing the internal thoughts of the character you're working from, and then describing how this character interprets the reactions of the other. There are certain subconscious things: body language, noises, things we say etc... that will give away what a character truly feels.

    But i can definitely understand why a two-point perspective would work in a romantic situation, and why people would prefer this method of storytelling. personal preference, i suppose ;)

    It's also probably true what Darth_Lex said about the effect of film and television. In these media, you can never hear what the characters are thinking. you have to infer it from actions, dialogue and facial expressions. And we seem to manage just fine - and in many cases, it's the unknown element, the idea that you have to interpret what is going on for yourself, that makes for such interesting viewing. Imagine the plot twists you could spring on an unsuspecting reader! and the intense sense of gratification or horror the reader would get if their interpretation turned out to be right or wrong.

    But anyway, long story short, it is certainly a combination of the type of story, the style of the story and the quality of the writing that will make the omniscient perspective successful. Though can i maintain that i really, really dont like switching between perspectives without some kind of indicative device!!!!!! It confuses me :)

    MJS - what would you charge to finish off the rest for me? haha, i'm really flattered that you liked it geo. But you wouldn't want me fooling around with the structure of your story ;)

    You know what, Leia_Naberrie should set a writing challenge concerning this omniscient perspective. Just a thought :)

    Edit: Knight-Ander: no worries :)
     
  17. solojones

    solojones Winner, JCC Word Whiz star 10 VIP - Game Winner

    Registered:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Mjsullivan, it's by Alexander Solzhenitsyn :) It was released in the 60s and was pretty much an eye-opener as to what Soviet life, especially in the Gulags, was like at that time. It's a good book in addition to being very well written.

    [hl=darkgreen]-sj loves kevin spacey[/hl]
     
  18. NarundiJedi

    NarundiJedi Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2001
    I guess I've always tended to lean toward the omniscient style of narrative. I don't think that's changed very much in recent stories because I've got a lot of messed up things going on between the characters. Everybody has an opinion (everybody being the characters) and I don't see anything wrong with switching viewpoints in the middle of a post for some good introspection.

    I was once told that it was wrong for me to change who the "I" was in a first person story I was writing. It switched between two main characters, but which character was doing the talking was pretty obvious from the narrative. I think since it was a comedy they should have left a little more breathing room for a different style. ;)

    Jae Angel
     
  19. Melyanna

    Melyanna Jedi Padawan star 4

    Registered:
    Jul 19, 2001
    I was once told that it was wrong for me to change who the "I" was in a first person story I was writing. It switched between two main characters, but which character was doing the talking was pretty obvious from the narrative. I think since it was a comedy they should have left a little more breathing room for a different style.

    I once suffered through a story (only because it was complete, and I kept hoping it would get better) in which every chapter was from a different character's POV, and in first person. Personally, I think that if you choose to write in first person, it needs to stay with the same person--that's kind of the point--but I'm willing to overlook that. However, I sometimes had to reread the first few paragraphs of a chapter four or five times to figure out who the heck was narrating. And let's just say that of any two characters in this particular fandom (not SW), these two should have been the most distinguishable by voice and style. The author just completely missed the boat on that one.

    So if you're going to do that, make sure the reader isn't confused and frustrated by it. :p

    Mel
     
  20. AERYN_SUN

    AERYN_SUN Jedi Knight star 5

    Registered:
    Apr 1, 2001
    The only time I have shifted between point of views when writing a story, was when I worked on "The Funeral." I use first person in Jag's flashbacks and 3rd person when it was present. I thought it would be easier that way for me and the reader to see the difference in past and present tense in the story.

    You'd know when you were reading past because everything was in Jag's point ov view, and in the present, you'd have to know everything that was going on (besides what was happening with Jag) so it needed to be 3rd person.

    ~aeryn
     
  21. MariahJade2

    MariahJade2 Former Fan Fiction Archive Editor star 5 VIP

    Registered:
    Mar 18, 2001
    I just started a mystery book by one of my favorite authors and she started her prologue with this:

    In the distance, the horse looked white, but nearer, one could see the white was muted, more the color of a winter dawn, a shadowy white, like blue snow. It was barely dawn, the boy's favorite time of day. He loved all of the horses in the stable but this horse in particular.

    The pale horse watched the boy coming toward him, bridle and saddle over his arm, walking through the mist. Not him. What had happened to that jockey who could really ride him? Where were the ribbons, the roses, the shouts and the cheers? Or that girl, for that matter, who handled him better than the boy, her fingers curled on the reins like chrysanthemum petals. If there was one thing the horse knew it was hands-the boy's the trainer's the jockey's the girl's. She must be a filly in disguise; she couldn't be a human girl. For some reason.

    The boy came up to him, patted and smoothed his neck...etc...etc..

    What do you guys think of this perspective switch? It was a surprise, to say the least, to switch to a non-sentient animal. This isn't her usual style either. We get more interjection of the horses thoughts during the short prologue. Do you feel comfortable with a non-human pov?
     
  22. Darth_Tim

    Darth_Tim Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 26, 2002
    James Clavell's Shogun is one of my favorite novels and it uses the omniscient POV.

    In my own writing, I use 3rd limited but especially in action scenes, where there is a lot going on, I cut back and forth between the POV's of several narrators, so it reads like a series of short scenes with several formatting breaks.

    Another really cool idea I used was something I came up with from another fandom from a long time ago and used with my co-writer in Stolen Moments: You'd have a given scene and have the alternate first-person POV's of the two main characters - so it was essentially hearing the same story from two different narrators.

    -Tim
     
  23. NarundiJedi

    NarundiJedi Jedi Master star 6

    Registered:
    Oct 8, 2001
    Oh, I wouldn't attempt it again, Mely. :p It really was a pretty scary piece of writing just with the plot alone, and it wasn't fanfic either. I once read an RL Stine book with the same style (this was in middle school) and it gave me the idea to switch between the guy and the girl every chapter. Since I wasn't a very good writer at age fourteen, I probably screwed it up royally. But if a writer is good they can pull it off, I think.

    Jae Angel
     
  24. Dev_Binks

    Dev_Binks Jedi Knight star 6

    Registered:
    Aug 7, 2003
    I think that people have stopped using the omnipotent view because it's hard to keep everyones views strait, especially when you have a lot of people, I can understand if it's one or two people, but any more than that I'd have to have a pen and paper to keep track of everything. IMO I think that a mixture between a third and first person is the best, by which I mean that when you tell each part of the story from a different persons perspective, but you never use I you say "Blah blah said 'hello everyone.' while whoever was thinking of ways to keep from going insane." Or is that standard third person? Which ever you prefer.
     
  25. leia_naberrie

    leia_naberrie Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Sep 10, 2002
    Yippee! I can so start intelligent discussions! Thanks everyone for replying. Here is another excerpt from something we all must have read at one time or the other...


    Excerpt taken from: The Novelisation of The Empire Strikes Back Chapter Eleven.



    Luke was perfectly calm. Even his present position did not make him feel tense or strained or unsure, or any of the negative things he used to feel when he attempted this feat. He stood, perfectly balanced on one hand. He knew the Force was with him.

    His patient master, Yoda, sat calmly on the soles of Luke?s upturned feet. Luke concentrated serenely on his task and all at once he lifted four fingers off the ground. His balance undisturbed, he held his upside-down position - on one thumb.

    Luke?s determination had made him a quick study. He was eager to learn and was undaunted by the tests Yoda had devised for him. And now he felt confident when he finally left this planet, it would be as a full-fledged Jedi Knight prepared to fight only for the noblest of causes.

    Luke was rapidly growing stronger with the Force and indeed, was accomplishing miracles. Yoda grew more pleased with his apprentice?s progress. Once, while Yoda stood watching nearby, Luke used the Force to lift two large equipment cases and suspend them in midair. Yoda was pleased, but noticed Artoo-Detoo observing this apparent impossibility and emitting electronic beeps of disbelief. The Jedi Master raised his hand and, with the Force, lifted the little droid off the ground.

    Artoo hovered, his baffled internal circuits and sensors trying to detect the unseen power that held him suspended in the air. And suddenly the invisible hand played still another joke on him: While hanging in midair, the little robot was abruptly turned upside down. His white legs kicked desperately and his dome head spun helplessly around. When Yoda finally lowered his hand, the droid, along with the two supply cases, began to drop. But only the boxes smashed against the ground. Artoo remained suspended in space.
    Turning his head, Artoo perceived his young master, standing with hand extended, preventing Artoo from a fatal tumble.

    Yoda shook his head, impressed by his student?s quick thinking and by his control.

    Yoda sprang onto Luke?s arm and the two of them turned back toward the house. But they had forgotten something: Artoo-Detoo was still hanging in the air, beeping and whistling frantically, trying to get their attention. Yoda was merely playing another joke on the fretful droid, and as Yoda and Luke strolled away, Artoo heard the Jedi Mater?s bell-like laugh floating in gay peals behind him as the droid was slowly lowered to the ground.




    -------------------
    It goes from Luke's PoV to Yoda's to Artoo's. One scene. Three different perspectives.


     
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