Re: On the topic of third person narrators

#22
Anyway, I can't disagree with the first post. But to me, it's just people are doing practical things, it can be bad or good. They can do what they want to engage their readers. But I suggest they must read first the effective of POVs. About, show don't tell, not everyone has the same way of interpreting show don't tell. Immerse me with your awesome narration, and I can also feel the show don't tell there. If your voice isn't effective much, then just the word "balance" to what they can find pleasing and do not forget the word, "entertainment". Everyone's great asset is figure of speech.

I'm not actually fun reading descriptions that would longer word count to read, I do quit. Sometimes, I was too immersed by and infatuated to, the summaries instead of the actual story.

KaapstadMK Wrote: What's your opinion on omniscient vs non-omniscient 3rd person narrators? (i.e. knowing the characters' internal thoughts vs not)

I know it can be trickier, doing a non-omniscient style. I just wanted to hear your thoughts on using it.


Just put rules to your narration -- What you want to narrate and what you don't want. 
Is that Third-person focus to one character? or Third-person focus to one character, with the characteristic of First-person omniscient -- like jumping to character-pov to another character-pov? I think you can find guide in google search engine that you can use. 

Remember, your narration is my guide to reading your story.

Re: On the topic of third person narrators

#24

OPoldman Wrote: Seeing as we are all amateurs here, a few blunders here and there concerning a text's structure is acceptable - however, when the rules of narration are ignored by so many authors, many fledgling writers might believe it's tolerable to break the rules themselves!

Rant start!


Let's begin with my favorite type of narrator - the third person narrator.

A third person narrator is NOT a character. A third person narrator is NOT the author. A third person narrator is NOT a person at all!

Now, if the third person narrator is not...a being, then what is it?

A third person observer, in the traditional meaning, is a combination of senses - it has no thought, no opinion, no NOTHING! Its only purpose is to relay the events unfolding in the story's universe to the reader. It can read minds, read lips, see and accurately describe a leaf blowing in the wind, hear a coin drop on a bathroom floor halfway across the galaxy  - but what does it do with all this information?

What does it think of all this?

...

ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING!

I keep seeing, time and time again, third person narrators who make metaphors, crack jokes, express their disapproval, etc...

NO NO NO!

Here's a typical example of the reincarnation fictions on this website:

Quote: Carnation-chan looked up at her stubby fingers.

"Goddamit, I've been reincarnated as a human again," she groaned, "a human infant too...damned gods won't let me take over a body..."

Of course Carnation-chan was mad, after all, nobody would want to be stuck as a baby.


NO NO NO NO NO! Who is this person telling us that being reincarnated as a baby is bad? Why does he/she have this opinion? What if I, as a reader, think that being reincarnated as a baby, especially a human baby, is a good thing? Why does the book tell me it's bad?

See, the use of a third person narrator implies absolutes - it is the book itself. Its words are truth, unless it chooses to hide them. A third person narrator can conceal, but never lie.

Quote:The girl was very pretty. Like a black jewel in a desert of grey


The above is poorly written, but I assure you I've seen worse. And often. What does this third person know about pretty? What is pretty? What if the reader doesn't think she's pretty? Tell me what she looks like, and I'll decide on my own if she's pretty or not. And what if I don't think she looks like a jewel? What would YOU know anyways, mister third person narrator? I don't know who you are, what you're thinking or what you've experienced. Don't tell me what to think, just show me, and I shall conclude what I will on my own.

Show, do not tell.

By giving your third person narrator an opinion, you are forcing additional absolutes onto your reader. Am I to believe that every single person in the story's universe is adamantly against being reincarnated as a baby? Who are you to tell me what I should think. "Of course"? Was I supposed to instinctively know that being a baby is bad? And who the hell are you, to force an opinion on me?

An opinion automatically implies that the speaker is a character or a person that has a past, experience, and thoughts on which to base that opinion - however, characters and people are not perfect. Their view of the world is subjective. When an apparently omniscient god-like figure, such as the third person narrator, starts giving out subjective statements, the story loses credibility.

If, as an author, you want to express your own opinion, do it through your characters, not your narrator.

Obviously, rules are made to be broken. Opinions can definitely be inserted in a third person narrator - but it has to be executed properly. With tact.

Adverbs are a good example of adding opinion to your story without impeding on the reader's experience.

Quote:The blacksmith stubbornly hammered away at the ingot, slowly shaping it into the blade of a dagger. His muscles, glistening with sweat, bulged as he lifted the hammer high above his head and brought it back down upon the molten metal.


Does the third person narrator actually know what stubborn hammering looks like? Of course not. Does the reader know? Probably. Does it impede upon the reader's image of the story? Not at all. That being said, adverbs disturb the flow of your text if used too frequently, and should be avoided whenever possible.

*  *  *  *  *


Now, for the first person narrator

Ultimately, since the first person narrator is YOUR character, you're allowed infinite freedom! Hell, you can even make typos throughout the whole story (though I wouldn't suggest it). Why? Because your character is imperfect. He is telling the reader his thoughts and observations. Maybe he really believes that word is written that way. Maybe he's retarded. Maybe he's dyslexic.

Quote:I'm watching Mary by my window. Mary is a girl I like. She's walking down the street right now. She sure looks pretty in her frilly dress... My birdy itches sometimes when I see her. Its weird. Daddy said not too worry though, so I'm not worried.


Is the above well written? Maybe not. Is it well and deeply thought out? Not at all. Does it accurately reflect my character's thoughts and feelings? Hell yeah, and that's what's important in a first person narrator. Opinions can be voiced however you want them to be - or rather, however your character makes of them.

However, when writing in the first person, it is important to remember who your character is. He is not an idle observer, content to simply relay information. No, he is an integral part of your story - he has feelings, emotions. Maybe he voices his thoughts in a particular fashion. Maybe during intense combat sequences, he is intense and focused, yet during his normal day to day life, he can only think about boobs.

Another thing to think about is the consistence of your character. A character does not change his/her attitude without something happening. It doesn't have to be big, but there has to be something. This is important to remember, especially when we consider that we are amateur writers, and our writing style changes over time. Even if your style changes, your character must not.

As a first person narrator, you have the freedom to make metaphors and comparisons. I believe this is one of the most important benefits of first person narration. It really adds another dimension to your writing.

Quote:It was, I thought idly, the most polite punch I'd ever seen. It was the careful blow of a skilled carpenter pounding a nail: hard enough to drive it home, yet not so hard as to bruise the wood around it.


Quote:I could not indulge in some their casual funtime hankypanky - not when a more serious prospect was peeking from around the corner


A first person narrator can project an image, can offer an alternate explanation, can humor the reader - something a third person narrator cannot do.

*  *  *  *  *


/rant_end


TL;DR - use your fucking narrators properly.



"Shit, being an infant really sucked" I don't see a problem with giving the narrator a bit of personality, you go from a cold, synthetic reading to, for example a sarcastic / picky / lazy / whatever narrator.

I don't think it fits every story, but there is a time and place for it.

Re: On the topic of third person narrators

#25
So much junk in this thread I'm falling asleep just from reading it.

At least the third to last and last poster got it right.

TP limited pretty much infers that the narration is experienced by the POV.


Let's get this straight: There's no major difference between TP limited and FP. There is, however, a huge difference between TP omni and OP when contrasted with TP limited / FP. TP omni and OP introduces a narrator distinct from the characters; basically the implied author. The idea of a disembodied TP narrator requires TP omni or OP.

Notably a story primarily written in TP limited as well as FP could very well use a 'panning out' -effect when the narrator becomes distinct from the POV. The stereotype is 'little did he/she/I know how funny crap would bite him/her/me in the arse later'. Even in the case of FP we're dealing with an older version of me, myself and I who's no longer the main narrator of the story. You could argue that the narration goes from a limited PoV to an omni one.

MA comp lit venting his gripes here.

Re: On the topic of third person narrators

#26
Probably, POV is the least understood and most home-wrecked concept in the convention set of new novelists. There are several sub-types of Third POV, A couple of different approaches to using First POV, and the black sheep of Second POV.

All of them simply state who it is that narrates the novel. The Authors voice? (Third) A character within the story? (First) or a ghost walking about behind a character telling him what he is doing (Second).  There is no particularly good reason for changing out a book's storyteller (narrator). That's like running a campfire round robin where one after another, different campers take up the telling of a impromptu story. There is an additional POV some literati add these days, called  Mixed POV. However mixing POV is almost always jarring, like mixing tense.  It usually speaks about an author who has painted himself into a corner, or failed to plot ahead well enough, and is to lazy to rewrite.

First POV can still be used in plots where one player (protagonist / Antagonist) cannot appropriately narrate the whole story, by using Multiple first, alternating chapters or whole plot divisions from behind two player's eyes who don't occupy the same position. (Character narration)

Third POV writers can move from following one character to following another at will, narrating everything, and is the common choice for complex plots. There is close third, omniscient third, A lot of ways the narrative voice can show from the authors vantage point, the entire flow of the story. Third POV has nothing to do with what manikin in the story the author is manipulating. In third the author can move from  following one character to following another at liberty from that single Third person perspective. Doing so is not considered changing POV, just following another character within it.

It has nothing to do with adverb or adjective use. Characters express themselves in dialog (quotation marked or marked by italics) and can say any damn thing they want in the book, hopefully using enough common grammar to be understood. Dialog is not dependent on POV. Characters chatter on in dialog regardless who the story teller is.

Lastly. POV is a convention of the novel, not a rule.  Conventions can be broken, and often are, but usually by people who are knowledgeable, and know how to get around the problems the convention is set to overcome. It also does not have anything to do with addressing the audience directly, and expressing an opinion which is called breaking the forth wall. However, breaking the forth wall is an antique mode held over from shakespearian plays and is seldom used.  The series  "Pushing Daises" used it successfully in its short run. Roger Zelazny wrote almost exclusively in first person, and did indeed incorporate editor baiting passages that seemed insider annoyances, like one sentence in "The Changing Lands" that ran on for an entire page. As a note for beginners, as with most crafts, it is usually wise to learn the basics first, then develop independent or idiosyncratic ways around conventions later. First you crawl, then walk, then run. Saves a lot of broken necks and wasted time.

Re: On the topic of third person narrators

#29
It is the author's tone. It is more Mao Zedong's Little Red Book than John Gardner's The Art of Fiction.


Quote:A third person observer, in the traditional meaning, is a combination of senses - it has no thought, no opinion, no NOTHING! Its only purpose is to relay the events unfolding in the story's universe to the reader. It can read minds, read lips, see and accurately describe a leaf blowing in the wind, hear a coin drop on a bathroom floor halfway across the galaxy  - but what does it do with all this information?

What does it think of all this?

...

ABSOLUTELY FUCKING NOTHING!

I keep seeing, time and time again, third-person narrators who make metaphors, crack jokes, express their disapproval, etc...

NO NO NO!



I have a problem with this as it is likely to stifle the creativity of any young writer who doesn't have the life experience or who has not been taught to use their critical intelligence to take this advice with anything but a grain of salt. 
It is such a bad piece of advice, I can think of at least one genre of literature that would not exist if it was universally implemented (the conceit of John Donne's era).

I tried coming up with at least one author who applies this as a rule to their fiction. Post early sixties Phillip K Dick, perhaps, but he suffered from a disassociative personality mental disorder so it came naturally.
I don't really read him for his stylistic innovation. I do read Roger Zelazny and Milan Kundera for theirs, and the advice of the above essay does not apply to their work, in the least.
Would their work be better if they did follow it? When I recall the lush beautiful flourish RZ wrote The Lord of Light and melancholy lyricism of The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Definitely not. 
The only advice worth following are those that enhance your creativity, or helps you communicate better and more effectively with your audience. Everything else is rubbish.

Re: On the topic of third person narrators

#30
Third Person narration is not personified narration. That is, the narrator (storyteller) is not a member of the cast, or a named person in the book. However, it is disingenuous to say the descriptions of the environment, people and all movement detailed in a novel are not the authors. Also, some novels provide the narrator with a definite personality, perhaps typified by an acerbic wit, or turn of phrasing for description, or even a blush of opinion to guide the readers perception.  Without due care, this can turn narration into a type of concordance, which is seldom used or appreciated and interferes with the flow of the story itself. It goes without saying that a story, like a play, should tell itself. A storyteller in Third exists outside of the story told. 

There are three root ways to tell a story. One is third, as above. The others are second person, which really is an abuse of a commercial frame, meant to guide instruction manual users  (You hold the rope firmly, being certain neither your feet or any loose objects are below the mower deck, then start the motor with a firm quick draw on the rope.)  This is occasionally tried in text adventure games, or occasional Halloween skits, (You walk into the room. There are doors leading east, north and west. You open the door to the west.)  Very few attempt to fit the technique to novels, as it is ungainly and remote when used for that purpose. The last type is First POV, where some nominated character in the story describes the scenery, peoples movements, and so on, usually to increase a sense of personal identification with that character.  Generally, the type of narration does not change within the story.  In third, there is no reason for the narrator to walk out of the room and leave finishing the book to someone else. This is just disturbing, and in third, the narrator can already move character FOCUS from one to another, or from one place to another, so is bootless to do.
In second the constant You You You thing gets tiring and old in anything but short works quite quickly, and is not very expressive. As the ghost like commentator is fairly localized, it suffers much of the same problems as writing in first, just duller.  In First, some works, that require a view from different locations, may need a Multiple First  perspective, that is, see the story through yet another pair of character eyes.  Generally this is done so that each  "Viewing" character has his own chapter or sections, so that the reader does not confuse one Characters sight with the other's. 

Third omniecent:
Nothing wrong with writing in that POV, currently, it is not as popular, while Close Third POV is on the rise, but I tend to see this as story and style dependent, myself.

Re: On the topic of third person narrators

#34

Quote:It goes without saying that a story, like a play, should tell itself. A storyteller in Third exists outside of the story told. 



That itself is not even universal, but an aesthetic preference of the Chekhov school.
A Midsummer Night's Dream before that era, Our Town, after, are notable in how they advance their narratives through breaking that fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience.
Easier to get away with, perhaps, in comedies, but even in tragedies where it is necessarily more immersive and the action is on-flowing you'll find the break into third party narrative well deployed. 
The end of Romeo and Juliet where their parents shout directly to the audience and make fools of themselves helps underline the sweetly romantic nihilism of what occurred before.

Young screenwriters are often given the advice not to filter the narrative through narrators given the visual nature of the medium, but the successful exceptions to this rule like Goodfellas, Shawshank Redemption, and The Secret to My Success, underscore that it is not an aesthetic poor choice in itself (Bladerunner is the only movie I can think of that was the worse for it*), it is merely a tool of the craft.

* Harrison Ford's character on the screen is enigmatic. The one doing the voice over is an idiot with a sloppily, mediocre mind. If these characters were better synced, it could have worked.

Re: On the topic of third person narrators

#35
I got maybe two paragraphs into this rant before laughing. I'm sorry, but you CAN do a 3rd person narrator that makes commentary. Many successful authors do it, as a few people have pointed out. This is no breach of etiquette or some unwritten writer's law, it's a matter of taste. Many, many, many, many classic authors use the narrator as a tool to drive home some aspect about the characters through a metanarrative commentary. The number of stories I've read where the narrator is a sarcastic asshole to get across the point you aren't supposed to find the protagonist charming numbers in the dozens, and they're all taught in college-level courses about good writing. It's just that doing them is tricky, and telling people who, as you admit yourself, make mistakes, to stop practicing is a little bit of a "shame on you" moment.

Re: On the topic of third person narrators

#36
"That itself is not even universal, but an aesthetic preference of the Chekhov school.
A Midsummer Night's Dream before that era, Our Town, after, are notable in how they advance their narratives through breaking that fourth wall and speaking directly to the audience.
Easier to get away with, perhaps, in comedies, but even in tragedies where it is necessarily more immersive and the action is on-flowing you'll find the break into third party narrative well deployed. 
The end of Romeo and Juliet where their parents shout directly to the audience and make fools of themselves helps underline the sweetly romantic nihilism of what occurred before."


First, those are plays, not novels. The novel is an18th century invention.  Second, Breaking the fourth wall can be done in any POV. It's simply concordance. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Third I'm talking about the common POV Novel conventions, which are, er, conventions, not rules. People do all sorts of stuff. Sometimes even successfully.