Where Ladybugs Roar

Confessions and Passions of a Compulsive Writer

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Scary Things Like Narration

So, while it's All Hallows Eve... it's also NaNoWriMo Eve, and I need to decide on a narration style.

I've settled on a topic and an audience (YA) so now it's on to deciding what type of narration I'll use.

First-- Point of View

It's natural, of course, to go with First Person narration first while listing things... so I will. Writing from the point of view of a character has it's merits. I think it's deeper and allows a more sincere connection. Also, it seems like YA books are more commonly written in this style. The quirk of First Person is that it will be biased and you'll "miss" aspects of the story just as your character does. I like the idea of writing in the First Person, and I think I'll probably go with that.

Second Person is rarely employed through the entirety of a novel--which makes it a bit of a challenge and usually I can't resist a challenge, but it's an even number, and we know how I feel about those. Second person is a scenario when the generic first person "you" is used to address a character and would be the form of Self-help books.

Third Person allows the narrator to step outside of the characters while occasionally relating their thoughts from an omniscient point of view. Third person is easier for relating what is actually happening... and creating a landscape with broader strokes. You can be brutally objective of what is going on. I've heard that Third Person is easier, but it's more difficult for me. It's easier for me to be biased and be inside someone's head.

There is also the option of Multiple Person narrative where I can use more than one first person character's viewpoint. I've done this before and switched at chapters to relate the story. I did this in the manuscript "Parallel Lives." It was fun, actually. In Third Person, I usually go from the "overall" Point of View of one character to the other. I don't stay objective very well.

Then, there is alternating Point of View. The narration would alternate between First and Third Person and while I've never done this--I really like the idea of it. This can include epistolary narration which uses letters or other written narration intermixed with a story told in Third Person. Some of the classics do this and do it well. Dracula... for example.

Okay, so... that's Point of View, but wait... that's not all of narration.

Just because you've established who will tell the story... you still have the how.

What tense will it be in?

Past tense is nice and easy. I think most novels use past tense. I think you lose a little if you write everything in present tense. I'm not entirely sure how you'd write in future tense. So, that is, at least, an easy decision for me. I've written portions in present tense (specifically dreams) and that seems "right."

Okay. Phew. Tense is done.

Wait... there's more. What about our narrative voice? That's important.

I already mentioned epistolary narration where diary entries or letters or emails are used. The book "Boy Next Door" by Meg Cabot uses entirely emails or other online correspondence to tell the story and it's hilarious and full of awesome for that.

There is also the unreliable narrator where you establish that the narrator has some reason for not giving a rational or reliable account of the story. Perhaps your narrator has extreme bias, is insane, or terrified.... Perhaps the narrator doubts their version of events because it seems too unbelievable. The age or experience of the narrator might cause an unreliable narration. If the narrator is young or naive, you'll get a doubtful narration that may even result in a satiric exposition in regards to your audience. In my Honor books, Honor has clearly flawed logic and a bias toward violence that makes her a bit unreliable as far as exposition goes. I think most First Person narration should occasionally seem unreliable. A completely rational First Person account seems flawed in itself--the cardboard cut-out version of a person.

Stream-of-consciousness is clearly my method of blogging and sometimes I'm even bordering on "shiny penny" levels of consciousness where I'm so easily distracted that.... Oh look! Something shiny! Wow. I like shiny things.

What was I saying? Oh...

So... the narration for Third Person voice varies too. Subjective... Objective... Omniscient. I tend to use Third Person Subjective. I just can't be Objective. I try, but I fail. I manage it in short stories... yay for me. Most of the classic works employing Omniscient just don't "work" for me. Pride and Prejudice being my most recent failure to get "into." It seems too detached for me, so it would be extremely unlike me to use this--especially in a YA book. However the modern version of "A Series of Unfortunate Events" is a brilliant use for Omniscient. Lemony Snicket is just awesome on a stick.

I guess that covers the gist of narration, but I still have to pick. Too many choices and less than twenty-four hours to pick.

Anyone else decided on this already?

As far as Halloween goes... as well as shiny things... The daughter will be a Candy Corn witch. The son will be a fighter pilot. We have a chili cook-off and a Trunk-or-Treat party tonight to attend. It should be fun. We have a lot to do to get ready--our trunk is currently scary in a whole different way.

I don't have a fever anymore--nor does the idea of moving make me want to hurl. I had some NASTY vertigo yesterday. We visited the husband's work for trick-or-treating yesterday. He works in downtown Seattle. The higher floors of his building were making me break out in cold sweats. It was awful. I swear it was like the whole building was swaying back and forth. Today, I'm still a little shaky. I don't know if I've mentioned this but I have nightmares every night due to one of my meds attempts to regulate my hormones. I started today off with a really significant nightmare of being raped in the dark while under the influence of something that made me so I couldn't move my limbs. I'm still a little shaky due to the remnants of it. Most of my nightmares are less intense, but sometimes I have a few nights in a row with really intense nightmares and it causes a stretch of severe insomnia because I'm afraid to go to sleep. My sickness has meant that I'm actually getting this weird things called "eight hours of sleep" but less sleep usually means less intense nightmares, so it'll be nice to get over this sickness.

I should eat some breakfast now that it is nearly eleven a.m.

Yay. It's Halloween.



  1. I personally prefer first person, but I also enjoy third person (HP) where it is sort of like first person, but now written that way, so we see little snippets of the story from other POV's. I also like the way J.R. Ward writes. Third person POV, and she jumps around from character to character.

  2. I prefer third person. Especially if I'm reading it out loud. It feels too personal in the first person. The novel I'm writing right now is 3rd person and it changes POV sometimes. I'm not sure if that's a good thing yet - I'll decide later. The book I want to write after this will be in first person and it makes me nervous.
    I can't believe the horrible dreams you have. How awful. I hate nightmares so much I trained myself to wake up if I don't like them or change what is happening. I would hate not having the control.

  3. I've written in both first person and deep third person. I prefer deep third (just like first person in the sense that you only can "see" what the character can see.) But this also gives you the leeway to use another character's POV as well. That method is used in romance all the time. I'm not crazy about books that mix first and third, I find it a little jarring. Good luck on deciding!

  4. I'm using third person - not a fan of first person, but there are times when that's the way a character "speaks" to me, so I just follow them. Luckily, the one for NaNoWriMo this year wants third, which makes me happy! LOL