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Battalon127

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Jun 22, 2007 16:05
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  That was one of the intentions of this board, was it not? A place for authors to get together and help each other out?
  Here's my question: Say I'm writing a story as a first-person narrative, but I want to shift the focus away from my main character for a while. Are there any good ways of doing this, without crappiness that generally goes along with changing the perspective? Going from "The dust swirled up from the ground with every step I took, further clouding my already alcohol-blurred vision" in Chapter 1 to "James sat at the bar and nursed his fourth beer of the night, moodily reflecting on the irony of being so depressed he didn't even care to get drunk" in Chapter 3 is just plain sloppy writing, but I don't know how else to give someone else the spotlight for a while. Any suggestions, ideas? Is anyone even here?
  
If you don't like someone, why bother pissing them off to begin with? Just go for the kill. ~Cheetarius
MintMan

Posts: 4043
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Jun 22, 2007 17:03
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  Yes, writing advice is the purpose of this forum. Lots of advice is the purpose of the RE forums in general. Remember when people asked for coding advice? Back when independent webmasters existed? Fat chance if anyone does that anymore! As for writing, most blokes just fly by the seat of their pants, and anyone who doesn't like it must suck hard!
  
  
  Good on you for asking 'bout this, tho'. First person narratives are a horror. So few people ever do 'em right. Most stories should just plain never be told in this way. You gotta have a really good reason to go through this much trouble and the repetitive and repetitive stream of I's.
  
  Since you are, tho', I shall assume you have a good reason to. I would toss out two options for consideration:
  
  1) Keep that chapter in first person, but reveal after a paragraph or so that the perspective has changed to another narrator. You could probably create a pretty cool effect with this.
  
  2) Set it up so that the original narrator is either thinking about the person, place, or situation the next chapter centers on, or just have him around it. As the description changes from "I did, I saw, I something'd" to more general views, such as descriptions of observations of whatever is around, the voice would suddenly shift to a third person, and said person would suddenly become omniscient. Later, third-person and first-person can have a rendevous, at which point first devours third's soul, never to be seen again.
  
  
  Hard to say for sure without intimite knowledge of how the story flows.
  
"And when I wake up in the morning
  "To feel the daybreak on my face,
  "There's a blood that's flowin' through the ceiling
  "With a knife to open up the sky's vein." ~ Backwater, Meat Puppets

MadGoblin

Posts: 1509
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Jun 22, 2007 17:06
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  Short answer: No, I don't believe so.
  
  First person is first person since its suppose to all be about said first person. No one else really matters in these stories. If someone else has focus, with a 1st-P, generally they are focused on through the lens of that 1st person, which really gets drawn out and annoying from all the interpretation and junk.
  
  Now, there are ways to work around this. Some stories have the view of a different character for each chapter, which can be entertaining.
  
  The other way is to write in third person all the time. Which, generally, is the recommendation I would propose Slanted Mouth
  
"Bye bye, head!"
  -JBL, Commentary God
Battalon127

Posts: 753
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Jun 22, 2007 18:09
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  Well, the piece I'm working on is a personal recounting, told from the perspective of the main character, so I'd like to keep it in first person. I think I'll try playing around with switching the narrative source, but if I can't pull it off, I'll probably just scrap the idea. Any more tips you have for writing a proper first person narrative would be appreciated as well.
  
(I'm just) following the stream. As if it were the friggin' Yellow Brick Road. ~Hana Gitelman, Heroes
Blade

Posts: 362
Member #99

Jun 25, 2007 19:57
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  Any tips on adding speech to a story?
  (eg how to follow them and how to include them properly)
  
Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go
  To heal my heart and drown my woe.
  Rain may fall and wind may blow.
  And many miles be still to go.
  But under a tree I will lie,
  And watch the clouds go sailing by.
  -Drinking song
  
  [Edited by Blade on Jun 25, 2007 20:07]
MadGoblin

Posts: 1509
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Jun 25, 2007 22:36
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  A lot of this comes standard in English class, but there are some points I'd like to reiterate as they commonly pop up:
  

      
  • When someone starts to speak, that sentence is a new paragraph. As long as they keep it up, it generally stays one.
      
  • Talking should go like, "Words are coming out of my mouth." Additionally, "Don't put a period at my end," says sentence-with-direct-quote-but-words-following.
      
  • "You should still but the bang!" it adds furiously.
      
  • Different characters generally have somewhat individualized ways of speaking, whether it is pronunciations or different vocabularies.
      
  • Not everything needs said. For brief, uninteresting statements, an indirect quote or dodge around without resorting to quotation mark usage can due. It does get a little hard to identify these possibilities, tho'.
      

  
  Well, I'm sure I missed some and screwed up what I did list.
  
"I love you."
  "Are you talking to me or the pancakes?"
  "Why can't it be both?"
  -Bill & Judy Miller, Still Standing
Battalon127

Posts: 753
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Jun 26, 2007 10:02
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  I sometimes fail to follow this one myself, but don't go overboard with creative speech tags (like 'pontificated' or 'ruminated') as they can be distracting. Tags that qualify the speech are a bit better (like 'muttered' or 'screeched') so long as they fit in context and you still don't use them too often. And definitely, by all means, avoid using non-speech-related verbs as tags. (ie- "That's a great idea," she smiled). Unless she's a ventriloquist, she can't 'smile' the words. This one can be easy to do by accident.
  
  If you have an exchange between two people that keeps going back and forth, drop the tags altogether, once the speaking rhythm has been established.
  
  Try to avoid really long speeches, as readers tend to get bored with them. If you're going to go off on a long story or something, make it into more of a narrative-style thing and make it evident to the reader that Person X is the one telling telling it.
  
  In that same vein, break up longer strings of talking with a little action. For instance- "I can't believe you'd do that to me, after everything we've been through! I could have totally scored with your sister last weekend, but I passed because I thought we were friends!" John clarified this point by chucking a piece of a carburetor at Luis's head. "But apparently, I was mistaken. Here I get home and find you in bed with my mom? I mean, what the hell? Those are just jokes, dude. You aren't supposed to actually DO them."
  
  And I have one question for Gobbo- what the hell is "but the bang?"
  
Get Firefox 2.0 and never have an excuse for misspelling things again.
MintMan

Posts: 4043
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Jun 26, 2007 10:32
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  I think he meant "put the bang", "bang" being the short name for an exclaimation point.
  
  I have to disagree with Batt; I like using non-speech words to represent speech, but only very rarely. It helps keep speech-verbs fresh, but overuse will be confusing. It is a good thing to put in a place where the verb is nearly meaningless to the context of the line.
  The example of "smile" stands; if you can express whatever action through an adverb or adjective ("she happily/slyly stated") then do that instead. Only if you want to express multiple ideas in a single clause should this measure be taken.
  
  Also, people should speak like people. I've noticed that a lot of blokes on RE have been overusing the colloquialisms, but this isn't about that. People don't speak in big words; people don't speak with high description. If it is the way you write, it isn' the way someone speaks. The way you describe a scene will never be how a character describes a scene.
  
  This is one of the reasons narratives are almost always crap. Technically, a first person narrative is just a person's retelling (or telling for present tense) of an event; any heavy description is technically horrible! It should read like storytelling, like folklore; not a masterwork or a novel.
  
  Among these caveats is not using some kenning or alternate title as a noun of address. In RoR, no character would ever refer to Kodiro as the "wizard of wares" or "summoner of style"; they would simply call him "Kodiro" or "idiot". (Note that NWG is an exception as he is supposed to speak as an omniscient third person -- everything has exceptions!)
  
  Also, when only a few individuals say a lot in between a lot of action, try to keep the non-speech and body language up between quotes. This helps keep the reader from being absorbed into the talking when it is really secondary to the surrounding action and events.
Blade

Posts: 362
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Jun 27, 2007 5:49
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  So you break the speech with words? ala:

  "You have ten hours to get me the gold" Female Y turned, and strode out of the room. "What the hel do we do now?" Male X looked to Male XY "We, do nothing. I have a plan" he turned back to the computer screen and began typing furiously.

  sort of thing?
  
Troilism
MintMan

Posts: 4043
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Jun 27, 2007 8:07
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  No, not at all.
  
  1) I have no clue who was saying any of what you just wrote.
  2) You did not use puncuation at the end of several of your quotes or non-quoted clauses.
  3) You did not break up your sentences on different lines or into sentences, which may or may not have been required. It is difficult to tell as I have no idea what the Hel was going on there.
  
  I am going to guess it should have gone like this... correct me if I'm wrong.
  
   "You have ten hours to get me the gold PERIOD" Female Y turned NO COMMA FOR THE SAME SUBJECT OF TWO ACTIONS and strode out of the room. LINE BREAK
   "What the Hel CAPITALIZE PROPER NOUNS do we do now?" Male X looked to Male XY PERIOD AND LINE BREAK FOR NEW SPEAKER
   "We NO COMMA WHY WOULD THERE BE A COMMA? MAYBE AN ELLIPSIS do nothing. I have a plan PERIOD" He turned back to the computer screen and began typing furiously.

  
  This is one of those places, especially with multiple speakers and a necessity to know who is speaking at which time, that you want a definate speech verb for everyone, not something like "turned". Saying "turned" implies that some non-speaker is looking at the speaker; it is hard to tell since you did not puncuate correctly.
  
  Didn't you read Gobbo's li'l grammar school?
  
"I'm so happy 'cause today I found my friends.
  "They're in my head.
  "I'm so ugly, but that's okay 'cause so are you.
  "Broke our mirrors." ~ Lithium, Nirvana

Blade

Posts: 362
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Jun 27, 2007 22:21
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  Well, y'see I did have a decently punctuated, and formulated paragraph, but I was at home and my internet dropped out and I happened to lose that paragraph and I was then at a loss to remember what I had typed. But whatever.. meee typins aint likes mee thinkins..ahh hyuck!
  
  
  "You have ten hours to get me the gold." Female Y turned and strode out of the room.
  "What the Hel do we do now?" Male X looked to Male XY.
  "We do nothing. I have a plan." He turned back to the computer screen and began typing furiously.

  
  so how would you perpetuate a slight pause after we? or would you write somewhat like "We" Male XY turned and sat back down at the computer "Do nothing. I have a plan."
  
Troilism
  
  [Edited by Blade on Jun 28, 2007 5:53]
Battalon127

Posts: 753
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Jun 28, 2007 9:17
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  Ellipses (as MintMan mentioned in his post right above you) would be a lot better. "We... do nothing." If you were to use your method I would recommend this: "We..." Male XY turned and sat back down at the computer, "do nothing. I have have a plan." Note the comma use. The second half of his spoken sentence would need to remain a whole sentence. Despite the action in-between constituting a complete sentence on it's own, it's really just filler for the quotation. That said, I don't like it. With ellipses, it breaks the sentence up too much, giving a sense of a far longer pause than I think you intended. With a comma, it doesn't seem to convey a pause at all; it's just a really weirdly placed break in the action.
  
The following post may contain strong language, graphic violence, and brief scenes of nudity. Viewer discretion is advised.
Blade

Posts: 362
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Jun 28, 2007 9:21
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  yeah ellipses arent hugely what I was looking for (not that I knew what one was before Mints said it) ...
  
Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go
  To heal my heart and drown my woe.
  Rain may fall and wind may blow.
  And many miles be still to go.
  But under a tree I will lie,
  And watch the clouds go sailing by.
  -Drinking song
MintMan

Posts: 4043
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Jun 28, 2007 9:39
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  Actually, don't listen to Batt. His example was grammatically flawed.
  
  Direct quotes are nothing more than the direct objects of a speech verb. For example:
  
  He said something.
  He said "Something!"
  "Something," he said, "is my object."

  
  You can only break up the direct quote if it is still the direct object of something.
  
  Moreover, the comma usage is entire incorrect. You can only use a comma lead-in if continuing the quote from before. What you have is a complete break with the ellipsis. Something like:
  
  "We," Male XY turned and sat back down at the computer, "do nothing..."
  
  would fit better. Instead of the ellipsis to represent a pause, the physical separation serves to this end. However, since there is no speech verb in the entire example (and as I pointed out, this is really the sort of place you want one), I would still even recommend against this. If the entire "Male XY" clause was independent from the speech (which it really should be), it could not separate the quote at all!
  
  
  Boggle Holy crap! I never realized how intricate speech was! * plants a virtual Talkin tree * Those supposed writing guides I was gonna make just got exploded in size from this li'l post...
Sword
Battalon127

Posts: 753
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Jun 28, 2007 13:26
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  I'm flawed... Frown
  Actually, I was considering between the ellipses and comma. Looks like I chose poorly. And while I didn't realize it was actually against the rules, I did note that I disliked it. It doesn't sound right, which is pretty much what I base good/bad grammar on (my instincts are usually pretty good when it comes to English). It's good to know My advice was the ellipses. If that's not what you were looking for, Blade, could you describe what you're after a bit more intricately?
  
  Also, it's a little ironic, Blade, that in this whole discussion about proper grammar usage, you aren't even putting in the basic sentence structure rules that we rag on everyone about regardless.
  
  Looking forward to the writing guides, since I prefer to look things up for myself rather than ask.
  
When I was in the 6th grade I was a finalist in our school spelling bee. It was me against Raj Patel. I misspelled, in front of the entire school, the word "failure". ~Dwight Schrute, The Office
MadGoblin

Posts: 1509
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Jun 28, 2007 19:38
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  Yaaay! Poor grammar!
  
  Don't feel bad or even a thing 'bout it, tho'. It's a known fact: those worst at speakin' the English language are those who know it as a first language.
  
  Seriously. In an English speaking country, you really only get the basics of what is to be known, and really don't even pay attention to that much, on average. I believe the prime example is with a foreign exchange student at my high school way back in the day:
  
  
"You draw well." <- Correct.
  "You draw good, too." <- No right and, of course, said by the 'Merican.

  
  Oh, you! Universal you, that is. * brings forth a flaw on Battalon127 and the whole stickin' population under the Crown *
  
"Wings are for when you're drunk. Soup is for when you're sick."
  "That's what my mom used to say. Boy, she loved her wings!"
  - Margaret & Jake, Stark Raving Mad
Sword
Blade

Posts: 362
Member #99

Jul 3, 2007 8:05
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  I see what you mean. I suppose it doesn't help that Australians (I don't know about others) have a penchant for shortening words, heck with the advent of '1337speak' English as a proper language is on its way down. Though the sub categories of english seem to be prospering somewhat.
  Maybe everyone could speak the old medieval style of speakin' eg: "I dinna ken yon 1337speak ye' scurvy varmints"
  ...then again my interpretation of old english is almost pirate-y and rife with cinematic screw ups.
  
  
  
Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go
  To heal my heart and drown my woe.
  Rain may fall and wind may blow.
  And many miles be still to go.
  But under a tree I will lie,
  And watch the clouds go sailing by.
  -Drinking song
Zedd

Posts: 286
Member #76

Jul 3, 2007 8:32
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  Yeah... The only English grammar I was ever taught was in my 11th year of school, because I took a special class. Apart from that, what little I have comes from learning of other languages (especially French).
  
  '1337speak' is now... Spoken? That's just evil. And I mean EVIL. When did this start happenening?
  
  And yes, I live under a rock.
  
To be able to best ten men with spirit alone is to be invincible.
Blade

Posts: 362
Member #99

Jul 3, 2007 18:21
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  hmph..somewhere around the advent of myspace...damn myspace! myrealitysendspace, must advocate proper speech!
  
  But seriously tho', the amount of people I hear saying 'lol' is kinda scary..not to mention the kiddies who think they have coding skills because they copy codes for their myspace layouts.. it really is sickening.
  
Ho! Ho! Ho! to the bottle I go
  To heal my heart and drown my woe.
  Rain may fall and wind may blow.
  And many miles be still to go.
  But under a tree I will lie,
  And watch the clouds go sailing by.
  -Drinking song
Battalon127

Posts: 753
Member #25

Jul 3, 2007 19:09
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  Pfft, MySpace is nothing new. Before that it was Geocities and guestbooks. Pretty well the same thing, except it took a little more work to copy and paste your code back then, what with PageBuilders actually making you place it yourself, rather than having a handy-dandy little form. Really, none of it is the least bit new, it's just so much more high-profile these days (and has migrated from geek-cool to jerk-cool, which pretty well guarantees it to be higher-profile). And high-profile means it's invaded the pop-culture, which means you hear it more. Really it was only a matter of time. You can't have something as great as the internet without Joe Bastard eventually finding out about it. Well, you can if you're the military. Foolish military.
  
If you don't like someone, why bother pissing them off to begin with? Just go for the kill. ~Cheetarius
Sword
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