Narration – part 2

by juliusmsanz

Ok, so yesterday was a bit of a weird day for me, but my mind keeps on wondering and wandering. There are so many people resistant to change, it’s crazy. You’d be surprised with how small the percentage is of the users of critical thinking. As a philosophy lover myself I find that being able to think critically is probably one of the best skills a person can have.

Enough about that, let’s keep on talking about narration.

Yesterday I believe I talked about how voice is really important when writing a story. I mentioned that there are many opportunities that you can take advantage of when writing first-person style. A while back I wrote a short series of posts concerning literary devices or techniques. A couple of them were stream of consciousness and the unreliable narrator. I won’t explain them again, but these two can be amazing twists if you decide to follow the path of first-person narration. Why? Because you can simply change the point of view midway through the story and create a complete different setting using the exact same plot.

Let me tell you this: writing from the exact same point of view is not a bad thing. All of Sherlock Holmes tales are told using Watson’s point of view, and I think they are pretty good. Arthur Conan Doyle is a cornerstone in the literary world. But why not take advantage of the situation and change things up? I don’t like the “if it’s not broken don’t fix it” train of thought. That leaves nothing to be improved. If you switch and write in another character’s point of view then you can give the readers something a little bit extra. What if the guy you thought was the hero is actually the villain?

Only in cartoons we have a world of black and white. In the real world there are many shades of grey. I think I wrote about this before too, so sorry about repeating myself, but I have to get this point across.

I believe a good book is one that not only has something interesting to tell, but it also tells it in an interesting way. If you are writing horror then you definitely want to scare your audience, if you are writing a suspense or a thriller you want to thrill your audience. That means people getting scared, like I was for example whenever I saw a horror movie in my childhood. If you have an opportunity to confuse or screw with your audience then why not do it?

Now a word of caution. Take that last bit of advice with a pinch of salt. There’s a big difference between jerking around with your audience and teasing them and playing mind games. If you write something that makes the reader mad then he not only will not read your next story, he will tell all of his/her friends what a bad writer you are.

It’s all about the payoff and the ability to build a consistent, well-thought of story, not just throwing twists for the hell of it and destroying part of the story.

Another of my favorites written in first-person: The Great Gatsby. Just a phenomenal piece of work.

Well, this is it for today, except a haiku I’ll write within an hour or so. Tomorrow I’ll write even more about narration.

Have a nice day!