Narration – part 4

by juliusmsanz

Try as I might I just can’t find the proper time to read and comment on some of the great people I’ve been following. I’ve been meaning to correct that situation and I believe I’ve found a solution, so very soon I’ll be able to pay more attention and get more advice.

With that cleared out let’s continue to talk about narration.

I’ve been trying to find some positives for second-person narration in the back of my mind, but it has been hard to find something proper and not gimmicky. This type of narrative offers great potential in roleplay. Since I’m quite fond of roleplay I know that already. You see, we like to pretend sometimes that we are somebody else, we like to imagine we’re some slick spy, or some amazing pirate or great warrior on a quest. That’s why games are such a big deal, and have always been a big deal. I see no problem with that whatsoever, real life is sometimes boring and we need to chill and just take a break, do something to disconnect with this reality.

But once I begin to think about real literature, true stories with characters and a plot and some subplots, I just can’t think of true and tested viable uses for second-person narration. It’s a niche thing, nothing more, nothing less, and it will probably never have a solid, cemented place in the book business. In part 3 of this ongoing series I gave it some praise, and believe that if done right it can be a new gateway for terror, not horror, stories.

Now allow me to finish, not really, writing about first-person narration.

When writing in this style you are given much more freedom than any other narration type, but it will only be good until you follow the rules. When you’re writing in first-person you need to know that you can only write about what you see, or what you saw. This means you can’t play God. You can’t write about how you sensed someone walking in the other side of town. You can’t write about what other characters are feeling unless you, the protagonist are highly intuitive or can read people’s minds. You can’t write about how the other characters see you. You can obviously do that if you narrate a bunch or characters using first-person narration, but I won’t recommend doing that for any more than two or three characters. Here’s why: nobody thinks about their name or other important details that can be relevant for the story. You might write in a different style, but you cannot do anything different with dialogue.

Let me give you a tiny example:

“You can’t be serious about this!” I couldn’t help but to betray myself bursting out like that, the wall I created vanished in just a couple of seconds. “Please tell me you’re kidding.”

“You know I’m serious.” He didn’t even flinch.

So what am I trying to prove here? You don’t think about names of the characters, you don’t say them to yourself. You can think about people, you can describe them in your mind, but please pay attention to your style and where do you want to take your story. You won’t write the names of the characters as often as you might have done in third-person narration, because we, as human beings, just don’t function that way. In this example I wrote about how one character didn’t flinch, but how the hell did I know what he was truly feeling? You can use that to your advantage of course, but always be careful.

That’s it for today, tomorrow there’s more.

Have a nice day!