Never Told (A Little About Narration)

Posted On May 8, 2013

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I realize I may be straying from teaching, so I’ll get back into that a bit.

I’ve recently been getting back into Pria, one of my…more different stories. Oh, it’s the usual ~CRK wierdness: psychological/emotional conflict and discovery, odd character that is totally outside the norm, an idea that sounds perfect for 7-year-old girls (ballet) except it’s the exact opposite, and the fact that the narration for this story is completely different from anything I’ve ever done.

[And, yes, I really do skip back and forth between books this much. It’s no wonder I never finish any]

Pria, the titular character, is an extremely talented ballerina who has a completely different outlook on life than everyone else (she’s very precocious for a little girl) and who goes to the beat of a different drummer. I can’t go into detail, because that’s not the point when dealing with Pria–she’s not supposed to be described easily.

Unlike her seemingly-similar counterpart, FM, who I recently talked about forever, her story and learned ways of the world are not spelled out in her own thoughts as they occur; her personality’s only basis are her actions and reactions relayed in 3rd person narration, which assumes her thoughts mirror or somewhat explain why she does the things she does. So, in that sense, Pria’s a complete mystery. Maybe she doesn’t even think at all…or maybe she’s more profound than FM–We’ll never know. It’s up to us to make that decision as we read and learn about her as she grows.

So, this got me thinking about narration and why people choose certain ways to narrate stories over others. I almost always choose first person because I feel it conveys the character better and because, most often, the character wants to tell the story herself [or himself].

That…and I stink at 3rd person.

3rd person, to me, just felt wierd. I guess I thought subconsciously that it was too…awkward and distant from what was happening. That…and 3rd person relies on observations and “show not tell” blah, which I am even worse at. It’s a wonder I even decided this for Pria! But…it’s because it’s perfect for her because we can never get inside her head.

In addition to choosing 1st or 3rd, one must choose present or past. It used to be that I always wrote in past tense, but ever since I began writing in present via stream-of-consciousness writing, I instinctually write in present tense. Pria will be in present tense because I want to show how Pria grows over time and what kinds of things are happening now and what could happen later.

Lastly, there’s a narration style (within one’s own style, I suppose). Within me is an evil entity that loves to narrate 3rd person and make everything ten times creepier than it should be, so I have to tell him to shut up whenever I write in 3rd. Instead, I’ll try to use my own style (whatever that is) that is more…insightful and empathetic rather than my usual brand of nonsensical rambling with random jokes sprinkled in (I use that for memoirs). Pria needs an empathetic narrator to try to piece together her actions with her emotions, though sometimes it’s hard to tell what she’s feeling.

[I’m sorry, I feel this needs another example, so I have to bring up FM again]

Contrast Pria’s narrator with FM’s now. I chose FM to narrate himself simply because I’m in love with his dialog style, and I’m jealous of it (I can copy it now, though). Though, now I realize it’s significant because we can see him for who he truly is rather than guessing by his actions. Ironically, his words play a significant part in deciphering who he is (probably because he loves to talk, anyway, so that help supplement his being different and wanting to be himself). Plus, if I tried to write a depiction of one of his short stories based only on his actions (like an animated version or something), I’m sure that everyone would be insanely lost…if it weren’t for the written version. So, both the inside and outside perspectives come together and paint a better picture.

As for Pria, I have no idea. She’s literally a walking blank slate.

It could also go for that simple fact, too; I spent literally 6/7 months crafting every aspect of the elusive silence’s psyche, but when it comes to Pria, I just give up and say, “Well, she’s Pria.” It’s not that she doesn’t think, per se, it’s just…I dunno. I just don’t know.

Et vous? What do you think of narration?

[FM- Well, I–]

Not you!

[FM walks away sadly]


One Response to “Never Told (A Little About Narration)”

  1. penguingirl12


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