Narration


Outtakes 381

By Cait Collins

I love writing dialogue, but I’m not as enamored with writing narration.  You see, my background is in journalism. When writing the news, you’re limited by time.  Let’s face it; each story might get 15 seconds.  And unless it’s a major event, 30 seconds would be the maximum for a story. A good journalist learns to get the who, what, where, and why covered quickly and efficiently.  There’s just no time for excess words.

And that’s where I have problems.  I try to tightly edit my stories so that I’m not using too many words in a scene.  After all, is the sky color that important?  While I’m working hard to keep the novel or short story clean, I under write the piece. Believe me, editing out can be easier that adding in.  Adding in is a risk as the additional words could overpower the story.  And then you have to rewrite the scene.

I’ve come to realize that writing is a study in balance.  It takes time and practice to master the narration of a work and the verbal action.  I’m still working on it.

 

 

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Active Story Narration


Active Story Narration

Natalie Bright

Defined:story or account of events, experiences, or the like, whether true or fictitious. The art, technique, or process of narrating, or of telling a story.

Verbs can be a valuable tool in telling a story.

The right verb can evoke emotion, create strong imagery, and set the scene in the mind of your reader. Active verbs can be powerful and put your story in motion. In grade school when my sons worked on their homework using “spicey” words. I love that!

The “B” verbs have got to go: be, being, been, was, were, is. Hands up: who else is a “was” fan. I use it all the time. During my second pass of edits I find and replace as many of them as I possibly can. You probably have some common or overused verbs in your work. They only dull your sentences.

Here are a few examples:

Is fighting TO: attacked.

Was mad TO: flipped out.

Was walking TO: shuffled.

Was running TO: darted.

Don’t be afraid to let your verbs do the heavy lifting in your story narration.

 

THE NOTEBOOKS


THE NOTEBOOKS

Lynnette Jalufka

My weakest part of writing is descriptions. I’ll rather write dialogue and get to the action. But meager images shortchange my readers by not putting them into the story. Several years ago, author Cecil Murphy gave me this advice. He told me to write down the descriptions I found in the books I read. By doing so, I will get a feel for how to do them.

This technique has improved my ability to describe, though it’s still a challenge for me. As an added bonus, I now have notebooks filled with these passages. I read a page before I write to get me into author mode. If you are having trouble with descriptions, give this method a try.

The Unreliable Narrator


The Unreliable Narrator

by Adam Huddleston

In literature, films, etc, an unreliable narrator is one which is not completely credible.  The story that they are telling you is either false or exaggerated.  What’s often interesting is that this may or may not be apparent to the narrator.  They could consciously be telling tall tales, or be affected by mental illness or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  

Examples of an unreliable narrator include: Pi Patel in both the novel and film versions of The Life of Pi and the main characters in Forrest Gump, Big Fish, and The Usual Suspects, Fight Club.  One of my favorite parts of reading a story or watching a movie with an unreliable narrator is seeing if the tale contains a twist ending.  These endings often show us what the true situation with the narrator was and are quite enjoyable.  

Keep It Simple


Outtakes 380

 

Keep It Simple

By Cait Collins

 

Have you ever started reading a story or book and realized you needed a dictionary to understand what the author was saying?  I can’t say I had to pull out my handy Webster’s Dictionary, but there have been times when I had to read paragraphs several times before I could follow the story.  I usually don’t finish the book.

The point is that we don’t need to impress our readers by filling the pages with flowery description and hundred dollar words. Our narration should lead the reader in entering the story and bringing him in to the lives of the characters. The words should be descriptive, seasoned with adjectives and adverbs that strengthen but not over power the narrative.  Less can often mean more and better.

 

Who’s Telling the Story?


Who’s Telling the Story?

Rory C Keel

As we look at “Narration” of a story this month, think of Narration as the one telling the story.

Who is the Narrator?

Is the person telling the story the Hero? Is the one telling the story a friend of the Hero or companion? Maybe the narrator is merely an unnamed person who can see, hear and knows everything from a god-like perspective.

Who the narrator is will determine the viewpoint of the story.

COMMON THEMES FOR STORY NARRATION


COMMON THEMES FOR STORY NARRATION

Natalie Bright

My work in progress involves a narrow focus for research, but I’m finding so much great historical information I want the readers to know it all too. For my nonfiction book though, I’m forcing myself to stop chasing every topic that I might stumble across and instead, keep to the theme.

If you have trouble staying on task within your story narration like I sometimes do, you might consider writing under a common theme. Themes can be used for fiction as well. Write the theme in big letters and post it on your bulletin board so that you can be reminded. Your character’s motivation, conflicts, and the way they react to that obstacle can reflect the theme.

Some of the more common ones are listed below, and you might recognize them in your favorite books or movies.

Perseverance:

The main character never gives up no matter what obstacles are thrown in his path to achieving his goal. As the writer, you can make his life miserable, throw everything at him you can, and he will persevere.

Cooperation:

The main character is a leader who encourages others to work together, and the band of characters cooperate to solve the problem.

Courage:

The main character discovers his/her own inner strength to overcome fear and finds the courage to take the risk.

Acceptance:

The main character accepts their fate, accepts the reality of their world, or accepts others’ differences.

 

JUST ENOUGH


JUST ENOUGH

Lynnette Jalufka

Characters don’t exist in a vacuum. You must describe them, the world they live, and the atmosphere that surrounds them. So, how much description do you need to put in your book? The short answer is enough to make your readers feel a part of the story, but not so much that it causes them to stop reading, roll their eyes, and skip to the next section of dialogue.

Today, pictures are everywhere. Most readers will already have an image of what you are trying to describe. They have imaginations. You don’t need to go into excessive detail unless it is an important element of the story. Even then, be careful. I once read a novel which used a lengthy paragraph to describe a tiger, an essential character of the book. Every single hair was mentioned. I like tigers, but I got bored in the middle of it.

Don’t get carried away with your descriptions. Just make sure you include enough to anchor your readers in your story’s world.

 

The Voice


POSTCARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Voice

By Nandy Ekle

Narration. To tell a story. This is the writer speaking to the reader. It’s like a one-person play. 

And this is where a writer’s voice comes in. The voice is the writer’s uniqueness, the choice of words, the rhythm of the words, more dialogue or less dialogue. Some writers are excellent at very detailed description, others just give you a general idea and let you figure it out. But each one is different.

One idea of narration is to write in such a way that the narration is nearly invisible. This can make a great story because the characters are the ones telling the story. 

But I think one of my favorite methods is when the narrator adds flavor. If you ever read The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, you’ve seen this work. The characters are indeed telling the story, but the narrator adds his bits of information, sort of like Adam talked about in his blog. Stephen King also used this method in The Eyes of the Dragon, and Lemony Snicket used it in A Series of Unfortunate Events. 

Using this type of narration adds flavor without getting in the way of what the characters are up to. It can also add a little humor. And there are times when I read a story written in this way that I almost feel the writer in the room with me.

Your assignment is to read a few pages of your favorite book. Pay attention to all the words of the story that are not dialogue or action. 

Author Intrusion


Author Intrusion

by Adam Huddleston

This was a blog submission from 9-22-16.  I hope it helps you in your writing in some small way.

This week’s literary term is: author intrusion.  Another similar phrase you may have heard is: breaking the fourth wall.  It is a device where the author/narrator speaks directly to the reader/audience.  This can be used to give the reader extra information that might be difficult or time-consuming to acquire.  For example, in a stage-play, a character may step aside and speak to the viewers about what other characters in the story are thinking or doing.  Famous films that have used author intrusion are: Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Fight Club, and Blazing Saddles.