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.

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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.

The Other Character



Outtakes 279

 

The Other Character

By Cait Collins

Narration is a major component of a story.  Through narration we learn where we are. We become aware of the specifics of the setting, the season, the weather, and our characters.  We meet our characters through narration.  The narration sets the scene and introduces action.

I thought writing a screenplay would free me from writing narration, but guess again. Although the screenplay is heavy on the dialogue, the scene must be set,  characters introduced, and the action started.

 

FADE IN

STRAITS OF FLORIDA – 1662  —  DAY

The Brisit man-o-war, the Glory, rides the swells of the outgoing tides as she sails into the Straits of Florida

JAMES MATTHEWS (V.O.)

We were two days out and tacking west

into the Straits of Florida when the

look out sighted a galleon of f the

port bow,closing fast.

The Spanish galleon, the Luca, sails within firing range.

JAMES MATTHEWS (V.O.)

El Diablo stood at the helm, cutlass

raised.  Captain Thomas ordered a volley

over the Luca’sbow.  El Diablo slashed’

the air with his sword and his cannons

fired.

A ball blasts through the Glory’srailing and breaks through the

deck.  Shouts of “Fire” echo across the Glory’s ranks.  A cannon

ball blows a hole in the Luca’s starboard bow.

(Excerpt from Legends, Lies, and Lizards A Screenplay based on the unpublished novel of the same name.)

 

 

 

The narration in the screenplay serves the same purpose as the narration in a short story or novel.

As a main character, the narration must have personality.  Its tone must reflect mood and pace of the scene.

The Hero’s Journey: A Narrative Pattern


The Hero’s Journey: A Narrative Pattern

Natalie Bright

 

“There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.” WILLA CATHER

 

It’s impossible to cover the topic of narration during this month without touching upon THE HERO’S JOURNEY.

First identified by American scholar Joseph Campbell, it appears in storytelling across generations. Once you understand the basic narrative pattern you will recognize it immediately in myth and legends, more often in Hollywood blockbuster movies. Many filmmakers owe their success to this enduring story pattern.

The main character, the hero, accomplishes amazing feats on behalf of the rest of us. The story focuses on his journey or adventure. The hero is a universal character, crossing time and cultures.

The stages are as follows:

  1. The Ordinary World
    2. The Call of Adventure
    3. Refusal of the Call
    4. Meeting the Mentor
    5. Crossing the First Threshold
    6. Tests, Allies, Enemies
    7. Approach to the Inmost Cave
    8. The Ordeal
    9. Reward (Seizing the Sword)
    10. The Road Back
    11. Resurrection
    12. Return with the Elixir

One of the most obvious movies that uses this pattern of narration is STAR WARS. Luke Skywalker receives the call to adventure but refuses at first.  Watch this movie again and take notes as you follow the outline above. I encourage you to find out more about the Hero’s Journey and how it can help you develop your characters and the plot of your book.

Happy Writing!

 

BACK TO THE FIRST RULE


BACK TO THE FIRST RULE

Lynnette Jalufka

 

The more you read, the more you get the feel for how a story is structured. An exercise I learned in a workshop was to pick up a book you’ve read and open it to the middle. There should be a major turning point in the story. I’ve often found it to be true, no matter if the book was about 200 pages or 870 pages.

Think about your favorite books. Where are the turning points? When do they occur? Open one up and see if there is a major one in the middle. Doing this helps you to know where to put them in your own story. No wonder the first rule of writing is “read, read, read.”

Being Consumed


POSTCARDS FROM THE MUSE

Being Consumed

By Nandy Ekle

I know my job is to write about plot. Plot is very important because that’s the essence of the story. It’s the conflict, it’s how the characters react to the conflict, it’s how the conflict reacts to the characters, and it’s who wins in the end. In short, if you got no plot, you got no story.

Lately, something has happened to me that I crave to happen constantly. I am consumed by a story. This story popped in my head a couple of years ago while listening to a song on my play-list. This song is on an album I had as a teenager and I wore it out listening to it so much. Now, as an adult with the ability to purchase electronic forms of music, I found the album on-line and bought it. So all the songs were familiar old friends. 

But when this particular song played, it was more than just remembering how much I liked it back in yore. A seed opened up and a root shot out into my mind. I had to hear the song again, and again, and again, over and over. The root grew a stem, the stem grew leaves, and a bud began to open. And all the while, the roots took over more and more of my mind.

I am now so consumed by this story growing that every thought I have goes back to the song. 

Congratulations. You have just received a postcard from the muse.

Snowflake Method (Summarized)


Snowflake Method (Summarized)

by Adam Huddleston

For my last blog concerning plots, I wanted to summarize the Snowflake method created by Randy Ingermanson.  

1.  Write a one-line summary of your entire story

2.  Expand your one-line summary into a paragraph

3.  Write a one-page summary for each major character

4.  Expand each sentence of your one-line summary into a full paragraph (about one page)

5.  Expand your one-page plot summary into a four-page synopsis

6.  Continue expanding major and minor character descriptions

7.  Continue expanding your synopsis by creating individual scenes (a program such as Excel will help)

I hope this helps in your writing!