Narratives


Narratives

by Adam Huddleston

Sometimes we take for granted our readers’ understanding of literary terms.  This week, I wanted to quickly define the main types of narrative.

First-person narrative: The story is told from the narrator’s point of view.  Pronouns seen are typically I and me.  If the plot is in past tense, the reader knows that the narrator will survive whatever dangers they face.  If it is in present tense, the suspense is still there.

Second-person narrative: The story is told from the reader’s point of view.  You are actively participating in the plot.  A well-known example of this is the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books.

Third-person narrative: The story is told from a narrator outside of the story.  They may either be omniscient or remain in the “heads” of one or more of the characters.  This is the most commonly seen type of narrative.  

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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.  

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.

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!

Pantser or Plotter?


Pantser or Plotter?

By Adam Huddleston

Here’s a repost of a blog from 2015

So the questions come up when new writers look to begin their first work: How do you write a story?  Do you begin at the first and then just plug away?  Do you organize all of your scenes first and then write it?  What’s the best way?

Guess what folks.  It really depends on the writer and their preferences.  I will say that there are pros and cons to each. Let’s examine the two prevailing methods.

  1. The “pantser” writes by the seat of his/her pants.  They start from word one and let it fly. The plot unfolds as they write.  This can be a very exciting and creative method, but it can also lead to quite a bit of editing later on. 
  2. The “plotter” plans out each scene and plot twist before they begin to write anything.  This allows the process to be more streamlined and decreases editing. 

Most writers probably use a little of both and what works best for you is simply that; what works best for you.  I prefer to write and edit the “major” scenes that I know I want in the story then piece them together with “minor” scenes. 

Try out both methods and see which you prefer.  Happy writing!

Non-linear Plot


Non-linear Plot

by Adam Huddleston

Infuriating to some, fascinating to others, a non-linear plot in writing or film can be very thought provoking.  I, for one, am a fan of non-linear narrative.  

What does it mean for a work to be non-linear?  A simple definition is that it is a plot that does not follow a chronological path.  This can be obtained by using multiple plot lines, character flashbacks, or internal narrative.  

Literary examples include: “Wuthering Heights”, “Slaughterhouse-Five”, and “Cloud Atlas”.  Examples in film include several Quentin Tarantino pieces such as “Pulp Fiction”, “Reservoir Dogs”, and “The Hateful Eight”.  One movie told almost completely in reverse is “Memento”.  

While some readers or movie viewers are put off by the fact that they have to work to make sense of the narrative, I enjoy piecing the plot together.  It makes for a fun trip through the story and gives a feeling of accomplishment by the tale’s end.  I highly recommend giving some of these books and movies a try and see what you think.   

Plot Structure


Plot Structure

by Adam Huddleston

 

Here is a blog submission from 2017 pertaining to plot.

I can’t recall exactly where I got this from (could have been on this Wordsmith Six site for all I know) but I found it to be very useful.

Plot Structure

Hook:

Inciting incident:

First plot point:

First pinch point:

Mid-point:

Second pinch point:

ONWAGD:

Second plot point:

Climax:

Denouement:

Show protagonist in “normal” (current) world- Protagonist is incomplete (reveal flaw/insecurity/secret want)

Inciting incident that forces protagonist from normal world- Increased awareness of need for change

Introduce key secondary characters; establish setting & tone- fear/resistance to change — comfortable in current life

Protagonist must make a choice/decision- Overcomes fear/resistance to change

Plot point #1: Journey begins as result of decision Mental/emotional commitment to change

Protagonist begins “living” in the new world Protagonist is disorganized (imagine the feeling of first day in new school)

New complications arise Protagonist is tested and begins adapting to new ways/questioning the old

Complications grow –Complications escalate to new crisis Protagonist is slowly growing, but still inauthentic–not committed to changed self

Mid-point: crisis forces new decision/direction Protagonist is confronted with their flaw/desire (often is the antagonist who holds up this “mirror”)

Protagonist catches breath (even if complications are brewing behind the scenes) Reward scene: protagonist has accomplished something and has brief moment of victory

Complications develop new level of complexity Begins accepting consequences of new life

Favorite Quotes


Favorite Quotes

by Adam Huddleston

 

For this week’s blog concerning dialogue, I wanted to resurrect an older blog containing some of my favorite quotes.  Enjoy!

“It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”  —   Mark Twain

“When I die, I want to go peacefully like my grandfather did–in his sleep. Not yelling and screaming like the passengers in his car.”  —  Bob Monkhouse

“I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.”  —  Douglas Adams

When you are courting a nice girl an hour seems like a second. When you sit on a red-hot cinder a second seems like an hour. That’s relativity.  —  Albert Einstein

A government that robs Peter to pay Paul can always depend on the support of Paul.        —  George Bernard Shaw

Master of Dialogue


Master of Dialogue

by Adam Huddleston

“Master” might be a bit much, but I feel that one of the greats when it comes to writing dialogue in their work is Quentin Tarantino.  I know a lot of people are put off by the extreme violence and subject matter in his movies, when you sit and listen to his characters speak to each other, you see that he has a firm hold on realistic language.

For example, look at movies like “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs”.  The film characters are mostly all criminals, committing dangerous acts that none of us would ever do, but their speech is completely relatable.  They discuss mundane topics like cheeseburgers, tipping waitresses, and a hunger for pancakes.  This dialogue connects the movie watcher with the characters and brings them into the story.  

While some may feel that Tarantino’s dialogue borders on the vulgar, each line is appropriate for the situation and executed perfectly by the actor or actress.  If you have a few hours to spare, I highly recommend the aforementioned films for there plot and especially their dialogue.

Dialect


Dialect

by Adam Huddleston

The literary term this week is: dialect.  This word is simply defined as the pronunciation, grammar, and spelling of a particular people.  Dialect is one facet that separates groups of people from one another.  Using dialect effectively increases the level of characterization and leads to more enjoyment by the reader.  

Many authors have used regional dialects well.  The first author that comes to my mind is Mark Twain.  If you’ve ever read Tom Sawyer or Huckleberry Finn, you can almost feel Southern speech dripping off the page.  My favorite author, Stephen King, uses speech patterns and phrases often heard in the northern New England states.   

One word of advice: if you give a character a specific dialect, be cautious that it is one generally understood by your audience and not what you think it sounds like.  For example, some may believe that all Southerners use the term “ain’t” or drop the “g” off of the ending of words.  Many do, but don’t fall into the trap of stereotyping.

Hopefully, the proper use of dialect will flesh out your characters.  Happy writing!