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Author Topic: Core Storytelling Best Practices (5 +/- 2)
Scot
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The other day I was trying to get a concise list of what I need to pay attention to as I'm storytelling. There's nothing new to the list. But, in my effort to keep things small so I can keep them in my sight, in my mind, I worried that I might be missing an important angle.

If you have ideas for things that might be missing, could you add to my topics & questions, please?

A reader's questions about where the rubber hits the road:

1. Narrator: Is this voice someone interesting enough to spend quite a bit of time with?
2. Protagonist: Is this character someone I can root for?
3. Setting: Is this an interesting place for things to happen?
4. PLOT (aka, life-blood): What's going to happen next?


Thx in advance.

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Disgruntled Peony
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5. Antagonist: Is the conflict between the antagonistic force and the protagonist something I can relate to? If the antagonist is a person, do his/her motivations make sense?
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extrinsic
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Meaning. A story that only recounts a series of events that happen in one or more settings to one or more individuals is inherently superficial and daydream. What's the text really about moral human condition and moral crisis-wise is what its meaning means.
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Grumpy old guy
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6. Structure: Does the story have a beginning, a middle, and an end? Further, does the story 'action' begin and then progressively increase in intensity to a satisfying climax?

Phil.

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Robert Nowall
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Query on #1: If the story is third-person---a good many are---is The Narrator a character at all? It'd shift the functions of "being interesting" onto The Protagonist...
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Grumpy old guy
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However, Robert, would you listen to a boring narrator or close the page? A narrator, even if not a character, should still be interesting--in tone, if not in voice.

Phil.

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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
Query on #1: If the story is third-person---a good many are---is The Narrator a character at all? It'd shift the functions of "being interesting" onto The Protagonist...

It depends. Quite a lot of 3rd-person narratives have an "invisible narrator." Although, you could argue that that's a voice, too.

But then think of THE HOBBIT. That narrator is most definitely a character in the story.

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Robert Nowall
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At that point, Narrator and Protagonist have merged. If the "seeing things through the Protagonist's eyes" thing holds, third-person or not...
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Meredith
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quote:
Originally posted by Robert Nowall:
At that point, Narrator and Protagonist have merged. If the "seeing things through the Protagonist's eyes" thing holds, third-person or not...

Nope. I have to disagree. Protagonists act (or they should). They have to have a stake in the action and take part--even lead at some point. Bilbo is the protagonist. The narrator just has a distinct voice and opinions about the characters and the situations they get themselves into.
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Robert Nowall
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Depends on whether "Narrator is Writer" or "Narrator is Character Who Interacts With Other Characters."

If the former, well, then, "Narrator / Writer" should also be "The Invisible Man," so to speak.

Take, oh...say, some of the third-person Heinlein juveniles---"Space Cadet" comes to mind. The story drifts out of the protagonist's view a couple of times...there are several info dumps along the way...but, on the whole, the Narrator is not a character in the story.

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Grumpy old guy
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I disagree Robert. Space Cadet is pretty firmly set and maintained within a viewpoint character's POV. It is also a antithetical counterpoint to his earlier novel Starship Troopers. A story often quoted as 'proof' of Heinlien's right-wing, militaristic leanings--a canard and utter poppycock.

Phil.

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Robert Nowall
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By and large, yes. But there are a couple short bits where it's plainly not the main character's viewpoint---the tail end of the swearing-in ceremony, where Commodore Arkwright chats with his aide, comes to mind
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extrinsic
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See Story and Discourse, Seymour Chatman, for a discussion about narrative point of view and distinctions between non-narrated and narrated narratives.

Briefly, the distinction of substance is whose voice predominates overall and at any given moment. Character voice comes from within a narrative's action and setting, or narrator to some degree comes from a removed distance relative to a narrative. Stream-of-consciousness methods favor character voice predominance; a grammatically proper voice favors a narrator voice predominance. Note that Standard English grammar is not standard, many dialects possess standard and unique principles.

A non-narrated narrative emphasizes character voice. The narrative distance is close, does not generally express narrator commentary about the action, etc., nor summarize or explain -- tell.

However, the principle that variety is spice means narrator and character voice emphasis shift across a gradient. A narrator is a given, and as nigh absolute as can be. However, if the narrator emulates and represents character voice predominantly, that is a non-narrated narrative.

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