This is topic Tell Arts and Sciences in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by extrinsic (Member # 8019) on :
One or two writers here and elsewhere observe I favor close distance, favor show, favor viewpoint character voice as opposed to narrator voice. A valid observation, that.

However, my true position is that I will favor narrator voices when those suit a narrative and the narrator persona's voice is strong in terms of attitude, also known as tone. Favor agonist voices most, narrator as agonist, too. Plus, if the narrator takes an opinion position with regard to a contest, such that the narrator is vested in the contest action and, ergo, influences and is influenced by the action. Likewise, a narrator exhibit an emotional and moral charge, both positive and negative, best not neutral at all, for variety's sake that is natural and necessary or probable. In other words, in short, a narrator is a strong, if not the strongest, attitude holder of a narrative.

Strong attitude exhibition is with whom I'm most likely to align if those above conditions are met -- narrator agonist or viewpoint character agonist. Not to mention if an other persona is the focal agonist, or protagonist, deuteragonist, or triagonist, to include nonliving or inanimate objects or abstract forces, like, a sky spirit that personifies, say, a metaphysical force, or a similar yet different science fiction topos like time travel. H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, for example, personifies historical records viewed as predictions of the future, albeit, for a moral law assertion.

Tell transcends its blasé summary and explanation if emotionally and morally charged, of a strong attitude, and is a substantive and transformative matter to a narrator.

I'm re-reading Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, 2004, one of the recent-few successful fantastic fiction novels that is entirely told from an omniscient narrator's viewpoint. Frankly, the narrator's attitude rarely rises above detached and emotionless, with the sole point that magic is sorely missed in Britain. Subtly, though, with some effort perhaps more required than best practice, an overall attitude emerges of some approving, abstract connection between magic and the regency empire. Magic, as abstract as it is, symbolizes Britain's imperialist heyday. In that light, as farfetched an interpretation as it might be, the novel and the narrator's attitude present. The whole and its parts and pieces unravel therefrom.

The novel is a dry read, though, and long, and at many times directionless, though the overall motivation is clear -- the restoration of magic in the empire. The personal stakes for characters are strong, though not the novel overall; if magic is or isn't restored, what the consequences are never develops. Frankly, also, the novel reads as a slice of life vignette, akin to James Joyce's Ulysses and David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest, likewise long novels and vignettes. Like them, the novel ends with no substantial transformation. Life goes on within and without the portrayed slice of life.

If the novel began with a goal, motivation as it were, like magic restoration and what that means in regard to empire, and stakes; that is, forces in conflict that are present throughout, the novel would have a central direction and a dramatic-transformative outcome end. Nope, vignette, not drama. Stronger narrator attitude, stronger narrator complication (goal motivation), stronger narrator conflict (stakes in contention), the novel would appeal more.

If the above interpretation of a connection between magic and empire were the intent, the motivation of the empire's restoration would stand more forward and appeal more. The outcome would also be dramatic; that is, transformative. What, empire restored and wanted, positive? Or empire portrayed as an evil, unwanted, and negative? Or a third outcome?

The above in total is generally why I rarely favor narrator tell narratives: Artless tell.

To repeat an earlier stated proverb, if a narrator tell is the intent, Get emotionally carried away. Make a scene on the page.

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