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Author Topic: Hers, Mine, and Ours
Robert Nowall
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I've been rewriting the first half of one of my works---that same one that had all those chapter / scene headings, as a matter of fact---and have lately started to worry about some awkward phrasing.

In brief, the main character, first-person narrative, is kinda pod people---she has all the memories and the exact physical appearance of the original, and everybody she's met since the "transformation" believes she is the original---but she knows full well she is not.

I find I keep writing scenes where this character will say something like "my stuff" and then I interrupt the sentence and type "---her stuff." "My parents---her parents," "my clothes---her clothes." Or "I remember when I did this---I remember when she did this." (No exact examples here, just the way it goes.)

How much of this is too much? It seems to be adding to the word length, but I see no real way around it. (I tried the story out in third person, but it was even more awkward that way.)


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steffenwolf
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I think this would go along the same lines as trying to write an accent. If you use it a few times at the beginning, people will get the point, but then cut back and use it VERY sparingly. If the reader knows she's a pod person after a little explanation, then they don't need constant reminders of it, they want to concentrate on the story.
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philocinemas
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I would agree with keeping it to a minimum. Some of it would depend on whether she's trying to keep this a secret and how she is feeling about it. Is she wrestling with being a replacement/clone and is she a separate entity? Some of this could be expressed in her thoughts, but I'd keep the italics to a minimum as well.
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Robert Nowall
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Part of the problem is that my character is sure of who she is not---but less sure of who she is.

And she's the heroine of the story---one would think a person who's stolen someone else's memories in order to disguise themselves as that person would be absolutely evil, but in this case no.

Strip away the pod person issue, and she's what she is---an extremely scared and confused teenager.


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deebum25
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I had to smile when I read your post that said your characters is more sure of who she's not rather than who she is. Sounds like a perfect description of an adolescent. Were you planning a parallel between figuring out who you are as an adolescent and a pod person figuring out who they are as a real person? Just curious.
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philocinemas
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I would think a well-placed description of how she stumbles when thinking of herself as the original person, somewhere in the early part of the narrative and then an occasional reminder, would suffice. Someone had suggested something similar when I was discussing imagery in my thread. Even a pause "I...had the the cutest puppy when I was a child," might get the message across without being too disruptive.

If she doesn't want anyone to know she is a pod person, I would assume she would try not to use "she" to refer to herself.


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Novice
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Perhaps your topic is part of the answer. "Our clothes", etc.

Using the character's name might be effective, as well. If her name is Character, she would think of herself as "I" or "me", but the girl she has replaced would still be "Character". For example, "I remember when Character..." "I wore Character's blue sweater."

During my teenage years, I had a classmate who referred to himself in third person to be funny. She might cover with something similar, in case she accidentally says, "Character once did..."


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Pyraxis
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In her internal monologue, you could use "her" when referring to memories or old possessions, and "I" when referring to anything she's owned or done since the transition. I think if it were a general principle , it would convey her alienation and displacement without becoming annoying, because the reader would get the hang of it after a while. All her dialog could be "I" except a slip or two to get the point across, because that would be what people would expect. The attention from messing up - maybe being considered crazy - would condition her out of it pretty fast.
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micmcd
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My impression is that you mainly want to get across the separation between "I" and "her" in the character's internal monologue. Do other people know she's a pod person, and are they cool with that? If so (and I'm now thinking of a weird society where this is normal), then you could have her very pointedly say "her" all the time. Otherwise, always "I" in speech unless she slips up, but people notice something like that, so the slip up should cause a disturbance (again, unless people are accepting of pod people in your book).
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Robert Nowall
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I would think saying "our" this-or-that would be appropriate if the original and copy were (a) hanging out together, and (b) on friendly terms. By the constraints of the plot I've come up with, that's out of the question.

By the way, along the way, at least three people with speaking roles know my lead character is a pod person---there are a mess of cops in the final scenes who probably know too, but that's irrelevant. (At least two of them are fellow pod people, too, though that takes some time to determine...) My main character will start to slip up in speech as the action continues.

(By the "by the way," I think I'm a little influenced here by The Beatles---in "Anthology," some of them, particularly George Harrison, would say things like "The Beatles, they were a pretty good group," as if he wasn't part of "they" and was only an outside observer looking on. It seemed odd to me---does every time I've watched it---but I think it's influencing me here and now. (I gather Charlie Chaplin would always refer to The Tramp as if the character were completely separate---always in third person.))


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