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Journals, retrospective, and odd points of view

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Journals, retrospective, and odd points of view

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  • #142632
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    Greetings fellow scriveners!

    Excuse me for the “Mysterious Benedict Society”-esque title, it was the most fitting. XD

    As some of you know, and the rest are to find out, I’ve been planning a new project. It’s a fantasy set in an alternate Edwardian/Rococo timeline, and it involves pirates, spies, and seamstresses. (And several other interesting things that aren’t of general interest.)

    My usual POV is either first or third-person past tense, and I haven’t tried much else, but I’ve been considering writing that book in a first-person retrospective, as though the character themselves are writing the book years after the event in a journal or something of the like.

    I recently read a book in a similar genre (Victorian fantasy) that was in this POV and it feels somehow more Victorian to me, and it gives the opportunity for some interesting narrative devices. (more on that later)

    The only other book with a vaguely similar POV I could think of was “The Book Thief” (though that has an outside narrator). Though, Railway Children has something similar, where the author addresses the audience and acknowledges that she’s writing on behalf of the characters.

    One disadvantage I could think of was that it has a far greater narrative distance, and I found it may slightly pull you out of the story if done poorly. Besides that, it also has a tendency to fall into telling. (Though most of these aren’t necessarily obstacles, they’re just things to take into account.)

    But there are quite a few advantages. Such as the opportunity for a strong narrative voice, and the character looking back on themselves with a more mature perspective. Besides that, it gives you a blurry view of the character’s life after the events of the book. (Or not, depending on how you do it)

    And you can address your audience directly and shatter the fourth wall. (which is always brilliant) I’ve always especially enjoyed books that address the audience. I don’t know why, it gives a certain feeling of trust between the reader and the character.

    So, has anyone tried this? Are there any more advantages or challenges I missed? Does anyone have tips?

    On that note, what’s a POV you don’t see often that you enjoy? What’s the oddest you’ve ever read?

    Tagging some people:

    @anyone and everyone!


    @noah-cochran


    @this-is-not-an-alien


    @r-m-archer


    @wingiby-iggiby


    @joelle-stone

     

    • This topic was modified 1 week, 3 days ago by Rose. Reason: Forgot something XD

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #142642

    Hey Rose!

    I couldn’t help noticing the title and thinking “sounds like it should be from the Mysterious Benedict Society”, and voila! you mentioned it yourself! xD Those books are so good.

    But after seeing that catching title, let me finish reading what this was about in the first place… xP

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #142643
    Noah Cochran
    @noah-cochran

    @rose-colored-fancy

    first-person retrospective, as though the character themselves are writing the book years after the event in a journal or something of the like.

    I am totally unfamiliar with this PoV. xD Could you give an example of this is use?  Would it be like a “I then sat on a chair, and glanced out one of the many windows that had, at that time, seemed flamboyant.”

    That kind of retrospection?

    I don’t really read odd PoV’s. xD My favorite is third person limited (past tense, not present tense). But I also enjoy first person central. I’ve read third person omniscient in Agatha Christie books, but otherwise I don’t like it that much, it can be done well thought. For the most part, I think sticking with First Person Central or Third Person Limited Past Tense are the best options. But if you want to try something unique, go for it, I’ll look forward to seeing how it turns out. 🙂

    This is pretty much just first person central, but the way The Moonstone by Willkie Collins is written is pretty neat. There are a bunch of different First Person PoV’s that are compiled as journal entries from different people to show the crime form all its different angles. It’s pretty great.

     

    #142644

    I haven’t personally written in first person-past tense, but I know I’ve read a few books at least with that POV and I enjoyed them. I can’t think of them in the moment, but I know I’ve read some before.

    One of the things I enjoy the most about that POV is how the MC (or narrator, basically), can foreshadow and leave hints here and there about what’s going to come next, as a result of them “telling” the story after it happened. I’m really bad at foreshadowing but I love it a ton. 🙂

    So while there are things you’d have to watch out for, as you listed above, it’d be really cool if you wrote a story in first person-past tense.

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #142655
    Joelle Stone
    @joelle-stone

    Excellent question, Rose!

    I’ve never written in this before, so I don’t think I’ll be of much help.

    BUT. I am imagining some seriously funny moments where your trademark-snarky characters break the fourth wall and try and correct something you’re saying. XD

    That being said, the best thing I can do for you is wish you good luck!!

    Good luck!! 😉

    "For love is strong as death." -God

    #142657
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    I recently read a book in a similar genre (Victorian fantasy) that was in this POV and it feels somehow more Victorian to me, and it gives the opportunity for some interesting narrative devices.

    *squints* Were you reading A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan?

    • This reply was modified 1 week, 2 days ago by R.M. Archer.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142666
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @olivia

    Hi Olivia! Thanks for replying! 🙂

    I couldn’t help noticing the title and thinking “sounds like it should be from the Mysterious Benedict Society”, and voila! you mentioned it yourself! xD Those books are so good.

    LOL, yes! I love those books and the titling is hilarious!

    One of the things I enjoy the most about that POV is how the MC (or narrator, basically), can foreshadow and leave hints here and there about what’s going to come next, as a result of them “telling” the story after it happened. I’m really bad at foreshadowing but I love it a ton.

    Exactly! I love that too! It gives you really interesting opportunities!!


    @r-m-archer

    *squints* Were you reading A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan?

    Spot on! It’s fairly interesting, albeit not my favorite book ever. (I found the pacing and story structure to be a bit off)  The premise was very cool and I like the point of view.


    @joelle-stone

    Hi Joelle! Thanks for replying! 🙂

    BUT. I am imagining some seriously funny moments where your trademark-snarky characters break the fourth wall and try and correct something you’re saying. XD

    That being said, the best thing I can do for you is wish you good luck!!

    Thank you! I’m excited about it 🙂

    LOL, they’re my trademark now? I blame Liorah XD (They kinda are though. Whether I mean it or not, every narrator becomes snarky XD)


    @noah-cochran

    Hi Noah! Thanks for replying! 🙂

    I am totally unfamiliar with this PoV. xD Could you give an example of this is use?  Would it be like a “I then sat on a chair, and glanced out one of the many windows that had, at that time, seemed flamboyant.”

    That kind of retrospection?

    Yes, but no. XD It’s like that, but not all of the time. The majority of the book would be written in first-person past tense, with occasional interruptions/comments from the narrator, who is the character in the present. (Which reminds me to make a post about audience awareness as a factor in narrative voices.)

    So, it would be like: (to use your example)

    “I sat on the chair and glanced out the tall windows at the flamboyant ships beyond. Later, when I was as far from them as I could get, I wouldn’t know whether to remember the memory fondly or dread it.”

    Something like that, but it wouldn’t be constantly interrupted. Only about two or three times a chapter. Sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on your execution.

    This is pretty much just first person central, but the way The Moonstone by Willkie Collins is written is pretty neat. There are a bunch of different First Person PoV’s that are compiled as journal entries from different people to show the crime form all its different angles. It’s pretty great.

    That’s a very cool format! I haven’t often thought of using something like that, but I think it would be awesome for some books! In some, it’s distracting, in others, it adds to the plot.

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #142671
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    Spot on! It’s fairly interesting, albeit not my favorite book ever. (I found the pacing and story structure to be a bit off) The premise was very cool and I like the point of view.

    I knew it! I loved that book. The sequel was good, too, but not as good as the first one, imo. I haven’t gotten the chance to read the rest of the series.

    I can see how the pacing could have felt off. I think I personally found it to suit the story and perspective, but it was maybe not the smoothest.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142672
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @r-m-archer

    I knew it! I loved that book. The sequel was good, too, but not as good as the first one, imo. I haven’t gotten the chance to read the rest of the series.

    LOL, Victorian Fantasy doesn’t leave you many options, unless you include steampunk XD

    I’m currently on the third book, and I do like it better than the second, it has a bit more variation in the setting. (And it includes portions on the sea and I have an immense weakness for sea stories)

    Honestly, the worldbuilding in those books is just astounding. I keep getting more and more impressed as it keeps going. And I really enjoy the characters, they’re very fun 🙂

    I can see how the pacing could have felt off. I think I personally found it to suit the story and perspective, but it was maybe not the smoothest.

    It did suit the story. It wasn’t very tightly paced action-adventure stuff, it was meant to be a bit slower, and it didn’t detract from the story too much. Even if it did, the premise “Victorian lady who is a dragon naturalist” is enough to keep me reading XD I don’t know how she came up with that but it’s the most brilliant thing XD

     

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #142673
    R.M. Archer
    @r-m-archer

    LOL, Victorian Fantasy doesn’t leave you many options, unless you include steampunk XD

    True. XD Someone really ought to fix that.

    I’m currently on the third book, and I do like it better than the second, it has a bit more variation in the setting. (And it includes portions on the sea and I have an immense weakness for sea stories)

    Ooooh. That sounds very nice.

    Honestly, the worldbuilding in those books is just astounding. I keep getting more and more impressed as it keeps going.

    Yesss. I’ve actually read one of Marie Brennan’s books about worldbuilding and it was really good. Her anthropologist background really comes through in her worldbuilding, lol. New Worlds: Book One is a little… unfiltered, due in large part simply to the subject matter of a couple of its chapters, but it’s great for pointing out areas of a world that you might not have thought to develop before.

    Even if it did, the premise “Victorian lady who is a dragon naturalist” is enough to keep me reading XD I don’t know how she came up with that but it’s the most brilliant thing XD

    LOL. Agreed!

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. Worldbuilding enthusiast. Singer. Fan of classic literat

    #142674
    Joelle Stone
    @joelle-stone

    LOL, they’re my trademark now? I blame Liorah XD (They kinda are though. Whether I mean it or not, every narrator becomes snarky XD)

    Yes. They is.

    And yes, Liorah deserves all the blame. *heaps blame on Liorah*

    XD MCs, am I right?

    "For love is strong as death." -God

    #142689
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @r-m-archer

    True. XD Someone really ought to fix that.

    Totally. It has a load of potential and the aesthetic is just plain cool XD

    Ooooh. That sounds very nice.

    It’s so good! And I love the new characters that get introduced. Among others, her son Jake actually gets a personality and is there for the majority of the book, which is really fun. And Suheil! I love him, he’s just the best character, definitely my favorite so far.

    Yesss. I’ve actually read one of Marie Brennan’s books about worldbuilding and it was really good. Her anthropologist background really comes through in her worldbuilding, lol. New Worlds: Book One is a little… unfiltered, due in large part simply to the subject matter of a couple of its chapters, but it’s great for pointing out areas of a world that you might not have thought to develop before.

    Oooh, that’s awesome! I’ll have to look into it! I loved how she used real cultures for her worldbuilding, but so vaguely it’s still interesting and original.

    And I love how much it’s fleshed out. Like the thing about dragon bone decaying because otherwise society would look so drastically different, and people trying to find sythesis for it. That was just the coolest!! And the thing about dragon naturalists constantly arguing about taxonomy was such a cool detail that I had never thought about!


    @joelle-stone

    Yes. They is.

    And yes, Liorah deserves all the blame. *heaps blame on Liorah*

    XD MCs, am I right?

    LOL, I have never had a cooperative MC XD And yes, let’s blame Liorah. Always XD

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

    #142720

    @rose-colored-fancy

    No problem! I like answering when I can. 🙂

    Agreed!!! I’ve always loved how unique the book and chapter titles are and have even thought about making my titles similar, since I love them so much. xD I might, but who knows…

    Yup, foreshadowing adds a lot to a story that you just can’t get any other way. *sighs contentedly, picturing someone reading my own future novel with lots of foreshadowing*

    Even the smallest person can change the course of the future. -JRR Tolkien

    #142727
    ScoutFinch190
    @scoutfinch190

    @rose-colored-fancy

    I actually have a fantasy rough draft set in a (I guess) Victorian-esque era where I did first-person retrospective. I found it great fun, until I couldn’t figure out how the darn thing would end. (but I haven’t given up on it!)

    I recommend reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (which employs a First-person retrospective narrative) and books by Charles Dickens or other Victorian-era authors to help get a similar prose which might help with the old-fashioned feel if you want to (note: it takes a while for Dickens novels to build up, it’s a slow burn and the final chapters are so hard to put down once you’ve become so invested A Christmas Carol is pretty much the only one I can think of that I’ve read that you don’t necessarily have to work for).

    I think maybe including how your character feels about the events as they happen may breach the distance a little, as well as suspense and maybe even a character who doesn’t remember everything that happened or learns of events afterward?

    Also, I recommend David <i>Copperfield</i> by Charles dickens, it’s in the first-person retrospective as well as being one of the first Victorian novels I remember listening to on audiobook.

    I hope this helps you 😊! (I am in no way an expert on this narrative style, I just thought I’d share what I know — and there’s nothing that can’t be fixed in the editing stage!)

    We crazy people are the normal ones.

    #142819
    Rose
    @rose-colored-fancy

    @olivia

    Agreed!!! I’ve always loved how unique the book and chapter titles are and have even thought about making my titles similar, since I love them so much. xD I might, but who knows…

    I love it too! I’ve thought about adding titles to my chapters, but I’ve never actually tried it. *Lightbulb moment* I could maybe do that with this next project! That might be cool! I’ll think about it! Thanks for the idea!

    Yup, foreshadowing adds a lot to a story that you just can’t get any other way. *sighs contentedly, picturing someone reading my own future novel with lots of foreshadowing*

    Yessss, foreshadowing is one of my all-time favorite things to do! I love reading and writing it!


    @scoutfinch190

    I actually have a fantasy rough draft set in a (I guess) Victorian-esque era where I did first-person retrospective. I found it great fun, until I couldn’t figure out how the darn thing would end. (but I haven’t given up on it!)

    That’s amazing! What’s the plot, what’s it about, I want to know everything it sounds too cool! I love Victorian fantasy in general, it’s just the best!

    I recommend reading Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson (which employs a First-person retrospective narrative) and books by Charles Dickens or other Victorian-era authors to help get a similar prose which might help with the old-fashioned feel if you want to (note: it takes a while for Dickens novels to build up, it’s a slow burn and the final chapters are so hard to put down once you’ve become so invested A Christmas Carol is pretty much the only one I can think of that I’ve read that you don’t necessarily have to work for).

    *High-fives fellow Dickens fan* XD

    I’ve read a lot of Victorian and Edwardian fiction, which is where I started loving the prose style! I kinda enjoyed Treasure Island, though I liked his book “Kidnapped” better! (Also first-person retrospective)

    Yep, they take an age to get rolling XD My favorite Dickens book so far was Great Expectations, and that didn’t get going until about a third of the way in!

    I think maybe including how your character feels about the events as they happen may breach the distance a little, as well as suspense and maybe even a character who doesn’t remember everything that happened or learns of events afterward?

    Oooh, that’s such a cool idea! I’ll be using that!

    Also, I recommend David <i>Copperfield</i> by Charles dickens, it’s in the first-person retrospective as well as being one of the first Victorian novels I remember listening to on audiobook.

    That’s awesome, I’ll totally look into it! (Also, audiobooks are the best for classics XD You can just go on with your thing while they infodump for fifteen pages XD)

    I’ve only read Great Expectations and Tale of Two Cities and a part of Pickwick Papers! I do really want to read some more but I keep getting distracted XD

    Thanks for your advice! That helped a lot! 🙂

    Without darkness, there is no light. If there was no nighttime, would the stars be as bright?

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