Storytelling – Start That Novel – Part 4

Oh dear, I’m back to my usual last-minuteness with this blog update, but to be fair, it’s been a very busy week for me.

Last Monday’s course was as interesting as ever, as we turned to looking at viewpoint. Rosie asked us to think about the different ways of telling a story. We listed – dialogue, descriptions, narration, explanation of subject and thought.

We also thought about the order we tell our stories – are they told from beginning to end, or from the end to the beginning?? (Sarah Waters did this in The Night Watch, which is brilliant, btw). Is it framed by another story, like Susan Hill’s creepy tale, The Woman in Black? Are there multiple viewpoints (Kate Atkinson does this very skilfully in her books). Is there a great chronological distance between the narrator and the story or is it a stream of consciousness? Is it narrated in first person, third person or second person?? Rosie quoted David Lodge from his book, The Art of Fiction.  – Point of View is the single most important choice a writer makes. It will determine how your readers respond and relate to your characters and the action in your novel.

Rosie then set us off on an exercise to alter a couple of pages of our work into another viewpoint. Whilst this felt like quite an uncomfortable task – as many of us are quite far into our stories, playing around with one of the most fundamental choices we’ve made, felt quite weird. But, as Rosie explained, this  really helps us question our choices and think about how stories might change if we use a different view point.

We then had a go at telling someone else’s story in the third person view point. Our partners gave us a basic narrative and it was then up to us to add feelings, colour and texture to bring their stories to life.

I mentioned that the second person (when you speak to someone, addressing them directly throughout the story) can work well in flash fiction. There’s a free to enter flash fiction comp here, with the Erewash Writers’ Circle – I’m planning to enter though have yet to find an idea which matches the theme.


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