A Narrative Comparison

To write in first person is to take into account the authors view point or POV using “I” or “me” statements. Third person limited knows the feelings of a single character whereas other characters are limited as external casts without knowledge of them personally other than their support to the story. On the other hand, Third Person Omniscient knows the feelings of all the characters in the story.

The desire is to transition from a first person narrative into a third person omniscient to create an epic story.

Jack, a post-apocalyptic super hero, is writing about his experience and what led up to the ultimate conspiracy to save mankind. At some point, the POV transitions to capture other characters from a third person omniscient. Certainly, the story can be one dimension or detached as told strictly from a first person narrative. To avoid being detached, it is necessary to understand that the pace and flow in the relational first and third person characters are important for the reader to experience the story. Story experience is dependent on and coexistent to pace and flow and the narrative is an intimate guide to this process.  Therefore, how should the narrative transition to provide the best pace and flow for the reader’s experience?

This can be done using timelines to manage breaks from one POV to the next. The Preface should reflect from a first person narrative and then transition into third person with the beginning chapter. It is important to wrap up the preface so that it flows into the first chapter with designated timelines – even if hundreds of years apart. Deciding on an entry point to the story – both in the preface as well as the beginning chapter is important. Similarly, the urge to expound too deeply on the story details must be resisted from the first person POV where the preface should only be used to establish a backdrop or back story to create interest and story context for the reader.

For example:

Preface: I was not always considered a derelict. Though, I admit, most days were meant for nothing but shelter when the sun showed no mercy. It was the blistering hot air that pressed against the temples, causing thoughts to sizzle in a baked out brain. How did we come to this place? I always figured things would work out. I remember when it all started and the pop squads began making their rounds.

Chapter One: Jack fell into the wrong company that night. The sky was darkening as he took to the streets having been thrown out of his home -again. At least his car was running this week. He would find a spot to park for the night and try to mend things with his wife in the morning. At least, he would go back to get some things while she was at work. Just as he was warming up the car, he noticed some kids walking down the street. They were hooded and appeared ominous in the way they shuffled along the curb in the waning light. It was one of those late afternoons when it suddenly feels like time somehow skipped several hours to land at ten o’clock at night. He noticed the boys stop briefly looking at something one of the boys pulled from a pocket. For just a second, one of the boys looked right at him before they started off again. Jack did not trust people very well and his autistic nature made him frozen as his brain spun in circles about what those boys were doing in the neighborhood. Was his family going to be safe? Just as they were about to round the corner, Jack was able to get the car into reverse and backed out of the driveway.

James was a high school dropout whose parents did not care what he did so long as he stayed out of their way. At just sixteen, he had hooked up with some other kids who lived on the streets and started running with them. They were nothing serious, but that night, Albert a tall thick headed boy who had already been in and out of foster homes and juvenile convinced the others that they would burglarize a house and sell the goods for some good drugs.

“I am not sure this is a good idea.” James said as Albert pulled a key to the backdoor of Hamilton’s who were close friends of his foster parents who were to look after things while the Hamilton’s were traveling.

“Don’t be such a switch! This will be easy – we don’t even have to break in since I have a key.” Albert intimidated the others, in part because of his size but also because of his brash arrogant behavior.

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In the above example, we have moved from the first person narrative with a preface and into a transition that lends to the development of a story told in third person omniscient.

Of course, these exchanges should be linked throughout the story to develop the plot and not get too distracted where the reader becomes confused. At the same, credit should be given to the reader to have the capacity to keep up.

I think it is just fine to mix the narrative so long as it is done properly and the safest way for this to transpire is through compartmentalizing the story with time blocks and chapters to move between the characters. For good form and keeping track of the plot line, a good approach is to outline the protagonist and antagonist. For example, there could be three characters that serve as protagonists, while there are elemental issues that become antagonist along with one or two main persons that are also antagonist. However, that puzzle fits, the important thing is listing and identifying the characters that will be most affected in the story and for whom the story is about since they are the main characters.

In this instance, it is ok for the preface to be told from one point of view in order to set the stage. In some cases, an epilog can be another place where the first person narrative comes back to close out the book and set things up for the next story where there are more than on like what could be found working in trilogies or book chronicles.

I am not completely certain how this will play out – but the methods are typical. The challenge is deciding and crafting it so that things have the proper pace and flow without losing coherency.

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