I’m trying to figure out how to make my three first-person narrators sound like three different people. Maybe typing out some of my thoughts will help:
What do they each sound like when they talk? Who uses more long, rambling sentences or more short ones?
Who are they each telling this story to and why?
Which of them tends to look beneath the surface of his or her own motivations? What about others’ motivations?
What things interest each of them most? How does this govern what details they notice in the world?
What sense(s) do they each rely on most? Or rather, what stimulants are they each most sensitive to?
Who/what do they each believe is or should be in control of the world (God, nature, herself/himself, other people)?
How would they each define themselves? How does this color their perceptions of others?
How do any or all of the above answers change as they mature in the course of the story?
What markers (themes, repeated words, etc.) can I use for each narrator to clue readers in quickly when I switch? Sometimes a chapter break doesn’t seem to be enough on its own.
I think if I can answer these questions for each narrator, I’ll be a lot further toward distinct voices than I am now.
What are your thoughts? How do you deal with multiple narrators within the same story?
“Concrete” is the opposite of “abstract.” It’s also a hard, durable substance that can be used to make foundations, walls, roads, etc.
The story I’m currently rewriting involves a lot of emotion. The main characters each have a magical ability to sense the feelings of other people or creatures they are bound to. One thing I’m trying to do as I rewrite is make the emotions real to readers.
My friend Oddstuffs is very good at this. When she’s published and you can all read her work, watch for this. She has a unique knack for describing emotions in visceral terms that grab you by the front of your shirt and make you pay attention.
So instead of writing something like, I could sense Chayña’s disappointment, I say, I felt the chill of her disappointment, adding in a term you can reach out and feel. But even better is when I can link the feeling to a visceral sensation both my main character and readers associate with the emotion, often with a simile or metaphor. I felt the chill of her disappointment–like icy water sliding down my throat.
Personifying emotions is another tactic to sprinkle into a story. I could write about how rage clawed at the inside of my chest, or somesuch, rather than simply stating I was enraged.
These kinds of concrete descriptions are extra fun when the text is read aloud. They add a lot of life to a narrative, and can make it more memorable. They’re durable (like concrete).
Magic Circle by John William Waterhouse
Every magical ability has an effect on the world. This is a principle I’m working to follow as I rewrite Featherfolk. My main magic system consists of special powers granted by spirits. The availability and breadth of different powers alters the setting and plot, but that’s the way it should be.
The poster child for what I’m talking about is teleportation. If characters in a fantasy story can teleport magically from place to place, why would they rely on x for sending messages, and why didn’t they use teleportation when event y or z occurred? Why do social problems a, b, and c still exist? Even with limitations on when or where or which characters can teleport, it’s hard to catch all these and keep things consistent.
I tend to shy away from teleportation, because it gives me a headache to pin down all the effects such a power would have on economics, politics, warfare, etc, but I still have to be careful with the powers I grant my characters.
Have any of you had to re-work a magic system to match a setting or vice versa?
I spent a lot of yesterday playing around with maps. For research purposes of course.
Did you know you can walk around at ground level in Google Earth? It’s far easier to control than the flying simulator, and looks just as cool.
Anyway, lots of pieces have fallen into place for ways I want to rework the magic systems, setting, and pacing of Featherfolk. There will be more research to do as I go along, but I’m to a point where I can start. Today I tackle chapter one.
I’ll be doing my best to finish the second draft before November, so that I don’t have to take a break of indeterminate length in the middle of the draft while I figure out how to care for a newborn.
Now go play with Google Earth. I dare you.
Remember what I said at the beginning of the month, about going back to finish Gwen’s story?
Well, I decided it’s not the right time yet–for a number of reasons.
I’m going to rewrite Featherfolk instead. The plot is solid. I forsee mostly tweaking the cultures and magic systems, fixing character inconsistencies, and addressing pacing/POV issues, but we’ll see what else comes up as I re-read the whole draft.
I’ll give myself part of August to research and plan, then spend September and likely October rewriting. I definitely want to have the second draft finished before our baby arrives in November.