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Trek Literature "...Good words. That's where ideas begin."

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Old September 21 2013, 04:56 PM   #31
Kinokima
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Re: First-person narratives

^ Even though I am sort of "defending" first person it isn't necessarily my favorite type of book to read either. I think a lot of times first person is strangely enough weak on characterization.

For example I just read The Forever Wars, which is a great book and excels in its plot but its weak (in my opinion) in terms of characters.

I think first person works best when there is something unique about that first person perspective. As I mentioned before when the narrator is unreliable. I also tend to like it when the first person is focusing on another character (Watson>>>Holmes)

I am not really sure if I would like it for Trek literature or not (although I have read some Trek fanfic in the first person which I enjoyed). Of course what I read in terms of Trek lit is very selective in the first place.

But I am thinking a Trek novel maybe told from the perspective of an Ensign can be interesting (and that way you could also still probably incorporate all the main characters).
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Old September 21 2013, 05:08 PM   #32
Greg Cox
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Re: First-person narratives

And though I'm "defending" third-person, I should make it clear that I personally dislike writing first-person, not reading it!

Case in point: I really enjoyed Dan Wells' I Am Not a Serial Killer and its sequels, which (as the title implies) are written in first-person from the POV of a teenage boy who is trying very hard not to become a serial killer--despite definite tendencies in that direction. Since the books are, to a large part, all about him wrestling with his own inner demons, it makes sense that you would want to be inside his head the whole book--since that's where most of the conflict is!
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Old September 21 2013, 05:14 PM   #33
Christopher
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Re: First-person narratives

Kinokima wrote: View Post
But I am thinking a Trek novel maybe told from the perspective of an Ensign can be interesting (and that way you could also still probably incorporate all the main characters).
That's basically what Dreadnought! and Battlestations! were -- TOS told from the first-person perspective of a lieutenant in the Enterprise crew, sort of a proto-"Lower Decks."
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Old September 22 2013, 01:10 AM   #34
Tiberius
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Re: First-person narratives

Christopher wrote: View Post
Tiberius wrote: View Post
All you have to do is write, "I walked onto the bridge" instead of "Kirk walked onto the bridge."
If you're doing multiple first-person POVs, that's not all you have to do. You also have to establish right up front that you've changed to a new character's viewpoint, so you don't confuse the audience. Say, for instance, you've just been in Spock's POV and you switch to Kirk's. You'd have to make sure the first sentence was something like "I walked onto the bridge, tugging the hem of my gold command tunic, and turned to Spock." But that can quickly get awkward. As Greg said, it's not something that should be attempted unless you're experienced. And the potential advantages of it are elusive. It's easy enough to get into multiple viewpoints from an omniscient third-person perspective, since you can still eavesdrop on your viewpoint character's thoughts; and there you have the advantage of using the character's name rather than just "I," so it's clear to the reader who the viewpoint character is. So why not just use that? Multiple first-person viewpoints seems more like a gimmick than something that would really be useful to a story. The only value I can see for it is in an overtly epistolary narrative like Dracula.
It's not awkward. Chapters titled with the name of the person who's experiencing it. The chapter from Kirk's POV is called Chapter 1: Kirk. Then Chapter 2: Spock. Chapter 3: Scotty. Et cetera.

I do agree though - first person has it's places, and doesn't work for everything.
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Old September 22 2013, 01:51 AM   #35
Greg Cox
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Re: First-person narratives

Tiberius wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post
Tiberius wrote: View Post
All you have to do is write, "I walked onto the bridge" instead of "Kirk walked onto the bridge."
If you're doing multiple first-person POVs, that's not all you have to do. You also have to establish right up front that you've changed to a new character's viewpoint, so you don't confuse the audience. Say, for instance, you've just been in Spock's POV and you switch to Kirk's. You'd have to make sure the first sentence was something like "I walked onto the bridge, tugging the hem of my gold command tunic, and turned to Spock." But that can quickly get awkward. As Greg said, it's not something that should be attempted unless you're experienced. And the potential advantages of it are elusive. It's easy enough to get into multiple viewpoints from an omniscient third-person perspective, since you can still eavesdrop on your viewpoint character's thoughts; and there you have the advantage of using the character's name rather than just "I," so it's clear to the reader who the viewpoint character is. So why not just use that? Multiple first-person viewpoints seems more like a gimmick than something that would really be useful to a story. The only value I can see for it is in an overtly epistolary narrative like Dracula.
It's not awkward. Chapters titled with the name of the person who's experiencing it. The chapter from Kirk's POV is called Chapter 1: Kirk. Then Chapter 2: Spock. Chapter 3: Scotty. Et cetera.

I do agree though - first person has it's places, and doesn't work for everything.
The question is, what do you gain from doing that--aside from the novelty of it? First-person indeed has its uses, but if third-person would work just as well . . . and without the need for chapter headings . . . ?
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Old September 22 2013, 01:54 AM   #36
Christopher
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Re: First-person narratives

Tiberius wrote: View Post
It's not awkward. Chapters titled with the name of the person who's experiencing it. The chapter from Kirk's POV is called Chapter 1: Kirk. Then Chapter 2: Spock. Chapter 3: Scotty. Et cetera.
Actually that does strike me as a little awkward. I mean, it's been done, but it's a little... self-conscious, it seems.

The thing is, just talking about it as a device out of context, it can't help but feel contrived. It's the wrong way of approaching the question. You don't start with a device and then concoct an excuse for using it. You start with the story and use whatever storytelling mode works for it. If the story needs to be told in alternating first-person chapters headed by the characters' names, then it wouldn't feel awkward (probably). Otherwise, it just feels like an imposition.
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Old September 22 2013, 02:16 AM   #37
JD
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Re: First-person narratives

One of the things I like best about first person stories, is that you tend to get a lot more of the character's voice and personality in the narrative.
You can get that some with some third person stories, but not to the same extent that you do with first person.
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Old September 22 2013, 02:56 AM   #38
Greg Cox
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Re: First-person narratives

Christopher wrote: View Post
Tiberius wrote: View Post
It's not awkward. Chapters titled with the name of the person who's experiencing it. The chapter from Kirk's POV is called Chapter 1: Kirk. Then Chapter 2: Spock. Chapter 3: Scotty. Et cetera.
Actually that does strike me as a little awkward. I mean, it's been done, but it's a little... self-conscious, it seems.

The thing is, just talking about it as a device out of context, it can't help but feel contrived. It's the wrong way of approaching the question. You don't start with a device and then concoct an excuse for using it. You start with the story and use whatever storytelling mode works for it. If the story needs to be told in alternating first-person chapters headed by the characters' names, then it wouldn't feel awkward (probably). Otherwise, it just feels like an imposition.
Exactly. It's all about using the right tool in the toolbox. Sure, you can conceivably use a screwdriver as a hammer, but most of the time it's easier just to use a hammer!
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Old September 22 2013, 06:52 AM   #39
Tiberius
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Re: First-person narratives

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Tiberius wrote: View Post
Christopher wrote: View Post

If you're doing multiple first-person POVs, that's not all you have to do. You also have to establish right up front that you've changed to a new character's viewpoint, so you don't confuse the audience. Say, for instance, you've just been in Spock's POV and you switch to Kirk's. You'd have to make sure the first sentence was something like "I walked onto the bridge, tugging the hem of my gold command tunic, and turned to Spock." But that can quickly get awkward. As Greg said, it's not something that should be attempted unless you're experienced. And the potential advantages of it are elusive. It's easy enough to get into multiple viewpoints from an omniscient third-person perspective, since you can still eavesdrop on your viewpoint character's thoughts; and there you have the advantage of using the character's name rather than just "I," so it's clear to the reader who the viewpoint character is. So why not just use that? Multiple first-person viewpoints seems more like a gimmick than something that would really be useful to a story. The only value I can see for it is in an overtly epistolary narrative like Dracula.
It's not awkward. Chapters titled with the name of the person who's experiencing it. The chapter from Kirk's POV is called Chapter 1: Kirk. Then Chapter 2: Spock. Chapter 3: Scotty. Et cetera.

I do agree though - first person has it's places, and doesn't work for everything.
The question is, what do you gain from doing that--aside from the novelty of it? First-person indeed has its uses, but if third-person would work just as well . . . and without the need for chapter headings . . . ?
I agree with that. First person will be just a style choice. I can't imagine a story that can be told using first person that can't be told using limited third person (like the Harry Potter series).
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Old September 22 2013, 06:55 AM   #40
Tiberius
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Re: First-person narratives

Christopher wrote: View Post
Tiberius wrote: View Post
It's not awkward. Chapters titled with the name of the person who's experiencing it. The chapter from Kirk's POV is called Chapter 1: Kirk. Then Chapter 2: Spock. Chapter 3: Scotty. Et cetera.
Actually that does strike me as a little awkward. I mean, it's been done, but it's a little... self-conscious, it seems.

The thing is, just talking about it as a device out of context, it can't help but feel contrived. It's the wrong way of approaching the question. You don't start with a device and then concoct an excuse for using it. You start with the story and use whatever storytelling mode works for it. If the story needs to be told in alternating first-person chapters headed by the characters' names, then it wouldn't feel awkward (probably). Otherwise, it just feels like an imposition.
Sounds like you're agreeing with me. It just seems awkward to you because it's taken as a device out of context. By your own admission, if there was a story that suited the "Chapter 1: Kirk" style, then it would be perfectly reasonable and not awkward at all.
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Old September 22 2013, 01:11 PM   #41
Christopher
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Re: First-person narratives

^Yes, but the point is, just saying "It's not awkward" as a blanket statement doesn't fly for me because whether or not it's awkward depends on whether there's a valid reason for it. My thinking is that it would be awkward except in a narrow set of circumstances.
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Old September 22 2013, 01:52 PM   #42
Tiberius
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Re: First-person narratives

Well, granting that ANYTHING is awkward if it is used poorly, I think it's safe to say that the unsaid "...if used when the situation calls for it" went without saying at the end of my claim that first person isn't awkward.
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Old September 22 2013, 09:52 PM   #43
Allyn Gibson
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Re: First-person narratives

JD wrote: View Post
I've been reading a lot of Urban Fantasy lately, and most of them are in first person, and I've been really liking it.
I don't normally read a lot under the Urban Fantasy umbrella, but a few years ago I did read one. There was a book I saw on the shelf, I thought the back cover blurb sounded interesting (and some of the premise hit on some interests of mine), so I picked it up.

First person present tense.

I didn't like that, but I accepted it as a valid creative choice the novelist had made.

And then the first sex scene happened.

And my brain went, "What. The. Fuck."

It was an Urban Fantasy, so obviously the protagonist is a twentysomething female. I asked myself, "Who is she telling this story to? Why would she go into this much detail about this and that and this with that person?" Because, here's the thing. The character was, upfront, a con artist who kept things about herself private for Mysterious Reasons(TM), so who could she possibly be telling this story to, in this much detail, including the sex scenes?

Yes, there were more than one.

And this wasn't a first novel. This was a seventh or eighth novel from the novelist. From a major New York publisher. I couldn't imagine how the editor didn't say, "Your POV choices are sabotaging your story." There was a good story underneath, but first person was the wrong way to tell it in this particular case.
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Old September 22 2013, 10:13 PM   #44
Stevil2001
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Re: First-person narratives

I don't believe that every first-person story implies someone is actually telling the story to someone else (As I Lay Dying would make absolutely no sense in that case) any more than I believe that every third-person story means someone out there can read anyone's mind at will.
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Old September 22 2013, 10:23 PM   #45
Christopher
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Re: First-person narratives

^Fair point. Although a lot of first-person stories are presented as someone's actual written or narrated account.
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