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Rev. Austin
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« on: July 15, 2009, 09:32:41 AM »

Is it just me, or is this narrative form the red-headed stepchild of modern storytelling techniques?  In my travels I've stumbled upon quite a few zines/sites that don't want these types of stories - is there any particular reason they're unpopular?  Are they maybe considered a 'lazy' method?  Or am I hideously off-target and they're actually usually well-received?

edit: I don't mean first person accounts wherein the narrator dies (I've just read through that thread below), but 'normal' ones ie "I'm telling you a story blah blah blah no-one really talks in this account because I'm telling you what they said blah blah blah"
« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 09:39:14 AM by Rev. Austin » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2009, 11:08:04 AM »

You've just answered your own question. It's necessarily all 'tell' rather than a nice balance of show and tell. Definitely dodgy. Unlikely to work.

Mind, I did one like that for the Whittaker Contest and got away with it. I wrote it as if I were the narrator on an instructional video, so it really had to be written in 'first person tell' or whatever you'd call it.
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« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2009, 11:22:51 AM »

Hmmm I suppose I did  grin  but what if you manage to show *and* tell?  Y'know, drip feed the info eg My dog exploded.  This is what happened...
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« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2009, 11:56:33 AM »

Don't have a problem with first person meself. I've won three prizes  in reasonably significant literary competitions with first person stories. But then that's litrachure for you ...

But seriously, the trick is to make the first person less than omniscient - unreliable even. That way, you're less likely to fall into the tell trap.
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« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2009, 12:32:16 PM »

I don't like them as a rule, but have accepted at least a dozen of them in the last year because the writer made it work. 1st person where the protagonist dies at the end just irritates me.
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« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2009, 01:01:49 PM »

Funnily enough, when I write in the first person (which I don't do very often), I tend to do better, on average, than at other times.

Go figure!

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« Last Edit: July 15, 2009, 01:28:01 PM by desertwomble » Logged

Ed
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« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2009, 01:08:54 PM »

First person narrative isn't necessarily 'tell' any more than any other narrative form. The only reason it's unpopular with some editors is because it's the form a lot of beginners use and they do it badly. Each line beginning with 'I', a less than engaging voice, etc. Done well, it's not much different from a close third person limited with an overt narrator. Indistinguishable in some instances.
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« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2009, 01:28:21 PM »

Is it just me, or is this narrative form the red-headed stepchild of modern storytelling techniques?  In my travels I've stumbled upon quite a few zines/sites that don't want these types of stories - is there any particular reason they're unpopular?  Are they maybe considered a 'lazy' method?  Or am I hideously off-target and they're actually usually well-received?

Try James Patterson's "You've Been Warned"
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« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2009, 03:14:47 PM »

Is it a good example or a bad example?  Wink

From the other replies, I guess, like most things, whether or not first person accounts work is subjective.  Personally, if I ever write one I set the story in an older time frame (mainly because I *love* older language, eg 1940's) so *hopefully* that makes it engaging... If I've got a short enough one I might put that in for the crit...

I have read some pretty crap ones though, like you say Ed, where it's just 'I woke up and ate my weetabix.  I then had a shower.' etc
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« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2009, 03:25:00 PM »

I think first person is great. But then I'm a huge fan of the old hard-boiled detective novels of the 40's, 50's and 60's. Whether it's Raymond Chandler or James Lee Burke or James Cain or John MacDonald... Then I love the way Stephen King did it in The Body, which is head and shoulders above anything else he wrote, where he included some extra short stories, and I love the way Steinbeck does it in East of Eden - starting with the first person but pretty soon slipping the narrator way back into the distance. I'm sure if I went through my book shelves masses of my favourite novels would be in the first.

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« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2009, 04:46:40 PM »

mustn't have my stuff here, ed keeps it.
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« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2009, 05:29:04 PM »

My mum's a fan of Mr Patterson so I'm sure she's got a copy of You've Been Warned.  I shall give it a go once I'm finished with my current book!
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