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First Person and Third Person query:

 1 Wolf 1066, Mon, 28th Jan '13 7:34:14 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
One of the issues I have when I'm working on a First Person narrative is in the portrayal of the narrator's witty dialogue.

To me, having something that runs along the lines of "he said something and I said something witty then he said something witty and we laughed" (with the appropriate dialogue, not just like that) comes off as the narrator, as an active participant in the scene, "blowing his own trumpet" while in third person, the narrator is merely reporting on what others are saying.

As an example:

I looked back at the bar we'd just left, glad that we'd managed to make it out without getting into a fight.

"That was close, " said David. "I didn't like the way they were looking at us."

"Yeah, " I said, "they were giving us some very defecatory looks."

"You mean deprecatory looks, " said David.

"Nah, " I said, "those were some seriously shitty looks."

compared with

Bill looked back at the bar they'd just left, glad to have made it out without getting into a fight.

"That was close, " said David. "I didn't like the way they were looking at us."

"Yeah, " said Bill, "they were giving us some very defecatory looks."

"You mean deprecatory looks, " said David.

"Nah, " said Bill, "those were some seriously shitty looks."

To my mind the first example seems like the narrator is bragging about his humour while in the second, even though Bill is the viewpoint character, it seems more balanced.

Does anyone else have a similar feeling when working with or reading FP narratives?

edited 28th Jan '13 7:34:44 PM by Wolf1066

Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 2 Morwen Edhelwen, Tue, 29th Jan '13 2:52:53 PM from Sydney, Australia
Tolkien freak
I don't, but I can see why other people might.
The road goes ever on. -Tolkien
 3 Madrugada, Tue, 29th Jan '13 3:06:51 PM Relationship Status: In season
Zzzzzzzzzz
I don't see anything in the first one that makes me think the narrator is 'blowing his own horn'. "I said" is no more bragging that "Bill said". Now, if in the first-person one you had used something other than "said"; "I snarked" or "I laughed" or "I joked", then you've got the narrator underlining that he thinks what he said is witty or funny. But even that is really no different than the author using the same words in third-person to underline that he thinks what he wrote is funny or witty.

edited 29th Jan '13 3:07:41 PM by Madrugada

...if you don’t love you’re dead, and if you do, they’ll kill you for it.
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Of course, don't forget that the narrator doesn't have to be perfect, or even nice. If he sounds a bit too pleased with himself, see if you can use it and work it into the story.
Freedom of speech includes the freedom for other people to call you out on your bullshit.
 5 Wolf 1066, Tue, 29th Jan '13 6:59:16 PM from New Zealand Relationship Status: In my bunk
Wolf1066
Thanks for those insights, folks.

Especially the bit about I/he said cf I/he laughed/joked/etc, Maddy.

Good point about its use as a possible character flaw, Iaculus.
Dangerously Genre Savvy since ages ago...
 6 Tiamatty, Mon, 4th Feb '13 3:38:28 PM Relationship Status: Brony
Bieber My Balls
It occurs to me: Of course he's gloating about his cleverness. That's what people do. We're always funnier in our memories. When we tell each other stories, we don't talk about the stuff we said that wasn't funny. We talk about the stuff that was.

The words he uses when talking about the things he did are what really give insight into the kind of person he is. And, of course, other things throughout the story will give an indication of whether something he says is meant to be boastful or just a "here's what happened" thing.
 7 tsstevens, Mon, 4th Feb '13 10:40:21 PM from Internet, Tasmania Relationship Status: She's holding a very large knife
Researcher
Have a look at the Rogue Warrior novels some time where you can see that the author not only has an ego that's a small moon in Uwe Boll's egomaniac universe, some of it is genuinely very funny and you can pick up tips on what to do and more to the point with your concerns on the concept what not to do. Marcinko paints himself as the greatest soldier who ever lived, accurate maybe but certainly egotistical. By the same token he is witty, the books come alive and are not the dry, dull approach they could have been. If you're looking at him as an example of witty first person writing then I might try and filter out him stroking his ego from what is funny.
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Total posts: 7
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