Narration

Advice and thoughts on narrating to best effect.

Formatting Character Thoughts

Is it better to format character thoughts with quote marks or italics? I say neither.

Is it better to format character thoughts with quote marks or italics? I say neither. No special formatting is necessary to signify character thinking. You just need some solid narration.

How to Create Story Momentum

A story with momentum makes me want to know what’s going to happen next, and makes me care about the characters, objectives, conflicts, and action.

Author, Narrator, Character

There is a distinction between author, narrator, and character.

The author creates the story.

The narrator tells the story.

The character lives the story.

These are three distinct entities, which exist on different planes.

12 Ways to Be an Invisible Writer

Once the author becomes visible, the enchantment of the story dissolves. The author is the creator of a story, but the author should never be a part of the story. The author is the man behind the curtain. Reveal the man behind the curtain and the Wizard of Oz narrative dies. What sorts of things reveal the author? Here are 12.

Action vs. Information: Convey Info without Stalling the Story

Information conveys states of mind, states of existence, but not states of affairs (unless you’re dramatizing the past via a flashback, but that’s not conveying the present-time story state of affairs). But if your information (facts, past, interiority, context) is not relevant to the story’s state of affairs, your reader is going to tune it out—or worse, come to distrust your narration.

Juggle External Action and Interiority

External refers to what’s happening outside of characters’ minds. It’s the stuff that an observer could see. You could film it pretty easily. Internal refers to what’s going on inside a character’s head: feelings and thoughts. Prose storytelling regularly informs us of characters’ interiority in ways that, say, a screenplay cannot.

Time Digressions in Narration

So, first of all, it’s worth noting that most of the story’s momentum comes from the “What’s going to happen next?” question, and that’s a question that arises from present-time story. Most of the story’s meaning, however, arises from the time digressions.

Scene vs. Summary

I introduced this concept of scenes vs. summary in my post on the four ways to break down page-level craft. Here, in more detail, is what scene vs. summary is all about. And I’ve included some explanation on how the story writer can benefit from knowing this aspect of craft.

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