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Name for unusual narrative mode?


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#1 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9585

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 06:08 PM

What would you call a mode which includes a first person narrator, who addresses the main character in the second person, and both the narrator and the subject are clearly distinct from the audience?

 

(other than 'disturbing' - I appreciate that this is not a narrative mode to be taken lightly)

 

I swear I have read a book (or at least short story) written in this fashion, but I can't for the life of me put a name to that either.


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#2 Dragonsoulj   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2008

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 08:29 PM

Portal seems to fit this description. I'm interested to know what this would be considered.



#3 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9585

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Posted 08 December 2013 - 08:49 PM


Portal seems to fit this description. I'm interested to know what this would be considered.

I was struggling for examples, Portal is pretty close. Chell is a bit of a tricky one because as a silent protagonist with little backstory, I'm not sure how distinct a character she really is from the player for the majority of the game.


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#4 mdamman   Members   -  Reputation: 201

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 04:05 PM

I don't think that's any unusual term, just second person narrative.  If the narrator is talking in first person, they are explaining their own actions.  If they switch to second or third person, it just represents them as a separate character than the main who probably exists in the same world.  Take Bastion for example.  The narrator talks mostly about "The Kid" doing this and that, third person.  Then he occasionally delves into his own part in the story, first person.  Having the distinction just shows that the narrator is a real character in the story, rather than a disembodied voice for the reader/listener to take information from.

 

As second person narrative in general is very rare, I would say that Portal is your best example in a game.  GlaDOS speaks to "you" as Chell, not so much telling the story of what you're doing, but giving backstory and playing the part of a constantly present antagonist.  Though thinking about it, lots of first person shooters use this technique now, where different characters will radio in and talk to "you" about the world or things you've just done/are about to do.  Some other examples would be Borderlands or Half Life.



#5 Tom Sloper   Moderators   -  Reputation: 8647

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Posted 10 December 2013 - 06:49 PM

I don't think that's any unusual term, just second person narrative.


Agreed. The player is the first person. Both the narrator and the player's character are second persons.
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#6 LorenzoGatti   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 2511

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 04:51 AM

Just a dialogue between two characters; calling the one who does most of the talking a "narrator" is a stretch, as a narrator is supposed to address the audience rather than other characters. Use of first and second person isn't very meaningful, as it's the natural pattern of any dialogue.
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#7 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9585

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 07:13 AM

Just a dialogue between two characters; calling the one who does most of the talking a "narrator" is a stretch, as a narrator is supposed to address the audience rather than other characters.

 

So I perhaps haven't described it in completeness, and the portal example is misleading because video games don't have quite a traditional narrator.

 

In particular, the narrator is narrating in the traditional sense: directly describing the actions and emotions of the main character in the second person, while also describing their own actions/emotions in the first person. That's the bit that is confusing me - it's a first person narration or a 2nd person narrative, or some such...

 

For example:

You took the phone call, though you knew the risks as well as anyone. "It'll be all right" you said as the click of the phone receiver stretched into silence, but I knew that you were lying.


Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#8 ambershee   Members   -  Reputation: 524

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Posted 11 December 2013 - 07:29 AM

Your example is exactly what would be described as a second-person narrative mode.

  • First person is from your perspective; I did this and that.
  • Second person is when you are told what is happening to you by another person or a narrator; You did this and that.
  • Third person is when you are told what is happening to someone else; He/She did this and that.

 

There are also different types of narrative voice (subjective, objective, omniscient, conscious, epistolary/fictional etc). Lastly, there's narrative tense which I suspect rather interestingly is more applicable to games than it is to literature - past, present, historic present or even future tense.

 

 

I'd describe Portal as using an unreliable second person narrative that uses historic present and future tense. These are all established terminologies, so you should be able to find plenty of reading material along these lines :)


Edited by ambershee, 11 December 2013 - 07:31 AM.


#9 Gedalya   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 08:00 AM

First and for most, nearly every person who has responded to this post as only made the situation worse, lol.

 

First Person: "I"

Second Person: "You"

Third Person: "They"

 

That's viewpoint 101, lol

 

Secondly, The narrator. . . ? as in? the person who is describing the actions of the character? is the character the player? I'm confused, you should have used actually terminology to distinquish who is who, and what they do within the context of the story.

If the player's character resolves the problem of the game's story, they are the hero.

The main character, is the person involved intimately, as the one most described.

Frodo was the ringbearer, but WAS NOT THE MAIN CHARACTER. The MAIN CHARACTER was the ring itself.

Look, in Star Wars. . . Darth Vader was the main character, and Luke was the hero. It was about the evolution of Darth Vader as a character, while Luke resolved the conflict of the main character, which was the main character changing from good guy to bad guy. That was the whole story.

In this case, I'm going to quote game design: "if your story can't be described in one sentence, it's too complex."

 

Your example is exactly what would be described as a second-person narrative mode.

  • First person is from your perspective; I did this and that.
  • Second person is when you are told what is happening to you by another person or a narrator; You did this and that.
  • Third person is when you are told what is happening to someone else; He/She did this and that.

 

There are also different types of narrative voice (subjective, objective, omniscient, conscious, epistolary/fictional etc). Lastly, there's narrative tense which I suspect rather interestingly is more applicable to games than it is to literature - past, present, historic present or even future tense.

 

 

I'd describe Portal as using an unreliable second person narrative that uses historic present and future tense. These are all established terminologies, so you should be able to find plenty of reading material along these lines smile.png

See? someone has done their homework, lol. It's about definition and you didn't describe enough, to even remotely offer anyone a way of helping. A true narrative technique in't VIEWPOINT, it is when you arrange the way scenes are involved. i,.e. , Beginning with a flashback, is one example. This whole post, should just be destroyed lol

 

^^^ epistolary: when a letter describes a story.

omniescient, this is knowing what is happening at any given time in the plot,

sigma characters, describing more than one character and their emotions, while their emotions are not described when these characters are together.

subjective is when the main character is the only character whose emotions are described.

stream-of-consciousness, when the main character's thoughts describe the story as they happen in scene, i,.e a soliloqouy

And, I've never even heard of narrative tense, and I write literature for a living, lol

 

I think what you are trying to say, is episodic. When the story is told in methods using episodes, lol

I'm just going to write an article or something on the whole nature of writing a story, because this stuff is pretty basic lol

If you guys don't know this stuff, how on earth do you plan on writing an actualy story?????


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#10 Gedalya   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 08:08 AM

Also, why would you even write a narrator that converses to the main character in second person?

why are they seperated from the audience?

It's not even plausible to execute, if the narrator isn't involved in the game.

It's like Omniescient, the narrator is playing god.

Except in your version, it goes as follows:

 

"Main character, You are jumping up and down" <<<< what role does the narrator provide???? that's too distracting for a gamer to even both with, they are trying to play a game with an anonymous voice speaking to the main character, who I'm not sure is the player. .. if they are not the player, the entire premise won't work.

I mean, would you play a game where a random voice describes the actions of another character to that character, while your character is trying to get through a level? it makes no sense at all.

 

You shouldn't tell ANYTHING, you should show it< that's why it's a visual medium lol.


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#11 Gedalya   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 08:12 AM


You took the phone call, though you knew the risks as well as anyone. "It'll be all right" you said as the click of the phone receiver stretched into silence, but I knew that you were lying.

 

I'm not going to bash on you. . . but, why would a character stop in their life and say this? it sounds to me like you need to work out your charaterization better.

A character, wouldn't say this , "as the click of the phone reciever stretched into silence" that's too verbose, lol it WOULD work as,

"You took the phone call, although you knew the risks as well anyone. 'It'll be alright' you said, but I knew you were lying." and that's more of a dialogue exchange, in which the other character, who the dialogue is directed to doesn't respond. LOLOLOL


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#12 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9585

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 08:12 AM


It's not even plausible to execute, if the narrator isn't involved in the game.

I probably should have clarified that I didn't have a game in mind when I asked the question. It's a literary construct, which as you say, probably doesn't translate well to a game.

 

(actually, had you read my initial post, I think it is fairly clear that this was asked in the context of a short story)


Edited by swiftcoder, 31 December 2013 - 08:13 AM.

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#13 Gedalya   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 08:35 AM

I did read it, I'm trying to help clarify the issue, bc ^^^ nobody else has even tried to help, they just lobbied with you that it was weird. I write short stories, send them off, get paid. So, I can offer you help. . .

The problem is your characterization, and the usage of the wrong terms to describe things. lol

I'm really not trying to bash, but the ignorance of story design is seriously offensive to me, lol

But, in terms of a short story. . . I would need more information, nothing as far as specifics of things, just generalities.

How long is the story? is the story based on problem/resolution, linear?, mystery/revelation? I just don't understand why you would try a viewpoint like this? lol

 

Is this for a short story market?

P.s, lol sorry about being a douche in respect of the game part. . . I must've misread that bit.


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#14 Gedalya   Members   -  Reputation: 119

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 08:46 AM

If you need any help with something like this, please. . . Come to me, and  dont attempt the forums. Lol obviously, nobody else could offer concrete advice.  By the way, dont post your story ANYWHERE. No not bc of idea theives, but bc of reasons pertaining to the literary market. Your material would be considered previously published, and if you sent it to a publisher on the premise that it hadnt been published before, and they handle stories that are original stories only, should they discover otherwise and accept your story, it could turn out bad. . . 


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#15 rip-off   Moderators   -  Reputation: 7650

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Posted 31 December 2013 - 10:37 AM


I swear I have read a book (or at least short story) written in this fashion, but I can't for the life of me put a name to that either.

Reminds me of A Song of Stone by Iain Banks. The male narrator sometimes describes what is happening to him directly, but also talks to the reader, you, (his female lover).

 

An odd read.


Edited by rip-off, 31 December 2013 - 10:38 AM.





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