One of the first things you notice when you begin a novel is the narrative style, which some may refer to as writing style or narrative structure.
I dislike a story told in the first person e.g. I went to the supermarket to buy tins of tomatoes but as the shelves were empty, I left without getting anything. Even more, I have a strong distaste for present tense which many contemporary authors, especially crime fiction, now seem to prefer. For example, I go to the supermarket… I leave without...
I read a novel recently where there the narrative style consisted of two narrators, each told in first person, present tense. It drove me mad, as on occasion, I had to check which character was telling the story. Not for me.
I have a preference for third party point of view, past tense and multiple POVs throughout the story, with a single POV per chapter. I keep chapters short. In “Lasting Scars” several chapters are less than one page, much like a scene in a movie.
Further, I am a three act, hero’s journey kind of writer, where the plot unfolds in linear fashion. Although, I am considering a non linear narrative style for “Five Dead in Richmond” on the advice of my editor. We shall see!
I am not saying first person, present tense is wrong, or that one should disregard a novel for that reason, far from it. It’s just my preference. At least my CURRENT preference.
There are advantages to each narrative style, and a good story can be told in many ways but I like to think in terms of movies and how movies unfold in general – although there exceptions to everything.
I like the approach Quentin Tarantino uses in some of his movies – if I can bend the term narrative style a little to narrative structure – where he shows the same scene from several different view points. For example, the scene in the department store during Jackie Brown and also in Pulp Fiction where several scenes are show from different POVs. The non linear structure works brilliantly too!
I do like the idea of exploring a scene from several perspectives. I guess I’ll have to find a way to incorporate it into a future novel, in a manner that suits the story I will tell.
Until next time.