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schizophrenic_ai's avatar

Savage Lover

Simply put, I want to have my narrator effectively present his story through multiple nontraditional means. This work is in prose format.



Narration through Poetry:

I plan to have my protagonist present the story through poetry when he is under the influence of recreational drugs. Poetry is known to be the most subjective form of literature, so I was hoping to get an emotive effect from the poetic form. My main goal is to have the reader experience intoxication with my protagonist. I am more of a short fiction writer than a poet, but I recently discovered "prose poetry."

My questions:
01 Prose poetry or "standard" poetry - which would be most effective in accomplishing my goal?
02 I want to study more on poetry before I delve into writing this- what do you recommend to help me?
03 Which poets are known for their prose poetry?
04 Do you know of any poetry related to drug use?




Narration through Images:

When my protagonist dreams I want to continue the narration through images. My reasoning for this is that dreams frequently transcend words. In the real world it is difficult to relate dreams. When one attempts to relate a dream there is always this incompleteness in its description. Most conversations boil down to a simple "you had to see it to believe it." I feel that the best way to portray the abstraction of dreams is through images that mimic the likeness of M.C. Escher's work and Surrealist art. These images will basically take on a comic form. My protagonist rarely dreams so the work will remain predominantly prose.

My questions:
05 Is this method too avant-garde? Does it seem excessive?
06 As always, I want to be as effective as possible- can you offer any insight on narration through images (do you have any experience creating manga/comics?)



Dual Narration:

Though it is unheard of, I will have two characters (my protagonist and my deuteragonist,00) narrating at the same time. To understand how I will attempt this, you must first understand the scenario-


The 2 Realms:

The "Existing" Realm: [ A "standard" reality/world where the majority of characters live and interact. ]

The Void: [ A vacuum beyond time and space, life and death, and infinity. The realm is the epitome of contradiction- technically it does not exist, yet it does. Those who come here become liminal beings- they exist definitely and indefinitely- they have been here forever and have existed elsewhere. While here they remain unseen and unheard spectators looking into their former world, but they can only focus on one individual. Liminal Beings are condemned to solitude in The Void. Many variants of the singular liminal being can exist in The Void, but they will all be the same person (You are forever with yourself -alone).


The 3 notable characters:

Protagonist [ Younger brother of 00 and 01. He is completely unaware of 00. He narrates in 1st person. He dual narrates with 00. ]

01 [ Older brother of Protagonist. He is the "existing" variant of 00. He can speak and interact with Protagonist. At some point he takes on the role of narrator (1st person), but NEVER dual narrates with Protagonist. ]

00 [ Older brother of Protagonist. He is a Void variant of 01 "existing" in The Void as a liminal being. He can NOT speak NOR interact with Protagonist or the "existing" realm. His voice is only known by the reader. He goes unnamed throughout the story, but his relation to Protagonist and 01 is heavily implied through 00's dialogue. He occasional dual narrates with Protagonist (mostly commentary). Narrates in:
-1st person (uses the pronoun "We" instead of "I" when referring to self, because he is also referring to 01 and the other variants in The Void. While in the Void he gives his personal insight on the events of the "existing" world.)
-2nd person (occasional breaks the fourth wall when addressing the reader.)
-3rd person limited (01 is technically another character, but 00 has omniscient knowledge about his counterpart, because they are/were the same person and he has been spectating for an indefinite amount of time. )



I am not sure what form this narrative method should take on. My goal is to achieve a form that allows 2 voices to be heard/read at the same time. This feels like a task that can only be accomplished through cinema, but I want to accomplish it through writing.
My Ideas:

-The whole story could be presented in script format with 00 presented similar to a chorus. My issue with this format is that it loses the intended 1st person perspective from the other characters.
-I could salvage the chorus idea and have the story presented in prose like originally intended. My issue is finding a way for 00 to narrate through Protagonist's intoxication (which takes on poetic form).
-The narrations could be presented one above the other. When one voice is louder I can have it physically overlapping the other's narration. Or I can present the weaker voice in a smaller font.
-I can differentiate between narrators by having their dialogue in different colors.
-If I present dreams through images I can have 00's narration presented like a detached and omniscient voice (similar to the boxed and bolded narration used in manga)

My questions:
07 Do you believe Prose is the best format to present this narrative form in? Would cinema or script be better?
08 What are your thoughts on salvaging the chorus? Can you recommend a solution to the intoxication dilemma?
09 Can you recommend any way to differentiate between narrators?
10 Do you know of any material that will help me to study up on this narrative method? (any similarities in structure will suffice)
11 Any comments? Any suggestions?
schizophrenic_ai's avatar

Savage Lover

New thoughts-

01/26/2013

Development of Narration with Character:

Like David Copperfield, this piece will begin at the beginning, therefore Protagonist as a child will be unable to properly relate his feelings, thoughts, and the events of the piece. As he grows, the quality of his narrative will improve. I plan to have 00 function as a supplementary narrator for the unreliable Protagonist. When Protagonist's narration (purposely) falls short, 00 will pave over his shortcomings. This narrative method will allow the reader to witness Protagonist's growth in age and maturity. 00 will be the principle narrator during Protagonist's youth. He will become more secondary as Protagonist matures.


My questions:
12 Can you refer me to any works that use this narrative style or something similar to this narrative style?
13 I have found that young narrators [Scout from "Gone with the Wind"] are often beyond the intelligence of other children- do you believe this to be a necessary method when using a child narrator?
14 Any thoughts/suggestions?



Possible Forms of Dual Narration:

Each narrator can relate the piece through each others text, similar to e.e. cummings' "Dying is Fine, but Death".
example

I threw my head down and (We hate watching this) put my nose and mouth into the silver and (sad,) splattered (degenerate s**t. We always scream,but) bag. (we can never do anything) I sucked it in (about it.) in huge gasps, until my (Why can't you help?) head became light and I dissolved with the world-


-I can try to write it in such a way that it can be read as one coherent narration, but with differing voices.
-It would be difficult having to read this for pages.
-I could transpose one's text when it overpowers the other's


Each narrator could have separate lines.
example
I threw my head down and put my nose and mouth into the silver splattered bag. I sucked it in in huge gasps, until my head
(We hate watching this sad, degenerate s**t. We always scream, but we can never do anything about it. Why can't you
became light and I dissolved with the world-
help?
)


-Could be difficult to read, but the trend should be obvious
-Different fonts would be most effective in this form

01/28/2013

Possible Forms of Dual Narration:

Lea Fealith
"You could, for example, have parallel narration on a single page or opposite pages in two columns, like this:"
example

This is the way
I'm not listening to what you say

I always said it would happen
because you're concerned for my life

but you never wanted to listen to me
but not my livelihood.


-clearly separates narrators


References-



Desi the fuzzy fluffhead

Crank -prose poetry with drug use
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close -narrative through images
The Weight of Silence -alternating POV chapter to chapter

"I don't like the color idea, because colors are obnoxious to read and printing wise that could get expensive."
"...overlap where the different narrators cover the same topic of event."
"Fonts could be used, or certain punctuation marks to set something off as well."



Lea Fealith

House of Leaves - parallel narration
Ulysses - modernist novel, stream of conscience narrative mode

Kita-Ysabell

House of Leaves
The Fifty Year Sword- color in narration, contemporary structure
Infinite Jest- incomprohensible?
Les Fleurs du Mal- Prose poetry, eroticism

-"..if you over-conceptualize a story idea, and rely too much on skills you don't have yet, it'll never get executed."
-"...you'll end up with a concept that's waaay to ambitious for the story you're trying to tell and the skills you have to execute it."
Desi the fuzzy fluffhead's avatar

Tipsy Prophet

schizophrenic_ai

You get notifications when anyone posts in a thread you've made. I'll quote you anyways.

I think the only thing nontraditional is that they would all be shoved in the same story. I think there's a whole series out with prose poetry and drugs. "Crank" is a big one.

And the pictures could work extremely well.
Non-fiction paperbacks with all the pictures in the center of the book, come to mind and, just a bit Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
...
The dual narration.... The closest I could think would be The Weight of Silence. It changes up it's POV, not line by line, but by chapter. Tenses also change, which is why I think it's a bit more interesting that your normal story that swaps.
There's also overlap where the different narrators cover the same topic of event.

The Dual Narration would be hard.
What you would have to do would be to set some kind of pattern that the reader could get use to and keep to that pattern. Don't underestimate the intelligence of the reader.
I don't like the color idea, because colors are obnoxious to read and printing wise that could get expensive. What I think would work best would be to really separate the voices. Makes them different from each other. They can speak differently, have a different rhythm.

Fonts could be used, or certain punctuation marks to set something off as well.

For the narration through the poetry, wouldn't it just be easy to set a piece of prose right in-between the lines?

What's your ultimate goal for this piece? Is this something that's going to be on the web, or is it something that's going to be a book (or e-book)?
schizophrenic_ai's avatar

Savage Lover

Desi the fuzzy fluffhead



Thank you. "Crank" is the perfect model. I will look into "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close"- it definitely looks like something that could inspire my writing. "The Weight of Silence's" narrative method sounds similar to William Faulkner's "The Sound and The Fury"- I believe Faulkner changes perspective each chapter. I believe that alternating narrators from chapter to chapter and having them cover the same events could work, but it doesn't project two voices at once. It would be difficult to hear them at the same time if one's voice was delayed for a couple of pages.

I love the idea of using a recognizable pattern to differentiate between narrators and using another font could also be extremely useful . You are right about the colors, it would be obnoxious and expensive considering I want the story to be presented as a book. e-books, I believe are inferior to physical copies. I considered a web novel, but I want this work to be something that I can carry with me and openly distribute.

I will make the differences in each narrator's voice as blunt as possible- One uses "we" as a personal pronoun and appears to be babbling nonsense, while the other is for the most part a self-conscience teen.

My problem with placing a piece of prose between lines of poetry comes from my belief that poetry emotive effect is accomplished through its rhythmic style- the prose in between would disrupt that. But I also don't know as much about poetry as a poet, so I can't say for sure. I will study into poetry before I write my intoxication sequences.

My ultimate goal is to bring my characters to life. Simply put, they are people who don't know the questions, but want the answers. The piece is meant to deal with humanistic values and mortality.
Lea Fealith's avatar

Amateur Capitalist

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If you haven't read house of leaves you'll want to check it out. It breaks a lot of rules.

You could, for example, have parallel narration on a single page or opposite pages in two columns, like this:

This is the way
I'm not listening to what you say

I always said it would happen
because you're concerned for my life

but you never wanted to listen to me
but not my livelihood.


Obviously one can make it better without gaia's formatting constraints. House of leaves uses a lot of color in narration.

I don't know much about psychedelic prose poetry but there are some good sections in Ulysses that plug into the thoughts of the POV characters and manipulate the prose to give it a strong sympathetic effect to what that character is feeling.
Kita-Ysabell's avatar

Distinct Conversationalist

First of all, you might be overthinking this. Your reasoning for the various sorts of formatting seems solid, but trust me, get some words on the page before you start calling anyone a "liminal being," or you'll end up with a concept that's waaay to ambitious for the story you're trying to tell and the skills you have to execute it. Not that it wouldn't be interesting to see, or that you shouldn't aim high, but trust me, if you over-conceptualize a story idea, and rely too much on skills you don't have yet, it'll never get executed.

As far as references, Mark Z. Danielewski's House of Leaves and The Fifty Year Sword both use really unusual formatting, David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest is a good starting point for things that are completely incomprehensible, (or mostly so, anyways) I'd say as far as poetry goes, you should definitely be familiar with T. S. Eliot and e e cummings. There's also a prose poem translation of Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal, but I found the line breaks to actually be rather significant, and I could in fact still find them, so I'm not sure what that's worth.
schizophrenic_ai's avatar

Savage Lover

Lea Fealith


The title House of Leaves has come up multiple times- I'll be sure to check into it. The parallel narration looks beautiful. The formatting almost looks like it was made for dual narrating. About House of Leaves' color in narration- was it obnoxious/difficult to read because of the coloring? What was the purpose of the coloring in the novel?

Ulysses will be an awesome learning experience. I have an obligation to read it. Thank you.
schizophrenic_ai's avatar

Savage Lover

Kita-Ysabell



I understand exactly what you mean- that is why I am looking for references to emulate until I get it down. There will be plenty of practice along the way. The hardest part of writing is getting beyond planning and actually beginning to write. Wish me luck.

Mark Z. Danielewski's works are at the top of my list to read. His writing style really fits my intentions, so I would truly benefit from his example. Can you expand on what you mean by "incomprehensible? I looked into Infinite Jest and it seems like a novel that has a lot going on at once. Eliot and cummings are already my idols, despite my ignorance of poetry. I looked into Les Fleurs du Mal and it seems to share common themes with my piece.
Kita-Ysabell's avatar

Distinct Conversationalist

schizophrenic_ai
I understand exactly what you mean- that is why I am looking for references to emulate until I get it down. There will be plenty of practice along the way. The hardest part of writing is getting beyond planning and actually beginning to write. Wish me luck.


I think I'd encourage you to start writing the more... traditional sections, even before you're entirely sure where the boundaries of those lie, because it will help you to engage in the story and its execution in a way completely different from thinking or reading will. Though this is just me and my experience, you might have a different method that works for you.

schizophrenic_ai
Can you expand on what you mean by "incomprehensible? I looked into Infinite Jest and it seems like a novel that has a lot going on at once.
"Incomprehensible" was a bit... snarky. It isn't really, I think the words I'm really looking for are "challenging" and "dense." You've got altered consciousness on top of a nonlinear storytelling approach on top of a huge helping of future-speak on top of SO MANY ENDNOTES, all wrapped up in several other literary conceits per chapter and to top it off, the book's a damn doorstopper. I don't know whether I would recommend it in a "you should totally emulate this!" kind of way, partially because I never finished it, largely due to the fact that on top of ALL THAT OTHER STUFF, it's also pretty danged depressing.

Hrm, now I'm thinking you might want to look into James Joyce, although that's a matter of hearsay, I'm not really familiar with his work. And also Ray Bradbury, whose work I am quite familiar with-- his short stories are his best work, Fahrenheit 451 is good but overrated.
Lea Fealith's avatar

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schizophrenic_ai
Lea Fealith


The title House of Leaves has come up multiple times- I'll be sure to check into it. The parallel narration looks beautiful. The formatting almost looks like it was made for dual narrating. About House of Leaves' color in narration- was it obnoxious/difficult to read because of the coloring? What was the purpose of the coloring in the novel?

Ulysses will be an awesome learning experience. I have an obligation to read it. Thank you.


House of Leaves is a bit of a decisive book. I haven't read it myself, only been around readers enough to know what's said about it, and I've flipped through it. It's crazy. Upside down pages and everything. If you're looking to break out of the standard structure you should check it out even if you end up hating it.
Nathan_Brazil's avatar

Dapper Lunatic

I've toyed around with the idea of having the most of a story written, but with occasional breaks of sequential/comic pages.
GreenInkling's avatar

Quotable Lunatic

You mentioned Ulysses, I assume by James Joyce.
I've not read either, but you might look into Finnigan's Wake as well.
I'm about as far from understanding it as I possibly can be, but there seems to be an element of multiple points-of-view overlapping without distinction.
Maybe for some of your trippier moments?
Ignore House of Leaves. You'd have better luck with Only Revolutions. It represents a story told in tandem by both protagonists. The writing style is lyrical, free flowing and riddled with 'errors' and matches the concept of both intoxication and dual narration quite nicely. The stream of consciousness style of writing would also probably be good for what you're looking to do.

Narration through images strikes me as excessive. People who say that certain things are indescribable simply don't know enough words.
Levi Jones's avatar

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The Book Will Grayson, Will Grayson could also be helpful. It has twp narrators that switch from chapter to chapter but you can tell the the difference between the the two by how it's written. One of the Will Graysons' story is written like an average book. The other's has no captilization, and when people speak there are no quotes. It's presented like this:

mom:hi will.
Great Lakes haze's avatar

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I think it's not a matter of how far you can push the boundaries, but of how you make it work. I'd say, just write the damn thing, and see what emerges. biggrin

And as for the ultimate destination of this work, I'm thinking we're going into an era in which web-based multimedia works are going to be very important. They already are, but will be more so. So if you focus on this now, you'll be proficient in time to catch the big wave. (Just my humble opinion.)

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