Third-Person, Omniscient

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bcomet
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Third-Person, Omniscient

Post by bcomet » February 13th, 2013, 8:10 pm

I am thinking a LOT about Third-Person, Omniscient, wanting to get clear -or clearer- on it.
Is this the POV of the fairytale narrator? How about The Princess Bride?

The narrator seems a voice in and of itself and can see and understand inside all the characters.

Do I have this right?

If not, what would you call the Fairytale narrator story?

Thanks for any and all clarifications.

Doug Pardee
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Re: Third-Person, Omniscient

Post by Doug Pardee » February 14th, 2013, 12:10 am

Yes, that's correct. Nothing to add. ;)

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polymath
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Re: Third-Person, Omniscient

Post by polymath » February 14th, 2013, 11:23 am

The "Fairytale narrator" voice is a subject of folklore study by folklorists in the discipline known as folkloristics. The voice tends toward selective omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence. Contemporary audiences are less than enamored by the preaching, lecturing nature of the voice, and its tendency to "tell" or summarize and explain rather than "show" or imitate the dramatic action in a close narrative distance.

Folklorists use the term Märchen instead of "fairytale," loosely meaning folktale. A seminal folktale collection collecting German oral traditions was published by the Brothers Grimm, titled Kinder-und Hausmärchen, popularly known as Grimms Fairytales. Translated faithfully, the title means Children and Household Tales. The tales were directed to children and housewives and were meant to instruct, correct, and control children and women's behaviors according to an adult, male, Caucasian, Christian, chauvinist value system.
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bcomet
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Re: Third-Person, Omniscient

Post by bcomet » February 16th, 2013, 3:07 pm

Polymath, you describe the harsher side of that position. Preachy or chauvinistic. Definitely out of style.

I am thinking about it in a more modern, enjoyable format. A storyteller voice.

Even such as around the campfire, a primitive retelling of beloved or mythic or tribal tales. Not necessarily for instruction.

I loved The Princess Bride. It was a joy to read.

Anyway, it seems to me that when it is used in contemporary fairytale mode, that it can go back and forth between the telling (storyteller voice) and the showing (action of character) nicely. That's more so what I am exploring to deepen my understanding of how it can be done well.

What do you think, Doug?

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polymath
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Re: Third-Person, Omniscient

Post by polymath » February 16th, 2013, 3:51 pm

Then the voice you mean is that of the objective omniscient reporter or as I know it, the raconteur voice. A neutral narrator attitude reports in an after-action journalism mannerism with varying narrative distance after all salient details are known and attributes thoughts and sources to their respective character personas or infers them based upon sound reasoning and logic.

Around the campfire, no narrator identity development is necessary. The narrator is physically present with the audience. In prose, developing narrator identity for the raconteur voice is essential.

The voice I think you're going for is that of a bystander-narrator relationship to the action and investigative participation. A bystander observer reports as if he or she was present for events, but isn't really, and reports based upon actual witness-participants' experiences. But again, developing narrator identity for the sake of ethos is essential. Ethos meaning credibility. Readers of that voice trust the narrator to report authentically. And they build a degree of rapport with the narrator that positively influences their reading experience and the story.

Developing narrator identity is actually a core feature for creative nonfiction. New Journalism is a different genre, though, where the narrator and a strong subjective narrator attitude is part of the dramatic action if not the dramatic action. Hunter Thompson's Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas is New Journalism.
Last edited by polymath on February 17th, 2013, 2:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Third-Person, Omniscient

Post by bcomet » February 17th, 2013, 2:06 pm

Thank you, Polymath. Raconteur: A new term to me. And now I have just started down a good journey to learn more and found this most entertaining NYTimes article:

The Voice of The Storyteller by Constance Hale

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/20 ... oryteller/

which I also found delightful as well as informative.

I also think, part of my quest, is in determining (a tricky business sometimes) how to write from that POV wherein it does not do the dreaded "head-hop,"
while managing to hold the storyteller position.

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Re: Third-Person, Omniscient

Post by polymath » February 17th, 2013, 2:40 pm

Great article about the storyteller voice---voices. Along your journey of discovery you will be confronted with many choices, as the article implies. One point the article touches on---what a story's about and its narrative point of view, or who more so---writing about the other, someone other than the narrator often will appeal more to audiences than stories about the storyteller. However, developing the storyteller's identity comes as much from how the narrator-storyteller perceives and reports about the other as from directly expressing narrator identity.

In any event, the storyteller story nonetheless is also about the storyteller. Storyteller story endings ought best portray somehow a transformation of the storyteller as well as the focal characters.

As concerns the "dread head hopping," a writing principle that applies to all writing offers guidance: only give details essential to the focal character at the moment, the place, and the situation of the unfolding action. If the details are important at the moment for the character, they're important to readers too.

Another equally useful writing principle: set up transitions that incite readers' curiousity and caring so they hardly if at all notice a change in character perspective. The former principle offers a how-to do an artful transition.

Say Mary at the end of a scene wonders what happened to Jill. Boom. Jump to what Jill's doing. That's a simple example of a transition but a foundation for how they're done most artfully.
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Re: Third-Person, Omniscient

Post by bcomet » February 25th, 2013, 12:59 pm

I just read an article that compared "bad" head-hopping to "good" or artful head-hopping and referred to The Old Man and the Sea, Hemingway. So I picked up my copy and read the opening again and yes, he does go from inside the man to inside the boy to even inside the group of fishermen, and without spacing in between, but he does it by firmly establishing the narrator voice in the beginning.
Now, I plan to go back and re-read this whole great book to study it from this view.

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Re: Third-Person, Omniscient

Post by polymath » February 25th, 2013, 10:38 pm

Watch the film The Old Man and the Sea too. Spencer Tracy starred as Santiago in the color film from 1958, considered to be the mostly fully faithful film rendition of a novel. Knowing the English translation for one Spanish idiom word on the first page of the novel helps understanding: salao, pronounced sal-ow, short slurred form for salado, past participle of salar to salt, meaning salted, a provincial idiom for cursed, similar to English idiom old salt.
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