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Old 12-27-2017, 10:37 PM   #1
MagicFingers
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A new story concern about first person, or

Happy New Year!
I started writing this story months ago about two couples.
It is being told from a first person viewpoint. The story teller is married, having a birthday and dinner with another couple who are a friend and a co-worker.
It starts out something like, "It's my birthday. I'm 37 and married and we're out at dinner with a female co-worker and a male friend of mine who is dating her." (Not those words!)

My problem is that later, I have a conversation between the two women in another room from the story-teller. And I want to say what other people are thinking or maybe doing that the teller may not be knowledgeable about.
Is it OK to do that, or when and how is it ever OK to do that?
I really didn't want to change to second person because I'd have to re-write the whole thing. I really screwed up one story with past and present tense in the same story and I don't want to make mistakes like that or this again!

Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks, MF
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Old 12-27-2017, 10:52 PM   #2
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It sounds like you have a mess on your hands. Try to work out who is telling the story and then work out how it's done. Third person sounds like it might solve your problems.
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Old 12-27-2017, 10:59 PM   #3
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Right now,

Quote:
Originally Posted by NotWise View Post
It sounds like you have a mess on your hands. Try to work out who is telling the story and then work out how it's done. Third person sounds like it might solve your problems.
Andy, the birthday boy is telling the story. But, how can he know of a conversation in another room, or what others are thinking? I could say that he found out later from talking to his wife, or that he understands what his wife is thinking because he knows her so well. ?
It's 18 Word pages already, and most of it works in first person. "Most" is the problem.

Last edited by MagicFingers : 12-28-2017 at 01:09 AM.
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Old 12-28-2017, 12:29 AM   #4
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Why did you want to tell the story in the first person in the first place? What was the point of doing it that way? I think you need to ask yourself that first. If your reason is strong enough, then you should remove or change the scene between two people other than the narrator. Including that scene will undermine the whole purpose of telling the story in the first person.

The simplest way to handle this is to put the story in third person. That way you can jump between characters and points of view.

Don't stick with what you've done just because it will be inconvenient to change it. Adopt the point of view that works best and make whatever changes you need to so it works.
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Old 12-28-2017, 12:56 AM   #5
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I personally use third person for all of mine because I like to poke and prod around in all the character's minds/feelings. Since I'm basically an untrained writer, that makes it easier... but that's beside the point.

Seems the only obvious option is to have the details of the conversation be overheard by the narrator...or be overheard by someone who later tells the narrator. If it's important to keep it basically as it is, then perhaps an even somewhat "clunky" accidental eavesdropping could be slipped in without to much mess?
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:52 AM   #6
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Is this conversion essential to the story? Can you find other ways to give readers the same or similar information? Maybe the the story teller asks his wife what she was talking about with the other woman and even if she won't give details "the sparkle in her eye told me that..."

I would avoid changing narration perspective midst story. It takes the reader out of it. The same goes for "i found out later," IMO. I'd try find ways to hint at what was being said, or just skip the conversation.
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Old 12-28-2017, 02:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicFingers View Post
Happy New Year!
I started writing this story months ago about two couples.
It is being told from a first person viewpoint. The story teller is married, having a birthday and dinner with another couple who are a friend and a co-worker.
It starts out something like, "It's my birthday. I'm 37 and married and we're out at dinner with a female co-worker and a male friend of mine who is dating her." (Not those words!)

My problem is that later, I have a conversation between the two women in another room from the story-teller. And I want to say what other people are thinking or maybe doing that the teller may not be knowledgeable about.
Is it OK to do that, or when and how is it ever OK to do that?
I really didn't want to change to second person because I'd have to re-write the whole thing. I really screwed up one story with past and present tense in the same story and I don't want to make mistakes like that or this again!

Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks, MF
If it's first person the narrator must be present for the conversation or action, or hear it second hand. So you have three choices: 1) hear it second hand, 2) drop the conversation, or 3) change to third person narration. How many words have you written?
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Old 12-28-2017, 02:58 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicFingers View Post
My problem is that later, I have a conversation between the two women in another room from the story-teller. And I want to say what other people are thinking or maybe doing that the teller may not be knowledgeable about.
Is it OK to do that, or when and how is it ever OK to do that?
One of my favorite authors is L. E. Modesitt. He has a habit of writing one character's first person POV in one chapter/scene and everything else in third person. Most people here will tell you that doesn't work and it takes you out of the story, but I'd been reading LEM's work for several years before I realized that was what he was doing.

I think as long as you make very clear separations between chapters and scenes you shouldn't have a big problem. Just make sure that you aren't chopping thing into too many sections; if you're doing that, just switch to Third Person, Omniscient.
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Old 12-28-2017, 03:45 AM   #9
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If you want your story to communicate to the reader dialogue that the protagonist doesn’t hear or thoughts that the protagonist couldn’t possibly know, you need to write your story in third-person narration.
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Old 12-28-2017, 05:05 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicFingers View Post
Happy New Year!
I started writing this story months ago about two couples.
It is being told from a first person viewpoint. The story teller is married, having a birthday and dinner with another couple who are a friend and a co-worker.
It starts out something like, "It's my birthday. I'm 37 and married and we're out at dinner with a female co-worker and a male friend of mine who is dating her." (Not those words!)

My problem is that later, I have a conversation between the two women in another room from the story-teller. And I want to say what other people are thinking or maybe doing that the teller may not be knowledgeable about.
Is it OK to do that, or when and how is it ever OK to do that?
I really didn't want to change to second person because I'd have to re-write the whole thing. I really screwed up one story with past and present tense in the same story and I don't want to make mistakes like that or this again!

Any insights would be appreciated. Thanks, MF
Are you using present tense?

I think first person point of view present tense stories work because you can see directly through the subject's eyes, and understand his/her reasoning. It can make very intimate stories, but it also means you are limited to the information that person gets. Especially with present tense, you can't ad things like "I later heard that..."

If it is a long story already, it would be weird to include one short piece of text written from another point of view. Either make it logical for the person to find out, or leave this information out.
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Old 12-28-2017, 06:14 AM   #11
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You have a few options.

#1: rewrite the whole thing in first person, which means turning the women's conversation into reported speech.

#2: rewrite the whole thing in third person.

#3: keep it mostly in first person, but switch to third for that conversation. If you do this, the switch needs to be clearly flagged to avoid confusion.

As an example of #3:

Quote:
I asked Susan, "So, what did you and Jane talk about?"

"Well..."

Jane pulled up a stool next to Susan. "Hi, Susan!"

"Hi Jane, what did you want to talk to me about?"

"Well, it's like this. You know I've always had a thing for your husband, and my hotel room has a hot tub that holds three..."


"...not very much," said Susan. "We mostly just shot the breeze about old times. Oh, I was just thinking, why don't we pop up and say hi to Jane after dinner, then you and she can catch up too?"
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Old 12-28-2017, 07:19 AM   #12
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In the past I have rewritten several long stories from 3rd to 1st and the other way around as a trial to see which would work better.

It isn't as difficult, or as time-consuming, as it might seem. But what I made sure I did first was save the original draft so that I could go back to it if the change didn't work out.
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Old 12-28-2017, 10:59 AM   #13
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I had a dilemma like this once. So I decided to rewrite the whole thing, in first person... but from another character’s POV. In your case, perhaps your entire story really wants to be written in the voice of one of the two women having the conversation...

Just a thought. Might make the story move in interesting ways.
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Old 12-28-2017, 11:12 AM   #14
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1. Baby monitors, overhearing the conversation as he walks down the hall, etc. all work to let your protagonist overhear the conversation first person.
2. Use breaks between events which are a narrative of someone's diary entries. For instance, add a forward of a diary entry. Then later on between two chapters, add another diary entry. Then, turn the conversation into a diary entry.
3. Skip chronicling it and add the details in later as other elements.
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Old 12-28-2017, 01:42 PM   #15
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I think it can be done but there is a big chance it could be clumsy. For example, the communication of the other two possibly doesn't need to be closely reported but when actions are taken based on the substance of the communication the narrator can say that they were coordinated with what he thought was a wink or some thing similar. It could be sufficient without further explanation to convey that some thing was happening the narrator didn't know about . The narrator could also have set it up by saying the two communicators were talking together in the "kitchen" beforehand.

Without knowing more it is difficult.
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Old 12-28-2017, 03:48 PM   #16
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Robert Louis Stevenson's "Treasure Island" is mostly told from the perspective of Jim Hawkins, a teenage boy on a pirate ship and later on an island. At one point, it became necessary to describe events inside a stockade, where Hawkins was not, and could not know what was happening. So for three chapters, the titles started out as "Chapter 16: Narrative continued by the Doctor" until it goes back to "Chapter 19: Narrative Resumed by Jim Hawkins."

I'm not saying it isn't clunky, but it has been successfully done when necessary.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:39 PM   #17
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If a tree falls in the forest

and there's no one there to hear it, does it make a sound? The answer is a resounding "YES!"

I'm telling the story in first person past tense.
Yes, that conversation in the kitchen is Vital to the story! It's my first official group sex story and I made it about first time mate swapping. I thought it would be better from one person's point of view. There is a movie running throughout the story called "Swing Time" which I made the title of my story though the story is really not swinging. Telling the story from the birthday boy's POV seemed like a good option because; it's his BD, his house, his movie, his wife, his friends, and most importantly, HIS birthday present. That birthday present and the swapping would probably not happen without that scene in the kitchen between the women. I got some good advice about that from the "Story Ideas" thread.

Each pair has just had sex with their own mates while watching the movie. (There's a reason why they're all turned on.) The girls go to the kitchen. The guys have a short conversation about the recent events of the evening - sex. Then I put this in:
'Meanwhile, in the kitchen, the girls were cooking the popcorn in the microwave and fixing drinks for everyone. It was going a little slow as it was hard for them to remember exactly what they were doing and they chatted as they moved around.' Then the women's conversation happens and they return to the living room couch where the guys are and remain there.

The friend tells the wife that she'd like to give her husband a BJ BD present.

Most people say that I cannot include that conversation in the story without the language critics having a fit. Why is that? In real life, we jump around from first, second, third, present, and past all the time. I don't mean to sound like a whiner of something. Really wondering.

I believe my thought might be that He is still telling the story and that conversation is part of the story. It doesn't matter that he doesn't hear it, and in fact, he shouldn't have heard it. He finds out soon enough.

So, the conversation happened, even if he didn't hear it.

Thank you all for your learned and insightful insights. I want to keep learning and growing.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:45 PM   #18
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Thank you for this

Quote:
Originally Posted by SimonDoom View Post
Why did you want to tell the story in the first person in the first place? What was the point of doing it that way? I think you need to ask yourself that first. If your reason is strong enough, then you should remove or change the scene between two people other than the narrator. Including that scene will undermine the whole purpose of telling the story in the first person.

The simplest way to handle this is to put the story in third person. That way you can jump between characters and points of view.

Don't stick with what you've done just because it will be inconvenient to change it. Adopt the point of view that works best and make whatever changes you need to so it works.
I really thought a lot about those questions in the last two days. See my last post. I do like the way it reads to me in first person, reading parts back again. Thanks
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:55 PM   #19
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yes, essential

Quote:
Originally Posted by tomlitilia View Post
Is this conversion essential to the story? Can you find other ways to give readers the same or similar information? Maybe the the story teller asks his wife what she was talking about with the other woman and even if she won't give details "the sparkle in her eye told me that..."

I would avoid changing narration perspective midst story. It takes the reader out of it. The same goes for "i found out later," IMO. I'd try find ways to hint at what was being said, or just skip the conversation.
Also used "the look in her eyes" trick later.
The second part above: I don't think I'm changing narration perspective and my readers should be drawn into the story more because this is a turning point and important. I can't leave it out and I still think this is the best way to do it. If I'm wrong, please try again to let me know if it still is not working after reading the above post's reasoning. Thank you.
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Old 12-29-2017, 08:59 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicFingers View Post
I'm telling the story in first person past tense.

...

So, the conversation happened, even if he didn't hear it.
And there's your problem, right there.

If you have a first person pov then the narrator must be present to know an action or an event. If you break that for whatever reason, you've just busted down a narrative wall, and it will stick out like dog's balls. Any suspension of disbelief your readers might need to inhabit the same mind as your narrator will be challenged - and for many readers it will be, "Whoa, wait, what just happened?"

I'd be asking why the scene is so necessary - from what you give us, it doesn't seem particularly 'vital' to me. From his pov, why would he care what the motivation is for the bj? Maybe he can observe the reactions of the others in the room and speculate for himself? If he's got his eyes open...

Are you sure you're not over thinking this? All this to-and-fro on this thread, you could have written a very satisfactory scene, with no motivation other than wanting a cock in her mouth!
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Old 12-29-2017, 09:01 PM   #21
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Yes, it is something like this

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bramblethorn View Post
You have a few options.

#1: rewrite the whole thing in first person, which means turning the women's conversation into reported speech.

#2: rewrite the whole thing in third person.

#3: keep it mostly in first person, but switch to third for that conversation. If you do this, the switch needs to be clearly flagged to avoid confusion.

As an example of #3:
Quote:
Quote:
I asked Susan, "So, what did you and Jane talk about?"

"Well..."

Jane pulled up a stool next to Susan. "Hi, Susan!"

"Hi Jane, what did you want to talk to me about?"

"Well, it's like this. You know I've always had a thing for your husband, and my hotel room has a hot tub that holds three..."

"...not very much," said Susan. "We mostly just shot the breeze about old times. Oh, I was just thinking, why don't we pop up and say hi to Jane after dinner, then you and she can catch up too?"
but not inserted so close in side the conversation. Thanks
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Old 12-29-2017, 10:24 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MagicFingers View Post
Quote:

but not inserted so close in side the conversation. Thanks
Yeah, in that case you could use something similar, but with scene separators (* * * * or similar) to mark out that section of the story.
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Old 12-30-2017, 06:32 AM   #23
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Could there be a "Later, Susan told me..."?
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Old 12-30-2017, 08:14 AM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RubenR View Post
Could there be a "Later, Susan told me..."?
Sounds hard to pull off without sounding forced. Everytime I read things like that, I see it as hack story telling, and it takes me out of the story. But if the narration keeps swapping between the actual story and a later conversation about it, then it could work.
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Old 01-05-2018, 09:55 PM   #25
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Thank you

Quote:
Originally Posted by electricblue66 View Post
And there's your problem, right there.

If you have a first person pov then the narrator must be present to know an action or an event. If you break that for whatever reason, you've just busted down a narrative wall, and it will stick out like dog's balls. Any suspension of disbelief your readers might need to inhabit the same mind as your narrator will be challenged - and for many readers it will be, "Whoa, wait, what just happened?"

I'd be asking why the scene is so necessary - from what you give us, it doesn't seem particularly 'vital' to me. From his pov, why would he care what the motivation is for the bj? Maybe he can observe the reactions of the others in the room and speculate for himself? If he's got his eyes open...

Are you sure you're not over thinking this? All this to-and-fro on this thread, you could have written a very satisfactory scene, with no motivation other than wanting a cock in her mouth!
This and all the other posts that have given me much to think about. I'm going to learn and grow in some way, so thanks to all and the story will be posted sometime and it will be better.MF
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