In this second post of the series, you’ll learn more about the all-knowing and all-seeing omniscient narrator who conveys the facts from a third-person point of view and doesn’t take part in the story.
As the name suggests, this god-like narrator knows everything about the characters and the plot. In addition, he or she is able to predict the future and make assumptions and judgments. The use of this omniscient point of view was very common in nineteenth-century novels.
Let’s take a careful look at the omniscient narrator’s features:
The “once-upon-a-time” stories of your childhood already taught you that in order to tell a story, you need a narrator who transmits it to the reader. Every text (even articles or reports) has a narrator. That is, they’re told from a specific point of view with a particular approach and a distinct tone.
Thanks to the narrator, you can describe characters and settings, convey emotions, insert dialogues, express opinions, and ration information to create suspense or intrigue.
Since dialogue belongs to the characters, the narrator’s remarks can sometimes spoil it. However, they become necessary in a long conversation or in a dialogue with many members. If you want to know how to use them, here is a list of helpful tricks:
1. Brevity is the soul of wit.
As readers, we all are used to expressions such as “said John,” “asked Mary,” or “replied Sue,” but they should be used carefully because they slow down the reading pace. The same goes for adverbs or unnecessary explanations. As an example, look at this dialogue:
Entrepreneurship is on everyone’s lips these days. The current economic crisis along with the high percentage of unemployment and job insecurity make some people consider self-employment. If you’re in this situation and you’re passionate about writing, why don’t you become a writing entrepreneur?
Think about it for a moment – working from home, doing what you love, being your own boss, and becoming a professional writer. Does that sound like your dream job? If the answer is yes, the following list of tips might help you turn that dream into a reality.
Let’s imagine a man called Peter leaving the gym and running to his car with his duffel bag over his head to protect himself from the rain. When he reaches the car and is about to open the door, he stops because he sees Laura, his best friend’s girlfriend, kissing another man on the opposite sidewalk. The girl is wearing a pair of sunglasses, but all the same, he recognizes her.
Peter stands in the rain for a while as he watches the scene in disbelief. The couple enters a café, so he gets into his car but does not start it. He just sits there with his mobile phone in his hand. The screen displays the name and picture of his friend next to the call icon. More than once, Peter almost dials, but he finally decides not to.
Eventually, regardless of the rain, he returns the phone to his bag, gets out of the car, crosses the street, and enters the café. Laura is sitting at a table, chatting away with her companion. Peter approaches them and sits in front of the girl. Looking at him from behind the sunglasses she has not yet removed, she asks, “What are you doing here?” Peter ignores the question, sneers at her, and says, “Would you call this a little mistake too, or is it just me?”
The hero is the protagonist – the one who carries the weight of the story. A tale can have more than one main character (in some cases like Psycho, there can be a change of protagonist in the middle of the story). When there’s more than one protagonist, they can act in two different ways.
Plural – They share the same goals and suffer the same misfortunes or enjoy the same rewards in their struggle to achieve them. Such is the case of Robert Aldrich’s film The Dirty Dozen or Enid Blyton’s Famous Five..
Multiple – They have individual goals, rewards and misfortunes. Sometimes, what’s good for one can be bad for another. Such main characters appear in George R. R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire.
Regardless of the number of protagonists a story has, they must be appealing to the readers. If they like them and identify themselves with them, they are more likely to be interested in your story. Let’s take a look at the characteristics of unforgettable protagonists:
In this post, I want to discuss why you shouldn’t resort to “Deus Ex Machina” when you’re trying to solve a conflict in a story. As I have occasionally made that mistake and learned how to avoid it, I think you can take advantage of my experience and advice.
The origin of the term “Deus Ex Machina” dates back to the theatre in Ancient Greece when at the end of a play, one of the Olympic gods was hanging from a crane in order to solve the characters’ conflicts and give an end to the story. With their belief system at that time, this method for sorting things out was more or less justified, but the readers of today won’t easily accept divine intervention.
As you know, the characters are a fundamental part of any story. They are a must. But what type and how many characters do we need? One could say that we only need a protagonist (the character to whom the events of the story happen) and an antagonistic force or character to oppose the protagonist’s desires or goals. These two elements would be enough to tell a story.
This simplicity is well reflected in short stories which only include the main characters (the fewer, the better). But in the case of longer works such as the novel, adding secondary characters to the equation will give greater depth to the story and help you drive the plot to its conclusion. The construction of secondary characters, as with any other aspect of writing, opens up a world of possibilities, but there are a number of common supporting roles that are useful in any story:
Think of the potential reader who walks by a bookstore or the editor to whom you sent a manuscript. They have hundreds of available books, and they haven’t even heard of most of them.
When they pick up one that catches their attention because of the beauty of its cover, the originality of its title, or any other reason, they’ll leaf through it for no more than thirty seconds (just a quick glance at the first few lines of the text). What do you think they should find there? A catchy beginning or the weather forecast?
1. Don’t start talking about the weather.
Comments such as, “It’s cold” or “Look how much it’s raining today!” are elevator conversations – topics we turn to when we don’t know what to say. If your story starts with one of those sentences, you’re transmitting that “elevator feeling” to your readers. Unless the weather affects the development of your story from the beginning (or unless you’re writing a novel dealing with a meteorologist who studies climate), it’s not a good idea to begin by talking about the heat or the rain.
To give you a practical example, imagine these two possible beginnings: