If the writer places himself in the role of a character -- for example, telling the story in the first person -- then he cannot know what others are thinking.
Indeed. Especially if there's just is one central character, regardless of if there are many more who are almost always in the story.
If the writer puts himself outside of the story, speaking as if he were a narrator, then he CAN tell us what everyone else is thinking.
Not always. Unless the writer is also the narrator. But if they are not then no one would know what anyone is thinking. And often that is the case in some fiction.
This is known as the Authorial-omniscient perspective.
But it still bugs me if there's just one central character. Some writers even say what passing strangers are thinking.Many great writers use this,
And some not so great.
including, for example, Tolstoy. In one scene of War and Peace, he uses this technique to allow us to compare the same event (a card game) as seen by Nikolai Rustov and by the villianous Dolokhov.
I will not bother reading it then. In one way it's cheating, because it's harder to describe facial expressions and body language.Authorial-omniscient viewpoint can be overdone. In that case, the results are sometimes derisively called head-hopping because the author seems to leap from one person's thoughts to another.
Fat too many do that. I prefer 'real life' stories (odd I know for an SF writer) where if any one's thoughts are described, it's the main character's.
The careful writer will draw himself out of one mind before leaping into another. For example, if we are hearing one character's internal dialog in real time, we need a transition through hearing her thoughts indirectly,
then not hearing them at all, then moving to another mind.
There are a few writers who do not describe anyone's thoughts. That's very common in films because, well, that's normal.If this were a scene in a movie, we would call it a slow pan instead of a jump cut.
No, you have lost me there.Example, using the hitchhikers from the posts above:He looked down the long, narrow, black strip of macadam, tracing the white line with his eye. "How far to Omaha?" he asked."'Bout another fifty miles, give or take," she replied. She looked up at him.
*How on the green earth had she ever allowed him to talk her into a cross-country hitch-hiking trip? *
* Is the above a thought? Or just narrative?
"Any cars out there?""Nothing," he replied. "You can see as well as I can."Smartass, she thought. See what happens next time you ask how far to Omaha again.
Now that's obvious what it is"I'm short," she said. "You have a farther horizon."
He looked at her, raising an eyebrow.
I would split that like that.
What?" she snapped. "I'm only five-three!" She shot him a look; the look of doom.
And what does a look of doom look like?He returned her look with a blank face. What the hell is she so pissed about now?
Again, is that him thinking, or is it narrative?He wondered if he would have been better off traveling alone.Note that we pull the camera out of her head, first giving her dialog to speak, then pulling out to her face, and expressing her thoughts through her expression. We go from intimate involvement in her thoughts, to less-intimate involvement in her speech, and less intimate still, interpreting her expressions. Then and only then can we peek into his thoughts.
But they seem to be both speaking and thinking in turn.If we were telling the story in first person -- a limited perspective -- then we need her to express her thoughts verbally or by facial expression:
Indeed. That is what I said in my other posts.So now then the hitchhiker can't see her thoughts, and we get the opacity of the communication. He can only guess from her expressions, and the author can't tell us what's wrong with her.
Aye, you are just describing what I have already said. There are authors, of course, who have blended Authorial Omniscient with First Person. Kurt Vonnegut used to do it often; Galapagos is a great example. He is speaking as the ghost of a man killed during the construction of the ship, but he knows what the various characters are thinking. As we said earlier, Vonnegut is an anomaly.
I doubt he is. It's a common method.
(WTF is wrong with this Draft Saved thing?!! It has a 3 second lag that freezes me!)
I have not read Rama II, but thank you for the invitation. While I disagree with your interpretation, I will defer to your experience in having read it.
Unless you read it, you cannot really have an opinion on it.Youngblood Hawke is not a Who-Dun-It? It is a novel about a heavy equipment operator, a Sea-Bee from West Virginia, a mountain of a man, who aspires to be a writer.
That's indeed what it sounds like.
It tells of his successes, his pitfalls, his failures, and his eventual -- well, don't want to spoil it. It's a fine novel, and great literature, by the author who brought us The Caine Mutiny.You wouldn't like it.
Indeed not. They are not SF And The Caine Mutiny sounds like a derivative of Mutiny on the Bounty.
I assure you that The Caine Mutiny owes nothing to the Bounty. It is set in WW2, not the 19th century,
What has that got to do with it? Westside Story is not set in the 1500s.
and the central event is technically not a mutiny but an act of sedition.
There's little difference in the armed forces.
This brings us to another important point about writing: He writes well who reads well.
Are you aware that you go in to Lecture Mode?
Just Kevin said:
I assure you that The Caine Mutiny owes nothing to the Bounty. It is set in WW2, not the 19th century,What has that got to do with it? Westside Story is not set in the 1500s. and the central event is technically not a mutiny but an act of sedition.There's little difference in the armed forces.
Just Kevin said:
This brings us to another important point about writing: He writes well who reads well.Are you aware that you go in to Lecture Mode?
That's the asparagus, right there. I can give you the asparagus straight up, raw, and it's going to taste like raw asparagus. Or I can cook it, add seasonings, provide a sauce or a garnish -- it'll taste okay. Or I can bake it into a casserole or roll it into a sushi, making it a small and potentially overlooked part of a tasty dish.So in a way, the casserole -- the story line that encompasses the exposition -- is a byproduct (to the goal of laying out the context) and at the same time the main point (because it moves the story forward). What we're trying to avoid is raw exposition.
This post is a placeholder, to remind me to write an essay on the importance of research and fact-checking.
The stated purpose of this thread is to reveal writing techniques and information about writing for the stated purpose of helping those less experienced at writing. You are welcome to compose an essay of your own here, on that topic.
Is it not to also answer comments on that subject? Point by point?
Just Kevin said:
I would sincerely hope that most people do not require a description of a casserole.
Just Kevin said:
That's right Ron. Some quotes by famous people “Don't tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.” ― Anton Chekhov. "Show the readers everything, tell them nothing.” ― Ernest Hemingway. "Create a world in front of your readers where they can taste, smell, touch, hear, see, and move. Or else they are likely going to move on to another book.” ― Pawan Mishra. “Books. It's always easier to tell people that a character is funny rather than attempt to hit the punchline of a joke that character would've said. But if we all simply told, books would cease to exist. And so would empathy. And feeling.” ― Joyce Rochelle,
I agree with Paul's second example. When I used to read Luis Lamore's western novels, I remember being actually being able to sense the surroundings and feeling immersed into the story as it unfolded. To me as far as fiction goes I think that's the point to draw the reader into that world. Otherwise it's just a textbook. Another author I loved to read is Eric Vanlustbader. He writes a series of martial arts fiction. His writing really drew you into the character's emotions and experiences.
Thanks Skoob, I'll read Twain's book Pudd'nhead Wilson. I did art before I came to writing and it's much easier to "show" in art. I find it more difficult to "show" in writing. I tend to try and do that through conversations. "I wish I owned half that dog, because I'd kill my half." That's a good example. However my husband is very skeptical when it comes to the phrase "show not tell". He thinks that "it's impossible to show something in writing without using words. Showing is for art and photography." I bet your husband wears "glasses" with plastic lenses.