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Thread: a few questions

  1. #1
    Randy Briggs

    a few questions

    Instead of starting a thread for each topic, I'm just going to cram all these small questions in here:

    Is it acceptable to change a non-fiction piece into a fiction piece by replacing names? (or, does this really constitute as making it fictional)?

    regarding a novel:

    I would like to open the novel in first person narrative, then switch to third person omniscient for the second chapter, then keep third omniscient for the third chapter but describe a different setting with different characters. Over the next few chapters continue switching between these two stories in third omniscient, then combine them in a first POV from the then established main character(or narrator). And from then on the novel is told in his POV. I know it sounds confusing right now, but if the novel were actually written this way I think it would be very effective towards character developement(otherwise there would be no point).

    After you've read through my question and have thought of solid and informative answers, then you can read a first draft paragraph about one of the characters in this novel:

    David and Aaron and Vincent and Alex and Daniel and Ivan and Larry and Luke and Miles: each plays their part as an acronym in their family name, all except for Miles. Miles was the first born son of Melissa and Mark Davadille. The Davadilles, madly in love for decades, always wanted to have a large family. Their first son, Miles, was destined to do great things. Their second son, David, was to be a great leader. Their third son, being a boy instead of the anxiously expected girl, was given a genderless name (without regards to spelling): Aaron. David, the second son, was six by the time Aaron flew the coop, and he noticed a peculiar pattern in his sibling’s names. “If you take my name, and put it next to Aaron’s name it makes our name.” Although the name Milesdavidaaron is not actually a name at all, what David meant was that the first letter of his name put next to the first letter of Aaron’s name spelled the first two letters of the family’s last name, Davadille. The mother and father Davadille, impressed by their son’s perception at such a young age, and also a blithering pair of hopeless romantics, fell head over heels in love with idea of naming their children appropriate acronyms according to their last name. Hence David and Aaron, the two coincidences, preceded Vincent and Alex(also hoped to have been a girl) and Daniel (tried for a girl again) and Ivan and Larry and Luke were born into the quiet unique Davadille family. Miles? Well, Miles was around before the great acronym idea, so he just stay put as Miles, far away from the family.

    I have been reading Charles Dickens if that is any excuse for the style of this paragraph.

  2. #2
    Randy Briggs

    Re: a few questions

    Comma after "hence"

    Hence, David...

    Space between Alex and the "(...)"

    Quiet should be quite(typo)

  3. #3
    Garrett Hutson

    Re: a few questions


    I would guess that you might have trouble getting responses to a single thread with so many questions. I know I only have time to address one before I have to log off for the day.

    About your first question--I don't that that taking nonfiction and changing the names makes it fiction. That's just nonfiction with the names changed.

    I personally think you should do more even than changing a few details--I think that in order to make it fiction you have to actually create something fictional. Make the characters somehow different from their real-life inspirations. Change their personalities in some concrete way. Let your imaagination run, and have fun with them.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Greg Kosson

    Re: a few questions


    I'm with Garrett here--my little brain can only handle one, and maybe not even that. I'll try the thing about viewpoint-- in brief, no.

    Yes, everything has been done and will be done. The thing is, if you're asking if it's OK, it's probably not going to work. Mozart and Bob Dylan didn't ask if what they did was OK, and both were quite weird at the time. They didn't seem to have a choice and they made it work. But they never seemed to ask anyone. JS Bach too, and who knows how many fiction and nonfiction writers. You think Hunter Thompson had any choice? You can't get weird on purpose.

    Now, I'll grant you that Mozart didn't have a very good modem speed to ask people, but still, he just did what he did because it made sense to him. Back in his day, computers were carved out of wood by monks and the modem speed was about 50 BPS. That was really slow and only higher order monks had the patience to exchange messages that way. So most composers worked in the dark. Computer hackers literally had to hack pieces of coded wood shingles to break into systems back then. Things were incredibly primitive.

    But I digress. You will flip agents and editors out, I think, with shifting first person-third person-second person stuff. I mean, imagine your car shifting gears at random or your girlfriend changing personalities at random. You might like the lack of predictability. You might find it exciting to see the revs hit the redline or when your demure girlfriend pulls on jack boots to stomp your arse, but it sure wasn't what you were expecting, not with a Toyota Camry and Camry Yama****a as your girlfriend.

    Ahem. But I digest. Now, they won't be able to fit your stuff into some cubbyhole they're comfy with, so they'll probably reject it. Hell, that's comfortable. They do it all the time. Much better than thinking. Once in a while, someone comes along and creates a brand new cubby, but they're real rare, those cubby creators. And I don't think they ever ask permission first. If you're already famous, hell-- go for it--they'll be blinded by the light too much to see the darkness. If you're not, just imitate the stupid pattern in their sun-blinded minds until they see you're really one of them, then you can take off your costume and say hey baby, take a walk on the wild side. By then, they won't have a choice.

    But not until then, Randy.

  5. #5
    jill smith

    Re: a few questions

    Both questions depend on the person's viewpoint. Non-fiction is something that is true. You can make it fiction if you choose. Styles can be just about any way you like.

    Point of views are meant to clarify the story. I think if you change althrough the story, the ones who choose to continue will be lost. I have trouble when in the movies, they do all those flashbacks and it leaves me wondering what time is the chain of events taking place.

    Multiple questions don't bother me. I guess it would be harder to answer if it was really longer. I read the idea for the story you asked about and it seems amusing how the names came about in the first place. Do they ever have a girl in the story?


  6. #6
    Greg Kosson

    Re: a few questions

    Probably more helpful for me to say I agree with Jill. Artsy stuff gets just plain confusing in a hurry. When telling a story it's already hard enough to convey a sense of reality. It's one thing to tell a story--even SciFi/Fantasy-- that could have happened, and quite another (in my mind anyway) to tell a story in an unnatural sequence or from some complex cast of narrators.

    You will see examples, for example the relatively simple device employed in James Crumley's Bordersnakes, in which the two main characters take turns writing chapters from their own points of view. Does it help the story? In that instance probably not; this is a hard boiled detective novel and the characters are (sorry JC) barely distinguishable voices. If it would really help clarify the story or add interest and you're supremely confident about your abilities as a writer, maybe. Otherwise I think it's often done to make up for other failings in stories. Maybe I'm too conservative this way, but that's my view.

  7. #7
    Amanda Turek

    Re: a few questions

    You have to tell your story in the way it needs to be told.
    If you must use the POV shifting, make sure it is done cleanly and in a way that is not confusing to the reader. Personally, I am not confused by what you are suggesting; I think it's fine if you can pull it off. Editors, well . . .
    I don't know enough about the storyline to suggest any alternatives, but I'd ask myself, is it necessary to tell the story from the first person POV? Could the opening 1st person be a prologue?
    When the two 3rd person storylines converge, is it at a high point in the novel, where the jolt of switching back into first person will feel natural/justified?

  8. #8
    Tom Cruisie

    Re: a few questions


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