Monday, April 13, 2009

The Teller of the Tale

narration--any long dramatic recitation; an accounting of events; a story, novel, or drama; a dramatic discourse with a particular theme and/or goal; the way a story is related to the audience/reader; a manner of expressing dramatic information.

Narration is a generic term for story in one or more of its more specific forms (a film narration, a shortform narration, a stage narration). In context, it may also mean any part of a narration that does not include dialogue. Also in context, say Hamlet, one can refer to it as a narrative of revenge (implying that it does indeed contain dialogue). Narration is also spoken of in specificity as a narrative (a romantic narrative, a speculative narrative), leading us to the one or ones who transmit the dramatic information, the narrator(s).

Narrators are characters who carry the dramatic load for the author, removing the reader's or viewer's awareness of the author and contributing to the sense of the characters "coming alive" or seeming authentic.

General platforms for narrators are:

first person--the "I" who is relating or narrating the dramatic events.

second person--the "you" who is experiencing or narrating the dramatic events.

third person--the "he," "she," or a specific name, say Mary, or Mary Jones, or Jones.

multiple point of view--a number of third-person narrators.

omniscient point of view--where focus shifts to any number of characters within the same scene

authorial narration point of view--where the author appears to be saying things to the readers about one or more of the characters within a given scene.

Hint: There are some writers (Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Don DeLilo, W. Somerset Maugham, for instance) who are able to include themselves in scenes, making authorial comments, but these and others like them present a challenge to the less skilled among us. Readers are more apt to believe characters than they are likely to take the word of writers.

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