We are now on T, or as I call it, The beginning of The end. This experience has been like running a marathon. We are past the runners high and we see the goal in sight, and yet all we want to do is stop and fall over. But we know that in stopping, we won’t start again, so we must push on through to the end.
Today we have Thinking Out Loud and 3rd-Person Narrative.
The battle is soon over and I know each of you will be there until the very end.
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Thinking Out Loud
Talking out loud. This is an interesting character trait that mirrors real life. To some degree, all of us do this, though we generally hide it, and some do it to more of an extreme than others.
Unfortunately, Talking Out Loud has the stigma of being crazy. It is associated with Talking to yourself and some say that is a sign of schizophrenia. This is simply not true, as I myself have been Talking Out Loud most of my life and I am perfectly normal (aside from my disability of course).
To one end, people will talk to themselves in stressful situations, to help them find stuff, or to encourage them to finish a task. The trope “I think I can, I think I can” is an example of this. Others will often have imaginary conversations with people they know, or relive past conversations.
As a writer, I use it to act out scenes in my stories, or to figure out how to write something. I’ll go for a walk and start just speaking whatever is in my mind, and I have come up with some of the most astounding resolutions to my literary problems. It’s a method I use when I encounter writer’s block.
So, it is innocent enough, why does our society consider it a bad thing? Unfortunately, as I stated before, it is also a sign of Schizophrenia. I wouldn’t say that all people who do it are Schizo, but when someone has a series of symptoms, it is a definite sign.
The difference between it being a habit and it being you’re crazy, is if it is doing you harm. If you feel people are talking back to you… then yeah, you probably should get help. Though imagining what people might say in response is not the same thing as people talking back to you. Distinct difference.
So what this also called is Outer Dialogue. More than just help you organize your thoughts, it can also stimulate your intellect. Like any other muscle in your body, you must work it to maintain your strength. Thinking out loud is but one of many things you can do to keep your mind strong.
In narrative, we call this Stream of consciousness or interior monologue. When used in narration, it allows the author to give a characters point of view by writing out their thought process. This can be done in one of two ways.
First, we could hear it directly as their thoughts, such as JD in Scrubs. In Scrubs, we often hear what is in his mind rather than him saying it out loud. Some have commented that Michael Weston on Burn Notice is like this.
The other way is our characters actually talking. Not speaking to anyone, just talking out loud. We do see this in Shakespeare, but that is a soliloquy. The difference being is that the other characters should hear it and they don’t and it is breaking the 4th wall in talking directly to the audience.
Actual talking out loud means that if someone walked in on you, their first question would be, “Who are you talking to?” An Inner Monologue is simply what we are thinking, but in this case, we are saying it out loud.
One example I loved was an episode of DS9. In the episode, “By Inferno’s Light”, Garak must work in a tight space to rework a communication system so they can escape a Dominion Internment camp. It is a closed in space and he begins having a claustrophobic attack.
I love the part at the end when he has the respect of General Mortak and Worf. Not often that Klingons respect others for facing fear and having strength.
Anyways, I digress. Having characters talking out loud is not an indication they are going insane. Even in Garak’s case, he was trying to gain a handle of a stressful situation, but for anyone else, they may simply be voicing their thoughts out loud.
Another example was in DS9 when Sisko in the episode “In the Pale Moonlight”, when he spent the whole episode talking out loud. Now one could argue that this is a soliloquy, as it appears he is talking to the audience, though we must take cannon into consideration that he is just talking his thoughts out loud. I’ll let you be the judge.
This is perhaps one of the few traits that can be very positive but also seen as very negative from peers. While people associate this with being crazy, and perhaps your antagonist exhibits this trait, a normal person may do it organize their thoughts or deal with a stressful situation. Plus, when using it with a character, it can be a good way to demonstrate characterization.
There are a variety of narrative modes, including 1st and 2nd person Point of View. This is describing the narration, how the author chooses to tell the story, from whose perspective it is from. Of all the types, 3rd-Person is the most common, but of course, there are a variety of 3rd-Person point of view.
Just to cover our basis, 1st-Person is told by the narrator who is also a character. It uses a lot of personal pronouns, including ‘I’ or ‘We’. This technique is used to give voice to deep internal thoughts that would be unknown in any other format.
2nd-Person is where the narrator refers to the reader. It is rather rare format to use, more seen in “Choose Your Own Adventure”
3rd-Person (Third-Person) is the most common and offers greater flexibility to the author in providing narration. Each character is referred to by the narrator as ‘he’, ‘she’, ‘it’, or ‘they’. The narrator is a observer of it, but is unseen and unspoken by the characters.
There are two axes (x,y) of 3rd Person:
3rd-Person Subjective is when the thought, feelings, and opinions of more than one character is described. This often involves changing POV within the story.
3rd-Person Objective is when the narrator doesn’t tell you the character’s thoughts, opinions, or feelings. Instead, it is an objective, unbiased point of view. The goal is to be neutral. Often described as a camera lens, that can observe actions, but doesn’t interpret them, or show what thoughts are had. To show the emotions of the character, they must be interpreted by their actions.
3rd-Person Omniscient is basically when the narrator knows everything. Knows and sees all, and tells the readers. Often times knows things that the character does not. Advantage of this is making it easier to telling huge epic stories, while the disadvantage is the readers feeling disconnected from the story.
3rd-Person Limited (my favorite) is that the narrator knows everything about one character and maintains that one POV, and perhaps knows things that one character doesn’t, but doesn’t know anything about any of the other characters, and have a limited knowledge on the rest of the universe. In many ways it combines Objective and Subjective, since the only way we know anything about any of the other characters is through their dialogue and action.
It is possible to accomplish 3rd person limited and subjective, but when your POV is one character, you don’t know anything about the other characters until you switch POV. This is also called Sympathetic POV, as even if the character is a villain, the POV will often gain our sympathy as readers. We really understand their side to the story.
Just the same, 3rd person Omniscient and objective can be paired together. You know everything in the universe, but you put more focus on the storyline and don’t do anything with the characters thoughts and feelings. Merely showing what they are. Ignoring everyone equally. This is better known as True Omniscience. Not used much anymore, most famously used in the Lord of the Rings.
Thinking Out Loud & 3rd Person Narrative
Our link today is Voice. Voice of our characters and the Voice of our Narrative. As writers, we need to put a lot of focus in our presentation of the various voices of a story. That voice is what keeps our readers reading, keeps them interested and connected. No matter how good the story is, lacking the voice of narration and our characters makes for a poor story.
In many ways, especially in doing narration, it is poetry. There is a rhythm to it, a way of making music out of spoken words. A flow from the beginning of a sentence to the end, paragraph to paragraph, encouraging us to turn the page. Good writing is a great challenge. I wish there was more I could say on this, but most of what I said on this I said up above.
How a character speaks is important to remember as well. In fact, you should also consider the narrator a character if you try to match the way it speaks to the reader. You can choose to make it sounds like the time period, but it is also important to remain consistent with that.
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