Perspective, organization, and missed opportunities


Published on

This lesson explores choosing a form of perspective for your story, deciding what organizational scheme would be best for your story, and how to identify missed opportunities--points in your story where you could have written more.

  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

Perspective, organization, and missed opportunities

  1. 1. Perspective, Organization, and Missed Opportunities<br />Building the Skeleton of Your Story<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  2. 2. Perspective<br />Perspective is the point of view from which a story is told.<br />Perspective directly influences the style, the tone, and the content of a story.<br />Some stories fit better with certain types of perspective.<br />Author preference is a major factor.<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  3. 3. Types of Perspective<br />First Person: the story is told from the perspective of a character and tends to create an unreliable narrator.<br />Second Person: the story is told as if the reader is the main character. Relies heavily on the pronoun “you” and is extremely rare.<br />Third Person<br />Omniscient: the narrator knows everything and can reveal any character’s inner thoughts.<br />Limited: the narrator does not know everything and may only be able to reveal one character’s inner thoughts.<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  4. 4. Complex Perspective<br />Composite Perspective: story is told by multiple first person narrators.<br />Embedded Perspective: a character within a story temporarily acts as a first person narrator, resulting in first person within third person or first person within first person.<br />Allows you to introduce an unreliable narrator into a third person story.<br />Allows you to share action in a first person story that occurred when the narrator was not present.<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  5. 5. Choosing a Perspective<br />First Person: beneficial if main character’s thoughts, world view, and unreliability are an integral part of the story.<br />Second Person: mostly experimental, tends to be jarring and distracting, and is difficult to use effectively.<br />Third Person: detachment from characters creates a more objective narrative which can be especially useful for large, complex stories.<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  6. 6. Plot Triangle<br />Classic visualization of the progression of plot.<br />While it does reflect the development of tension, fails to represent the actual organization of a story.<br />Organization is much more complex than the plot triangle would lead us to believe.<br />Climax<br />Falling Action<br />Rising Action<br />Exposition<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  7. 7. Organization<br />Linear: scenes arranged in chronological order from start to finish.<br />Non-Linear: scenes are not arranged in chronological order.<br />1 2 3 4 5<br />5 1 2 3 4 5<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  8. 8. Linear vs. Non-Linear<br />Chronological order is simplistic and easy to understand but can be bland.<br />Non-linear organization allows you to use flashbacks, flashforwards, and cuts to create tension, develop characters, and to progress the plot.<br />If your transitions are sloppy, non-linear organization can be chaotic and confusing for your reader.<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  9. 9. Non-Linear Templates<br />The Preview: shows the reader what is to come to generate tension.<br />The Flash: cuts back to previous action to provide context.<br />5 1 2 3 4 5<br />1 -1 2 -1 3 -1 4<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  10. 10. Non-Linear Templates (cont.)<br />Cinematic: flashes back to various moments in the past to develop tension and context and to reveal details about characters.<br />The Orator: story is told many years later in a setting almost completely different from that of the story, allowing different characters to commentate and relate the story to a different time.<br />1 -4 2 -7 3 -2 4<br />100 1 2 3 4 5<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  11. 11. Most Dangerous Game<br />Told from a third person omniscient perspective and uses chronological organization.<br />Outline:<br />Rainsford and Whitney discuss the island.<br />Rainsford, alone on the deck, hears gunshots and falls into the water.<br />Rainsford swims toward the gunshots and finds land.<br />Rainsford awakens in the afternoon and follows the trail of a previous hunt into the jungle.<br />Rainsford stumbles upon a chateau and meets General Zaroff.<br />Rainsford dines with Zaroff, and Zaroff reveals that he hunts men (long scene).<br />Rainsford tries to sleep, realizes that he is a prisoner, and hears gunshots in the jungle.<br />Rainsford and Zaroff dine again. Zaroff gives Rainsford supplies.<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  12. 12. Most Dangerous Game Outline (cont.)<br />Rainsford runs through the jungle, begins to plot, and climbs into a tree at dark.<br />Zaroff tracks Rainsford to the tree but opts to give him more time.<br />Rainsford finds new resolve and begins to work on a plan.<br />Rainsford nearly catches Zaroff with a trap.<br />Rainsford builds a pit trap near the swamp.<br />One of Zaroff’s dogs falls into the trap.<br />Rainsford runs from the hounds and builds a trap with his knife.<br />The knife kills Ivan. Rainsford runs and jumps into the sea.<br />Zaroff returns to his chateau and dines.<br />Rainsford confronts Zaroff in his bedroom.<br />Rainsford sleeps.<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  13. 13. Analysis<br />The third person perspective allows the reader to “watch” the action, almost like a movie, and dips into the characters’ heads to provide insight.<br />The chronological organization creates a steady build of tension.<br />The threat of death is engaging.<br />The three day time limit creates an unseen timer in the reader’s head.<br />The near-successes of Rainsford’s traps create suspense and characterize Zaroff as a serious threat to Rainsford’s life.<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  14. 14. Missed Opportunities<br />Storytelling is about possibilities, the eternal “what if?”<br />Think like a reader. What would you want to know about your characters? What would you like to see?<br />Did you miss an opportunity to share dialogue? Action? Confrontation? A flashback?<br />Would changing the perspective or the organization create more possibilities?<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  15. 15. Identifying Missed Opportunities<br />Show; don’t tell. <br />If you say, “Becky hates spiders,” create a scene where Becky encounters a spider and reacts.<br />If characters reference a past event, flashback to it and show the scene.<br />Do you dedicate enough time to a major plot point? Can you develop it with more action?<br />Are your characters three dimensional? Can you show a mean character being nice?<br />What other obstacles can you put between your character and his/her goal?<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />
  16. 16. Assignments<br />Make “Most Dangerous Game” non-linear and write in transitions to create a coherent story.<br />Tips<br />Print out the story and cut the story into “chunks” using my outline as a guide. Move the pieces around to see how the story will fit together.<br />Think about the story as though it were an action movie.<br />Use one of the non-linear templates.<br />Chop up individual scenes to create a new controlling device.<br />Revise your story for missed opportunities. Do not fret over micro issues at this point.<br />Outline your story, and use the same strategy that you used to reorganize “Most Dangerous Game” to reorganize your story.<br />Consider a change in perspective.<br />Read an excerpt from Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood:<br />Next week: Developing Scenes.<br />Lecture Notes Are Property of Marshal D. Carper (<br />