Category: perspective

Perspective Series: #3 Stream of consciousness

Perspective Series: #3 Stream of consciousness

The following technique in our perspective series has to do with psychology: we talk about the stream of consciousness.

In this sense, the author uses narrative and stylistic devices to create the sense of an unedited interior monologue.

What is a Stream of Consciousness?

The stream of consciousness is a narrative technique that consists of the free representation of a character’s thoughts as they appear in mind. Thoughts are not logically reorganized into sentences and are not introduced by graphic signs or binding syntagmas.

In other words, it is an interior monologue, where the individual emerges in the foreground, with their inner conflicts, their emotions, feelings, and sensations, in short, his unconscious psychic life.

This particular technique was officially invented by philosopher and writer William James at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. At this time, there were psychoanalytic theories, in particular Freud’s studies on the unconscious. Its characteristics are to eliminate dialogue, concentrating on a free flow of thoughts, without rules or graphic expedients (commas, inverted commas).

Many writers have made use of this particular technique. Above all, James Joyce, Virginia Wolf, Jack Kerouac, William Faulkner, Svevo, Pirandello.

How the stream of consciousness works

Moreover, the thoughts of the characters are reported as described below:

  • the character’s narrative voice is not introduced by the verbs of thinking and delimited by inverted commas
  • through the technique of discourse with the mediation of an external narrator
  • characters who think refer to themselves in the first person
  • the verb tenses of the character’s thoughts are in the present tense
  • without rational logical order and conventional sentence syntax
  • without the use of ligature syntagmas or graphic signs.

Stream of consciousness: example

Among the various authors who made use of the stream of consciousness, we mentioned James Joyce.
For instance, his novel, Ulysses, ends with a stream of consciousness. Actually, it is an inner dialogue of eight paragraphs, without pauses or punctuation.

“Tight shoes? No, she’s lame! Oh! Mr Bloom watched her limp away. ‘Poor girl! That’s why she had sat on the ledge while the others took off running. There seemed to be something unusual about her outward moves. Beauty of wasted vagueness. A defect in a woman is worth ten times as much. But it makes them kind. Glad I didn’t know that when she was showing off. But a wild one, nevertheless. I wouldn’t mind of. Curiosity. Like a nun, a black woman, a girl with glasses. That cross-eyed one is a tough one. She’s about to have her period, I have an idea, that makes her shady. I’ve got a headache today! Where did I put the letter? Ah, here it is. They have all kinds of crazy cravings.”

Extract of “Ulysses”- James Joyce

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Perspective Series #3: Stream of Consciousness- bibisco's main character conflict section - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s main character conflict section

Conclusions

In conclusion, a stream of consciousness is a technique that is distinguished by being punctuation-free. They are thoughts that seem disconnected from each other but lead the reader to reflect and get to know the character well. A writer can use the stream of consciousness to convey the thoughts or feelings going on in a character’s head, a writer’s trick to convince the audience of the authenticity of the thoughts they are trying to write into the story.

Perspective Series: #2 Unreliable Narrator

Perspective Series: #2 Unreliable Narrator

In our previous article of the Perspective Series, we talk about the topic of the First-person Narrator. We know that the first-person narrator tells the story in their voice. They are not always aware of all the facts. But should we always believe the narrator and everything they say? This is the case of the Unreliable Narrator.

What is the Unreliable Narrator?

An unreliable narrator in literature, film, theatre, etc., deceives the reader by giving him a false perspective on the story. Thus, the readers remain trapped in this view of events until they gradually discover that the narrator is not credible. The unreliable perspective occurs mainly with the personal narrative method.

Wayne C. Booth coined this term in his book “The Rhetoric of Fiction“, explained how an unreliable narrator is. It has a narrative function, such as misleading the reader/viewer or putting the character in question in a negative light. Narrative characters can be unreliable if they have psychological flaws, show strong prejudices, lack experience, or even consciously mislead the audience.

Who is the Unreliable Narrator?

It is important to remember that the narrator is not the author. The narrator is directly involved in the story and is not always aware of the facts.

Generally, having a narrator who tells the story as it happens, with his emotions, has a particular goal. The readers are more involved because they know that the narrator does not know what will happen.

The narrative perspective of the Unreliable Narrator is often used in crime and thriller novels. However, it is a rather complex technique to use. The Unreliable Narrator is a narrator who does not report the facts as they happened.

The three actions of an Unreliable Narrator

Three actions define and make it clear that we are dealing with an unreliable narrator:

  • Omission
  • Alteration
  • Distortion

In the first situation, the Unreliable Narrator omits facts or causal links of fundamental importance. The omission of certain events prevents the reader from really understanding the situation and guessing how it will develop. The reader is thus left groping in the dark.

However, an Unreliable Narrator also alters the reality of the facts by reporting events inaccurately. In essence, the narrator presents their point of view to the reader without revealing that it does not correspond to reality.

Finally, the Unreliable Narrator applies the ‘distortion of judgment‘. This is the judgment alteration of themself and the other characters.

The Unreliable Narrator in books

A clear example of the Unreliable Narrator is Italo Svevo‘s Zeno’s Conscience.
Zeno Cosini is the unreliable narrator of this story. To appear better than he is in the eyes of Doctor S., Zeno distorts the facts of the past and constantly alters his judgments.

In the book’s first chapter, Doctor S. himself explains this characteristic very well. He decides, in revenge, to publish Zeno’s autobiography, warning the reader of the mountain of lies he will find written in it.

In addition, Agatha Christie used it extensively in her mystery books. In ‘The Murder of Roger Ackroyd‘, she did it where the reader finds out that the narrator is the story’s culprit.

“We commonly do not remember that it is … always the first person that is speaking.”

Henry David Thoreau, Walden

Write your story with the Perspective of the Unreliable Narrator

As we have seen, the Unreliable Narrator Perspective confuses the reader. At a certain point, the readers undergo a twist, realizing that they have been dealing with an Unreliable Narrator.

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Perspective Series- Unrealiable Narrator- bibisco's project explorer - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s project explorer

Conclusions

An Unreliable Narrator exalts himself and his ethics by blaming other characters for his own mistakes.

Why is this used? The primary function is providing the reader with a distorted view of the facts, told from the point of view of the unreliable narrator. This generates continuous uncertainty, which produces truly exciting twists and turns!

Perspective Series: #1 First-person Narration

Perspective Series: #1 First-person Narration

When creating a new story, you also have to decide on the narrative perspective. Everything changes if the narration is done in the first person or another way. For this reason, we start with a new series: the Perspective Series and the First-person narration.

In this article of the Perspective Series, we explain First-person narration and what it is all about.

What is the First-person Narration?

This technique involves the story being told and described by a character in the first person. Usually, the writer uses “I” and “we” to emphasize that the narrator is not external to the events. On the contrary, this character is part of them, just as all the others are.

You can implement first-person narration with an inner monologue, a dramatic monologue, or an explicit narration.

The particularity of this technique is that the narrator using the First-person Narration technique is not always aware of the events. For instance, the narrator undergoes them just like any other character. However, thanks to their narration, we better understand their feelings, thoughts, and those of the other characters.

The First-person Narration: how and when

A detective story or a thriller are types of narration that lend themselves well to the use of this technique. They become very engaging as the reader proceeds through the story, at the same pace as the protagonist, which allows a natural bond to develop between the character and the reader.

Writing in the first person is about making the reader live a story through the eyes and actions of the narrating protagonist.

It is writing that brings the reader and the protagonist closer together in an absolute way, making them almost the same thing. In this way, inconsistent behavior cannot be allowed. It isn’t easy to create twists and turns.

On the other side, it is much easier to bring the reader to the tension, going straight down the ladder in the dark with him.

It is preferable to write in the first person when the protagonist is the center of the story. This presupposes a linear and time-ordered narrative in mind so that the coherence between story, narrator character, and course of events is absolute.

This will benefit action, thriller, and detective stories with a brilliant, curious, and courageous protagonist.

“I would so hate to be a first-person character! Always on your guard, always having people read your thoughts!”

Jasper Fforde, Lost in a Good Book

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Perspective Series: #1 First-person Narration - bibisco's timeline - bibisco blog | useful resources by your novel writing software
bibisco’s timeline

Conclusions

Writing in the first person is immediate, rhythmic, and emotional. It allows the writer to catapult the reader into the world created. Besides this, the reader could experience the protagonist’s emotions, living the situations with his eyes.