Friday, January 18, 2008

Omniscient 3rd person

Can the narrative voice, the omniscient third person, be in several heads at once?

Some say no, it's too confusing. Some say yes, as long as their thoughts are sufficiently differentiated (i.e. you can easily tell whose inner voice is being translated onto the page at any one time.)

Well, here I have a problem. My MC is Caroline. Caroline aged 18 (in the 'present' within the book) but also Caroline later in life, looking back on events, through the medium of her journal entries. My second biggest character is DS Jean Wright, one of the detectives, who only ever appears in the 'present'.

The journal entries are straightforward - no need for a narrative voice - Caroline narrates herself.

The 'present' is more difficult. In alternating Post Mortem/Investigation chapters, I want the O3P to see into Caroline's head, and then DS Wright's but I want there to be certain similarities between the two women. I don't want to differentiate them too much.

To make things even more complicated, there are a few 'Post Mortem' chapters, in which I take the controls away from Caroline and hand over to one of a small cast of minor characters, when one of them has something important to say. In these moments, it seems essential to allow the O3P to see inside these characters heads too. Of course, these voices are quite different, and their sections are pretty short and sweet.

I give up. I'm starting to annoy myself.


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