Thursday, September 24, 2009

Imagination to Ink : The Narrative Style and Viewpoint

So you have done research and you have a plot and you are now ready to write out the story. But what narrative style are you going to use? From whose point of view will you write the story? Who is actually telling the story? Is it the chief protagonist? Or are several characters taking over from time to time. Or is it the author narrating the events?
First, let’s understand what Style actually means. Style is a question of approaching the story, either in first person singular, third person singular or plural or as the omniscient narrator.
The most commonly used narrative styles are the first person singular and third person singular or plural. We shall only consider these two popular styles of narration.
To put it very simply – a first person narration is the voice of a particular character, usually the chief protagonist. Let me cite an example here:

I am wondering where I should begin my story. Should it be on the day when I saw Napier and Edith being married in the little church at Lovat Mill? Or when I was sitting in the train starting out on my journey to discover the truth behind the disappearance of my sister Roma? So much of importance happened before either of these significant events: yet perhaps I should choose the second alternative because it was then that I became inescapably involved.

The third person singular is the narration of the author but from the viewpoint of a single character, usually the hero or the heroine. The narrator in a way has a bird’s eye view of the whole story, but restricts himself to the viewpoint of the protagonist, thus becoming his ‘voice’. Here’s an example:

Sonia watched in admiration as Nimisha, the famous actress and her friend danced with perfect tempo and grace to the music, before a huge ornate set of a temple. The camera whirred. The light men trained reflectors and the lights on the beautiful actress. There was no doubt, Nimisha was a star – in the real sense of the word. Attired in a sequined, traditional blue and gold Bharat Natyam dance sari, her tall willowy body showed off perfect curves. Her personality emanated magic, poise and vitality. In front of the camera, she positively glowed like a star.

And the third person plural, is the author using his bird’s eye view and becoming the ‘voice’ of several characters, telling the story from their viewpoints. Either shifting focus from one character to the other alternately or devoting a certain amount of time to each character.
Next time, we shall try to understand these narrative styles individually, a little more in detail.

No comments: