Writing Tips: Displaying a Scene with Narrator's Absence
black-butterfleyesThis is what I like to call the “First Person Dilemma.” While this is a sticky situation, here are a few ways to fix the problem. Utilize the perspective of another character:
asked:Hi there! I just found this blog and I`ve never asked anything before but I have a question about point of view. My story is written in first person. However, there is one scene I want to include that the main character wasn`t there to witness, so she can`t narrate this. Is there some way to cleverly include this scene?
Write in third person instead.
In many books, such as Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress to A Bend in the Road, they will have another character involved portray the scene. However, the problem with this situation is that if not done right, can feel choppy and confusing with the reader. If you are going this path, try to make there be a strong stylistic reason for going this route as well. Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress does the first person switch to reaffirm the importance of storytelling and highlight the differences in characters. A Bend in the Road adds mystery and suspense to an otherwise gushy romance novel.
Use the narrator’s ignorance to enhance the story.
Depending on the nature and plot of the story, this may actually be a good choice, as it allows for more details, easier switch of perspective, and dramatic irony. However, if your first person novel is like The Hunger Games or Divergent, two books heavily cemented in the main characters feelings and thoughts, and not books like Fahrenheit 451, a dystopian which deals with other peoples reactions, censorship, and deceit, you might want to find another option.
Just have the scene explained or mentioned.
Who says that the scene has to be included THE MOMENT it happened? Instead, you can have the situation witnessed from the distance, hinted at, or even brought up at a later point! What I would best recommend doing, if the first two options don’t fit your fancy, would be to use the narrator’s ignorance to create a good bit of foreshadowing, a plot twist, or if carefully done, even both. This will add some more intrigue to your novel/story.
While I wouldn’t recommend this, as it can make your story too telly, if done well enough, it no longer makes showing the scene essential, and can add some shock, urgency, or suspense (depending on the scene) to your novel/story.