Stories within a story

My second Story Cubes Challenge entry is done, pending Kyrie reviewing it. I have a sneaking suspicion she’s going to want me to tweak the ending — and I’m kind of hoping she’s got a suggestion, because all I can see is that it isn’t working as well as it could. If it didn’t have to be up by Saturday, I’d set it aside for a few days, but the structure of the challenge…

But I’m also curious to see her reaction — and yours, once I post it — because I switched approaches partway through the story. The POV character, Riordan, is the town storyteller, the one who knows all the tales from the old days. Every small town has at least one person like that — often more than one. In this case, he’s telling two linked stories, both of which he was involved in. The first is written as him telling the story present day. The second is written flashback style, so we see it unfolding as it happened in the past. In the first, you keep the interaction between him and his audience. But you lose the immediacy of the story. In the second, we’re watching it, and it’s more engaging for that reason. But we don’t get to see how his audience reacts to the events of the story until it ends. When I rework this section to fit into Book 1, both will probably end up being told the same way, but I haven’t decided which is more effective. I’ll be interested to see what you guys think.

What’s your latest storytelling challenge? It can be structure, pacing, POV… Anything that is making you puzzle over the best approach to telling your story.

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4 thoughts on “Stories within a story

  1. I forever have to choose which POV is the strongest, the one that needs to tell a scene. I tend to write deep 3rd, and I want my reader to resonate with my characters immediately. Sometimes that means telling the initial scene from another POV, and I really struggle.

    What I’m trying to do now is conceptualize every scene and see it through that character’s eyes. It is a very visual exercise and is really challenging. I now have to visualize my characters more clearly. They tend to start out indistinct, but while picturing a scene as if it was a TV show or movie, I have to know mannerisms, etc.

  2. Wow, that is visual. Almost too visual for me, but then I’m the person who can read an entire book without ever getting a clear visual of any character and not care. Something about how my brain works.

    I’m another who writes deep 3rd, and choosing the right POV character can make or break a scene. Especially in a novel, where I try to limit the total number of POV characters to the protagonist and one or two main characters. Those decisions dictate so much of what happens and how it unfolds to readers that making a mistake there can derail a project. Same with the characters in the scene, even if they’re not the POV character.

    I had one scene in a novel-length fanfic (Razor’s Edge) that I had always envisioned as being between the two logical people. It was chapter 48 of 51. Had it in my head from Chapter 1 that it would be these two. I was just sitting down to write this critical scene, the one the entire story had been building to. And I realized I had the wrong two characters. Fortunately, it was another POV character that needed to be subbed in, so I didn’t have to restructure anything. But ever since, I’ve been very aware of POV and characters in a scene in the outline stage.

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