Narration and Writing Choices
Myself as a person, I’m sarcastic and blunt so it’s hard to make characters who are NOT sarcastic and blunt. I’ll try to introduce a variety of speaking styles to reflect real life.
In “The Overzealous Healer” (TOH), the narrator is a 3rd-person omniscient/limited hybrid. Technically omniscient, since it knows the surface-level thoughts of each character and the words they choose to omit. However, even the narrator doesn’t know everything and is more like a spirit roaming the world with limited mind-reading powers, occasionally adding on cultural references and assumptions of this foreign world. Hiding information is definitely a literary trick that keeps suspense.
Also, there’s the fact that some people don’t think with words; they don’t have verbal thoughts unless they’re talking. So it would be interesting to describe someone’s thought process that is wordless with words, and hopefully I can incorporate this into a character.
I chose present tense for the story because I originally wanted to make it into a webcomic, but I’m too impatient to plan and draw everything out. If it’s not obvious, the whole story is written from an outline, so it resembles a screenplay or a comic script more than a novel. Why did I choose to write instead of draw? Quite frankly, I’m lazy and I’m not a professional, so I don’t have extensive reference photos to whip out for complicated poses, nor do I have the time to render every background. Still, I hope to add illustrations and visuals in the future, and I can flesh in literary details at a later date. I’m a firm believer that a picture is worth a thousand words, and brevity is wit.
One of my inspirations is Prequel ( http://www.prequeladventure.com/). I don’t think I’ll get as far as adding minigames to the site like Prequel does, but basically it takes advantage of the web format and the author directly quotes reader input, so it’s unique and engaging to the community. I do think the rambling of 1st person gets excessive, and it is a fanfiction that relies on inside-references of an established universe (The Elder Scrolls), so that helps with its popularity.
I’ve become aware of “head-hopping syndrome,” or the tendency of writers to switch perspectives multiple times in the same scene. I checked over my work and there’s certainly many perspective changes. I will try to keep this in mind in the future and make the perspective shifts clear. Of course, the other answer is to avoid describing people’s thoughts and just stick to inner dialogue so I don’t have to deal with it. 😛
The Markdown format of web publishing comes with ample spacing for each paragraph, so each dialogue line looks lonely and invites me to write more. I use a predictable format of action-dialogue, so internal dialogue is either a continuation of a character’s existing dialogue, a precursor to dialogue or action (if the scene focuses on one person and it’s obvious), or explicitly stated in the case of multiple characters (Wow, Sam thinks). Hopefully this structure will make it clear who is thinking what and reduce head-hopping headaches.
World Building #
I made a whole 3 continents worth of landmass and the TOH story only takes place in 1-3 smallish countries? Maybe in the future the characters will travel farther but that’s the limit I’ve put on the scope. I had a lot of trouble coming up with names; if it isn’t obvious I just ripped off Latin for the current country of Rubrum. The rest of the continent has random names that should be easy to pronounce, and linguistic similarities are clustered so you can tell certain regions influence each other or share similar cultures.
People from Rubrum tend to have a mix of names due to its location on the coast and access to sea travelers, so this reason gives me creative freedom to have whatever fantasy name I want, names that would be weird in real life.
I’ve conceded to my rushed, technical and forced style, and I’ll probably go back to earlier chapters to add prose and details. Still, I would rather just use a photo if I need to literally “show, not tell.” I’m absolutely trash at world building since I hate writing prose about the environment. I don’t really give a damn about my environment in real life unless I’m in danger, so this might alienate readers who want a sense of immersion. Since I am not that creative, the world in TOH is basically Earth without skyscrapers, with different names for the countries, with magic, and with modern English language.
I don’t want to think of too many fancy terms and I would rather use the modern day equivalent. I’m already reeling at using “paycoin” instead of “paycheck,” but again, immersion. There’s also the frequent use of “adrenaline.” I’ve already used it twice, so I’ll probably cut down on it. Medieval people wouldn’t know what “adrenaline” is, although since only the narrator says that word I think it’s fine. But I should describe the physical sensation of bloodrush and reckless abandon and sudden strength that comes with that hormone. Finally, I kept debating on whether to use “concussion” or “brain rattle,” and I decided they will be interchangable.
Hopefully I can use my natural bluntness to simulate realistic perception, that is, the most important events and objects get the most description. Like in art, the forefront is usually drawn clear and detailed and the background is muddy or faded because it’s not important. So in writing, intense and important scenes and objects will get a lot of description (or if the character is in a state of paranoia), but everything else won’t.
I’m not a big fan of stream-of-consciousness, but I realize my personal speech and writing has a lot of filler and it’s very rambly. My finished work has strict diction choices and I know I can make it read nicely for even boring topics. All in all, I hope people will enjoy the story. Story plot is 50% and execution is the other 50% of what makes good fiction, so this will be an interesting journey. At least, I will write the story as something I want to read to my tastes, and anyone else with similar tastes can enjoy it too. Basically, lots of character interaction, fight scenes, and juvenile drama that makes you wonder how we’re still chugging along on this planet, mixed with hope that redeems your faith in humanity.
Also, juvenile problems tend to become adult problems. The problems that don’t get solved easily, anyway.