Episode 254: Point of View – It’s WAY more than 1st, 2nd, and 3rd


Danielle Kiowski, Shawn Coyne, Tim Grahl, Leslie Watts

Tim Grahl  00:00

Hello, and welcome to the Story Grid podcast. My name is Tim Grahl. And I’m your host, and I am the guy that does all the behind the scenes stuff here a Story Grid. And I’m a writer that’s trying to figure out how to tell a story that works. And joining me I have three people joining me, Shawn Coyne, he’s the creator of story grid and the founder of Story Grid, he wrote the book, The Story Grid. And then we have Danielle Kiowski. She’s the Chief Academic Officer at Story Grid universe. And we have Leslie Watts, the Editor-in-Chief at Story Grid Publishing, and Leslie is the one that’s going to be leading the way this week as we dive into point of view. So Leslie, I’m going to let you take it away.

Leslie Watts  00:45

Okay, great. So I want to start with the big picture, we’re going to talk about point of view analysis today. But I want to, I want to walk us back from where we started to where we are now. So we started with the five genre Clover leaves. And from that we generated what we call what we now called the pop. And that’s the proposition of possibility. And that proposition of possibility, or pop is what generates and constrains the problem space for the story. And the cool thing is that it also generates the spec sheet for the author. So that brings us down to narrative device. And with narrative device, we take that pop, and we we generate and constrain what I would call the the communication space in the narrative device. And so within that space, where we’re looking at communication from the author who has a specific identified role to Sam, our single audience member who’s also a very specific person, and and Sam has a problem. And that problem is reflected from the problem that we identify in the pop. From so from the narrative device, we get a what I’m calling right now and as if so it’s as if then we have the communication scenario. So in eyewitness by Ed McBain, the short story that we’re looking at, and that we’re helping you to, to use as a model for your own short story is, we have a it’s as if a seasoned detective is acting as a sovereign Threshold Guardian, sharing a written report with a young officer who has information that could bring someone to justice and and who wants to know how to signal that how to how to send up a flare, so to speak without becoming a target. So we, when we’re moving from the, we’ve got, again, the five genre Clover leaves into the pop into the narrative device. Now we want to transfer that or translate that into the point of view, which are the technical choices globally that we use to enact the story on the page. So it depends on what we’re doing. If we’re analyzing a story, we look at the text. And it’s kind of it’s a, it’s nice, because it’s easy. But when we’re generating a story, we really have to work from the from that as if that comes out of the narrative device. And then consider what person what tends and what mode choices make sense. So when we’re looking at point of view, getting we’re looking at what is the point of view, what is the person and the those broad options are first, second, and third, there are options within that obviously, there’s third omniscient, there’s a dramatic mode, which is also third. And of course, second is hardly ever used. So for lots of reasons that we won’t necessarily get into today. But you know, from reading that we don’t have that very often. So that’s the person point of view. And then we have the the tense which can be actually can be present, it can be past or it can be future, obviously present. And more so past are the the typical tenses that we see. And then the primary mode is where when we’re looking at the mode we’re looking at showing or telling So that’s kind of the broad overview of what we’re doing and what we’re engaging with today. So because we’re analyzing a story, not generating a story from scratch, we want to look at the text, but we want to come at it through the narrative device. So if you’re thinking, Tim, if you’re thinking about the seasoned detective who’s acting as a Threshold Guardian, and he’s sharing a written report, then we want to think about what point of view makes sense. In that context?

Tim Grahl  05:42

Are you asking? What is done in this particular story? Are we just asking globally from that, from that place of a narrative device? Which one should we be choosing?

Leslie Watts  05:57

Well, we want to talk about both. So so maybe so what what do you see when you look at the story?

Tim Grahl  06:04

It’s first person, because he’s using AI, right?

Leslie Watts  06:09

So is, can you think of reasons why that makes sense for this story, given our narrative device?

Tim Grahl  06:20

Well, first off, the author, who is the season detective. He’s giving, he’s giving a report of something that happened to him. So it makes sense for him to tell it. Nobody likes a person that talks about themselves in third person. So it makes sense for him to tell it as if it happened to him with using words like using the first person. And then I think, especially is giving a report and what we talked about last week, where we’re talking about the way he threaded the needle of giving a report without drawing a conclusion. I think, you know, a lot of times, we’ll just say, Well, you know, this is just my opinion, or this is just what I saw, it maybe isn’t what actually happened. So by him taking responsibility for what he saw, but not drawing a conclusion. It leaves this space of like, he’s not, he’s not saying this is what happened. He’s saying, This is what I saw.

Leslie Watts  07:25

Yeah, that’s great. Because what’s really interesting, I think about this, about this story is we have a first person narrator, who is not the protagonist. And he is capelli, in this case, is serving as a, he is serving as a witness. And that’s kind of what these reports are. Write a report is not by nature, these police reports are something that right, the officer is saying what they did, but what’s what’s most important, is what they observe. And so we’ve got really interesting levels of different levels of witnessing in this story that is about witnessing. So that’s really fun. But so we’ve got a first person narrative that is acting in a way, or it has some third person sensibilities, because the focus is not on capelli. And what he does the focuses on Struthers and what he does. So, Shawn, and Danielle, do you have anything you want to add to the discussion about about the point of view in this in this story? Or, or generally?

Shawn Coyne  08:55

Well, I would, I’m going to turn it over to Danielle. But a couple of things that that come to mind for me being the blue guy. And the blue guy means that I look for archetypical patterns. I look for the big sort of macro picture. And what I see that the the point of view does is that it’s it enables it, it’s the place by which Sam experiences the story. So Sam is going to feel through the story by the point of view. So the point of view choice is very important because it’s going to regulate Sam’s experience. So when we hear when we hear, let’s say somebody reports and they do use the third person, we when we hear that we have a different experience than if somebody shares a personal story right. So if somebody is saying people who live in this particular place like the cantaloupes and they’d like, you know, pork for on every Thursday, we go, oh, that’s sort of interesting. But if someone says, oh, did I ever tell you about my uncle and he lives in this place, and every Thursday night, it’s funny because when I went to visit him on Thursday night, we always had cantaloupes and pork, that there’s an anticipation in a first person narration, where you’re, you’re, you’re sort of holding on to the edge of your seat. And yes, and then what happened, right, whereas third person is very much a declarative kind of sensibility. That’s how we experience third person, as if someone’s, you know, giving us some facts. Whereas first person is very experiential. And so there’s a lot of advantages to first person narration, because it really brings Sam right to the edge of her seat. So that she, she’s almost experiencing it as in a similar continuity as the description of what happened. So that’s another thing to think of point of view, it can be tricky, because when we’re analyzing stories, as you said, Leslie, it’s pretty easy to pull out well, there’s an AI there. So it’s first person. But the other thing that you also did there is that you you layered on the second level of narration of capelli as not just serving as the first person explaining Struthers behavior. But also the narrator, as a third person observation of this is something that happened, and now I’m reporting what happened. So he’s playing two roles there capelli that are fascinating. And each has a specific role to play in the experience of Sam. So whenever we’re talking about sort of, like, we’ve got the five leaf, I’m just going to go up for a second just to sort of delineate the difference between story grid tools for the generation of a story that translate into story grid tools, that that modify and modulate the experience of Sam. Right. So we’ve got that five leaf genre Clover as a as a tool to generate and govern. So it governs the the the space, and then the way it’s experienced, is the pop. So that’s kind of a blue set of tools. And then we popped down into excuse the expression, we move down into the red. And we had narrative device as a tool for the author to govern and generate the story. And that enables a choice of the point of view, which is how Sam will experience it. So the pop is the experience for a whole slew of Sam’s. And the point of view is the experience for a single Sam. So that’s generally what I what I needed to add. And I’m sure Daniel has some some thoughts too.

Danielle Kiowski  13:22

Yeah, yeah, I do have some thoughts about the difference between first and third persons. So one thing that comes up for me is to look at the context of the story. And the point of view, not the context within the story. But I’m talking here about the genre context, and look at the point of view, as as a member of that genre. So what we find, generally, with these kind of gritty crime novels, or with private detective, stories, things like that, a lot of the time there first person. And so then, if we start to think, Well, why would that genre be in this particular point of view, and this is something that we can iterate for any genre and sub genre that we want to look at that that can be really helpful. And then, most importantly, also find the exceptions to that point of view, and look at how those stories are different. And then you can start to contrast what the author is trying to do in in each of these types of situations. And so one thing that stands out for me looking at this kind of detective fiction is, is that first versus third and I’m thinking about the Maltese Falcon, for example, as an exception to the rule, where it’s third person and then thinking about the experience of going through those different types of stories when you have the first person I As you said, Shawn you’re in, you’re kind of on the edge of your seat, because you are, you’re writing along with that person. And there’s an opponent process going on where it’s an explicit author. So it asks you to evaluate that evaluate the person of the author in a more explicit way than if it’s in third person, the author can kind of fade into the background, and you integrate with them more seamlessly, than as a conscious process of determining, determining how much you agree with the with the author, I think that’s one dynamic that’s going on. But also, you put yourself in their shoes more because you’re writing along with their interiority of their experience. Whereas in third person, you do pull back, and asks you to evaluate the events a little bit more. And so, so So what I mean by opponent process there is that there are components of these first and third person experiences that pull you closer, and that bring you farther away. And it. So overall, it gives it a different effect. And what I’m thinking about with these, with this story versus say The Maltese Falcon, is that in this story, we’re asked to simulate what it would be like to be capelli. And then make our own determination about what happens in the events of the story. Whereas in something like the The Maltese Falcon, I think that by by not having the explicit first person, were asked to pull back and look at the look at the system. But look at states and state as part of the system, whereas I think capelli stands apart from the system for us. This is the effects that that it has for me as as a reader. And I think that it makes sense dramatically to go back to what you’re pointing, pointing out literally about the witnessing function. That that it, it has to go back to what are controlling ideas and what kinds of dynamics we’re exploring, in the context of the story, and make sure that the author is participating in those dynamics. And that the method of how they convey the signal to Sam, allow Sam to participate in the dynamics as well.

Shawn Coyne  17:33

Can I Can I just pick up on that, because it’s just too juicy for me to let go. This goes to something that you you like to talk a lot about Leslie and I love when you do is the transparency to opacity shift, right? So first person, it’s sort of like my glasses, right? So I’m looking through my glasses right now. So they’re transparent to me, I don’t really see them until I pull back and I look at them, and now they’re opaque to me. Right? So first person enables to you to, to sort of go Sam, put on these glasses, right? And Sam puts on the glasses, and then she starts to see the context in the world through the eyes of capelli. Right. So she, she sort of places herself inside the anteriority of capelli. And it feels and I love that phrase as if it feels as if Sam is looking through the world through Capella his eyes. Whereas third person is more foreground and background, right. So what you’re doing is you’re getting the lay of the land, and you’re sort of moving across and seeing the opacity of particular pieces of content that are in the context and you’re evaluating each piece. And then you’re distorting the frame itself. So we’re we’re basically giving evidence to Sam. Well, here’s this thing over here. And here’s this thing over here. And here’s this thing over here. And then this thing says to this thing, this and then then Sam is like, Oh, wow, I wonder what that thing over there is going to do. So she’s sort of like, floating above the room, watching the behavior on the stage of this police department versus walking around like detective capelli and doing his job. So it’s a different experience. Right. And I was talking about the experience of point of view modulates the experience of Sam. So there are certain genres where, you know, maybe you don’t want to put Sam in a situation where she’s experiencing that terror of a victim in a particular way. So you know what, you know, you probably want to do what Stephen King does, and do a third person And, and have sort of Sam floating above watching instead of actually experiencing directly. So this is a beautiful story because it is about the witnessing function. And let’s remember, Sam is a witness to the story, just as compelling as a witness to the story. And so it’s this really nice, you know, fractal kind of movement of the witnessing function itself, and how its modulate it, and how we can manipulate it in a way to to affect change in each other and, and the world around us.

Tim Grahl  20:39

So when you’re saying that when you’re doing the glasses thing that made me think like, okay, so if we’re a third person, so for go back to last week, looking at the narrative device, the third person is like, I’m the author. And I’m going to look at all the avatars down on the stage, and I’m going to tell you everything that’s going on. So I’m wearing, he’s the author’s asking me to look through the glasses of the author, where a first person is playing both the role of the author but also one of the avatars on the stage. So now I’m shifting down to on the ground, looking at it, instead of looking down. That was the first thing. And then the second thing was thinking about how, when you talked about Stephen King, or when you brought up horror, I thought, I forgot the name of the book. I think it was the house that killed creek or something. It was the last horror book I read. I’m not a big horror reader. But I was thinking like, Well, that was also I got to see it happening from lots of different characters. And you can’t really do that in first person, I can’t switch to other first person views. Is that true as well?

Leslie Watts  21:58

Yeah. So with with first person, as you say, We’re locked into that, that individual as a character, and the cool thing is, within the narrative, you can, it takes very close reading, and it’s difficult. So I just want to say that right up front, but we can see when, from the text in a masterfully written story, when it’s the author who’s talking. And it’s, you know, so it’s author capelli. And when his avatar capelli. Right. So when, when author capelli is pointing down to you know, we’ve talked about the tabletop for the narrative device, before where we have the author on one side, and they and the single audience member on the other side, and the author is manipulating the, like the salt and pepper shaker and the little sugar packets on the table, and directing Sam’s attention there. And when that’s happening, that’s when that’s when author capelli is directing Sam’s attention to Avatar capelli, along with Struthers and McGruder, who are also there, right. And so you can tell that from from the narrative, and and as you say that there’s this, there is this limited perspective, right? capelli shouldn’t be sharing anything he doesn’t have. He doesn’t know or hasn’t heard from someone else. Right. So capelli can’t tell you, for example, just as a yeah, just for example. capelli can’t tell you exactly what Struthers saw. He can simulate it because he’s a detective. And he is he has probably heard lots of cases, but he can’t tell you about what Struthers saw. He can tell you he can look at Struthers and based on the context can say, oh this guy has seen a murder. This guy is haunted. Right? But he can’t but he cannot spin out those facts because Struthers has not shared those facts with him. So right that’s first person and I’ve had this idea just recently about how from, from our discussions that we’ve had, that we have this spectrum, and this is kind of a working hypothesis so far, but but to me on on the one side. Let’s see on the left side we have first person present showing narrative and that is someone who is Though overfit to the details to the present, to what’s happening right in front of them, that they can’t pull back. Right. So in given all of those three constraints, they over fit, they are they they are. So in the trees, they can’t see the forest at all. And that’s part of what the story is about. So you can see begin to see the connections between the problem that the story is about the narrative device, which is our kind of mental model for how it’s being told. And then when we drop down into how is this being told, it has to be told from the perspective of one who cannot see the forest yet. But you have other stories that are about the problems in the forest, and that who want to give you a greater perspective. And so in those stories, like a third person omniscient, like I’m thinking all the way to a third person, editorial omniscient, is where you can move all around the problem, you’re getting of much greater perspective. And the the author in that case is managing all those details, managing the whole world, whereas capelli, or someone like, you know, first person present tense, showing, like in The Hunger Games, right, she’s got no perspective. So you can kind of begin to see how all these pieces are working together.

Danielle Kiowski  26:45

Yeah, I wanted to jump in on a green thing on that point to, which is, when you have the, the first person who’s acting in authorial capacity and an avatar capacity, they experienced it first in, in that first person present tense, that was their original experience. And so they were very in the trees, right. And then even if you have them looking back at a later vantage point, what’s really interesting is that that asks the reader, Sam to think about the function of memory and about re the reframing of the relevance of the situation at a later vantage point. But what’s really fascinating is that because time moves on, you only get one shot at the sensory experience. So if, like, say that if I transported back in time, and I really experienced something that I had, that I experienced as my younger self, now, I would notice details that I didn’t notice then, just because of a different context, because of different life experience. And our authors don’t get to do that. So even though they’re looking back on it, they only get to, they only get to make sense of the details that they took in at the time, but they can reframe them. So it’s a very delicate balance there to create your informational strategy to make sure that that that that dual mode is consistent both with the mindset of the older person, and the sensory experience of the younger person.

Leslie Watts  28:28

Okay, well, since we’re dancing all around, tense, time intense, let’s get into that. So from the text. What is the what is the which tense are we working in? Are we working in present, past or future?

Tim Grahl  28:46

I think it’s pretty clear. It’s past tense. Both because of the narrative device we’ve talked about of he’s giving a report. So that’s a report of something that happened in the past all the languages there. I feel like this is a little bit like, I’m in the middle of a calculus test and like a two plus two equals shows up and I’m like, Okay, are you trying to trick me here? Because this one’s easy compared to all the other questions.

Leslie Watts  29:14

We are not trying to trick you. It is past but but we can be more specific. So the past can be broken down into what happened a moment ago. What happened yesterday, what happened two weeks ago and on and on and on, right back to the dawn of time. Right. So if you’re thinking about this, our scenario, what do you think, what kind of timespan are we looking at?

Tim Grahl  29:41

When you said two weeks that kind of hit me? I think it’s something that’s happened. Recent enough that all the details are still fresh, but long enough that I’ve been able to figure out what’s worth talking about or not right. So if you ask me The moment after something happens, I might just spew all kinds of things on you, and only half of the matter. So if you’re writing a report on something, it’s, again, recent enough where I remember the details. But a little bit of time has gone through to let me think through what’s actually relevant. And in this particular case, being extremely careful about what is given to make it relevant.

Leslie Watts  30:26

Yes, absolutely. And what I love that you’ve picked up on there is that is it’s not just perspective, but it’s also metabolizing. So when something unexpected happens, I mean, unless we’re some kind of superhero, we’re, and even then we’re not going to process it or be able to make sense of it right away, we have to go through that. So a so again, if we refer back to the Hunger Games, right, she, Katniss doesn’t have any time to process that stuff. What’s happening in the moment, right now she is, it’s coming at her. And she responds. And, of course, that is Sam’s experience to that when we talk about, we talk about a fourth wall break, right in, in theater. And when someone on the stage is directly addressing the audience, and that’s kind of that’s not cool most of the time, right? It’s a kind of a weird thing, but it does happen. But if we think of that, that wall as being very, very thin, and in the case of The Hunger Games, because of the the quality of the point of view choices, that it’s a very thin veil. So we are not as as the audience, we’re not very well protected from what’s happening. And the, and the events feel like they’re really coming at us too. Whereas if you have a something, you know, events in the distant past, the the physical effects of that have already played out. So we’re not so it doesn’t feel like it there. It’s coming at us in the same way. So we have, yeah, so we have the rate of metabolism for the actual author. But then we also have, what’s that effect on Sam, that we’re that we’re seeing?

Tim Grahl  32:39

Well, since you brought up the fourth wall, I think it’s worth talking a little bit about and when it makes sense to break it, because whenever I think fourthwall now, all I the first thing that pops in my head are the Deadpool movies, and I don’t know if you’ve seen them, but like, none of the other, you know, superhero not, or movies, or break that fourth wall that I’m aware of, but Deadpool does it and it creates this aura of like, none of this is actually very serious or matters, because he’s constantly just joking with you about the fact that what you’re seeing is it doesn’t matter. And I mean, it’s even they do it so well, because it’s even in the credits, where it’s like, you know, directed by some douchebag, you know, written by the real heroes. And then like he’s like making fun of Wolverine in it. Which you know, in real life, Ryan Reynolds has this beef with huge this fake beef with Hugh Jackman. But anyway, I just would like to hear kind of your thoughts on you know, we don’t have to go too deep into it. But just when, when is a good time to connect? What, what role or what is that tool good for breaking the fourth wall, right? If each of these are a tool, and when we’re trying to think about the type of story we’re trying to tell, we can run this hero toolbox and pull out the right tool for the job. When would you reach for that breaking the fourth wall tool?

Leslie Watts  34:12

Oh, that’s such a great question. So if we think about what what functionally breaks, the fourth wall is using second person, whether we are actually using the pronoun, you ought to do this, or, you know, that kind of thing. When we’re talking directly to someone. It’s because we want a response from them. We need something from them or we or we that’s that it’s going out to someone so we can get something back. So it’s in the context of a confession, and this is just in human communication. We’re talking about Confession, but we’re also talking about when we’re making an accusation. And we could be imploring someone, right, you, you have to see this, you know, like when you have somebody by the lapels and you’re shaking them to try to get them to wake up, that you also see this in, in literature, you see it in, in the choose your own adventures, and that’s when we’re, we’re really pulling the audience in. Right. And, and so we don’t like to do that very often because it is uncomfortable. But so it’s along the lines of when you when you want to pull the reader or the, the audience member out of the story, let them actually have the, the transparency to opacity shift of, you’re not looking at, you’re not looking through the glasses, right now, I want you to look at the glasses, I want you to think about how you’re thinking about this problem. That’s the moment when you’re when you can. When you can risk because it’s a big risk, every time you pull the odd the audience member out of that narrative, right, they’re gonna they they’re going to put the book down, it’s, you know, it’s a risk if they’re going to stop. So you only do it when it’s most important when they have to see

Shawn Coyne  36:31

this. Another example is to so the verbs that Lesley were was using were really important and key. So there’s, implore accuse all those sort of another one is to reassure. So Tolkien is a master of breaking fourth wall and The Hobbit, because his he was managing the experience of Sam very well. And that’s what enabled him to be able to break the fourth wall and say, Don’t worry, all Bilbo is going to be okay. Because he says that, because he doesn’t want the experience of the children listening to the story to be so specific to them, that they get too scared. Right? So you wants to really manage. Bilbo turned out all right, in the end, kids. So I know this is scary for now, but hang in there. So it’s a reassurance. And as Leslie said, breaking the fourth wall. Now, the Deadpool movies are extraordinarily violent, right? There’s a lot of blood, there’s a lot of death, there’s a lot of mayhem. And so part of how they’re enabling Sam to enjoy that is to have Ryan Reynolds break fourthwall and go, Hey, it’s gonna be cool. And that way we can not experience the the presencing of that violence at the level that it truly is. And what you’ll discover today, when you when you’re when you’re seeing those sorts of films, now, they’re very high, highly stylized, that violence. So it’s almost dance as opposed to real violence. So there’s, because I’ll just make a blue leap up here, I’m going to go macro on you, okay. So, in our culture today, violence as a phenomena is very much trying to be managed. And all of us have very violence is not allowed. And so we’re all trying to manage this, this violence spectrum. And so, but we also know violence is is real and it exists, and it’s true, and it happens. So, because we’re managing it such that we’re all clamping down on all of our violent instincts, and instead of acting out violently, that that we’re, as Freud would say, We’re repressing it. And so what you’ll find is that in our art in our films in our books, that violence takes a very large center stage. And so people like the darkness now, everyone wants that new Dark Batman movie or that that new dark this is super dark, though. You wouldn’t believe what John Wick doesn’t this one, right? He’s gonna do this and that and the blood splats and it’s awesome. Right. And so we have to have a means by which we can metabolize the the existence and reality of the violent truth of the world. Because the natural world is a very violent place. There’s evolution requires a lot of death. And it’s violent, and it’s disturbing. So because we’re clamping down and commanding and control the violent impulses in our culture, our art starts to reflect the the lack of our being able to witness that if you will. So part of the fourth wall breaking for Deadpool is to enable us to get our violence recognition system and to recognize the patterns of it without it becoming too traumatic for us emotionally. And then we can walk out of the movie theater and have dinner without being like, whoa, Holy guacamole that was violent. Right? And we can laugh about it. So, you know, I have I have thoughts about that, you know, ethically, but we don’t need to get into that. But that’s another reason why you you have the fourth wall break. Initially, I think the fourth wall was sort of broken by Greek theater, when they would have Deus Ex macchina. And, you know, somebody would come on and say, and then the god Apollo came down and solve these problems for people. So it has a very long tradition. And it’s about what managing the experience of Sam, such that the present or the past, or the future is not too traumatic, just traumatic enough, but not too much. Just exciting enough, but not over the top, just enough anxiety, but not too much. Right. So it’s this very tight dance of modulation of experience of Sam, that we use point of view to, to help us modulate it right. So you’ve got your, your person, what person and then you’ve got your tense. And then lastly, I’ll turn it back to to Lesley, unless Danielle has any anything to add there?

Danielle Kiowski  42:23

No, I think I think that’s a really great exploration of what happens with that fourth wall break. And and we’ve talked to Well, I guess I guess I do have a thought. To bring it down to the green two is is about that. We’ve talked about all these different things that the fourth wall break can do. We’ve talked about and they run the emotional spectrum from imploring to confession to, you know, reassurance, right, all of all of the things that we’ve talked about. And I think that it’s worth just noting that this is a very, very powerful tool. And it is a non, it’s not specific in that it runs that full spectrum. So when you’re implementing it, it’s very important to consider all of those potential effects and be very careful with your language. Because you don’t want to come across as condescending, if you are trying to be reassuring, you don’t want to come across as confessional if you want to be imploring and so. So when we talk about really fine green, meaning on the surface, word level, kinds of analysis and considerations, we, we do that, in particular, and key moments of the story. And anytime that you break the fourth wall, you create a key moment. So even if it’s a lower energy time, by doing that you make it really pivotal for your audience. So just just a word of caution that if you’re going to do it, you have to be very careful because it is a very, very powerful tool.

Leslie Watts  44:06

Okay, so now we move on to the mode and that we have two options, but it’s more like a spectrum. So, we have showing and telling. So, what do you see in the text? And then how are you making sense of that, in light of the narrative device.

Tim Grahl  44:30

Also, for this one, I had to go back to the article you wrote about narrative path and specifically about the point of view and mode, because, you know, I get these kind of mixed up. So you said showing is an objective and immediate mode that creates the effect of being present and observing the events of the story and telling as a subjective mode that readers experiences if someone or something is collecting collating and sharing the events and circumstances of the story. So, when I was thinking through that, I landed more on showing because this is an objective, you know, just the facts telling of the story you don’t hear much about, you don’t hear anything about appellees emotions or thoughts or feelings about what’s going on. But at the same time, this is where I get a little iffy, because even the, you know, it’s one of these things, you know, to make this about a much bigger subject. When people talk about, you know, I wish we just had objective journalism. And it’s like, well, even just choosing what stories you’re going to tell is a form that moves into subjective immediately, right, there’s too much going on in the world to keep track of. So just by you choosing what what stories to share, you’re being subjective, even if once you’re in there, you’re as objective as possible. And so in this, it’s like, it comes across as objective. But still, he, like even what we talked about last week, we it’s obvious, he has an opinion. And he’s trying to give the opinion without directly giving the opinion. So when you said it was a spectrum, I kind of liked that, because so I feel like if we’re on a spectrum of showing and telling, you know, it’s definitely on the showing side, because he’s not forthright with his feelings and emotions and thoughts on things. So he’s just giving you what happened. But there’s always to me, there’s always going to be an element of telling, because by choosing what to put in the story, and what not to put in the story is a subjective experience.

Leslie Watts  46:52

Yes, absolutely. That’s a great point. And so I would say the spectrum is important. And also I would say, if when we’re talking about objective or subjective is what are we simulating, right, we’re simulating someone in a report where they are trying to present the facts objectively, now they have a subject, as you said, they have a they have a point of view capelli has a very clear point of view, and that he is trying to pepper in, you know, in sprinkle in between the lines, so to speak. But, but he’s simulating a document that should give only the facts, because and police officers are, from my experience from my other life, is police officers are very careful about what they put in reports, because these are going to be introduced in court because they are discoverable. And so they they do their best to just state what, you know, what have I actually observed? What have I actually learned. And so that’s what we feel. So if we talk about it, in the sense we get from it, or what we feel from the narrative, it is toward that the what we would say the showing end of that spectrum. And the right the showing, like, if we talk about very extreme showing in narrative, the dramatic mode is like a camera. Right? But even a camera has a point of view, because someone has placed it in a certain position to, to record events, and or, you know, yeah, to recruit events. You know, from a from a perspective, and so, in that there is always a subjective element, but it is it is a lot more objective than say the, you know, the bedtime storyteller, the, the, to think of other examples, but you know, that that we see, oh, for example. Oh, and this was something I was going to talk about that, that the, the narration and Treasure Island is similar in a way to what we have here. It’s a first person, past tense, but it is telling mode, right? But it is also recording officially what happened, but it has the effect of telling because there’s a lot more subjective qualification in evaluation that you see in that narrative.

Tim Grahl  49:59

Yeah, I’m reading right now, the Shadow of the Wind. And I feel like now that we’re having this discussion, I feel like that lends more towards telling, and actually makes me think of the show The Goldbergs. Because all the characters in that show are so over the top. And I was always curious, like curious, like, man, all these characters are so over the top like crazy over the top. Why does this work so well. And then when we were first going through the 624 analysis, and you were teaching me at a few months ago, I was like, oh, it’s because he’s telling it from like this eight year old version of himself, right? He’s going back in from his point of view, when he was eight, everything is over the top. And I feel like that with the Shadow of the Wind, is it starts when he’s like, six, but most of the stories when he’s like, middle teens, and everything is bigger everything is, you know, this person is the smartest person I’ve ever known, this place is the most horrible thing I’ve ever seen, because it really is, because they haven’t gotten old enough to have more experience. And so as I’m reading it, it’s like so heavily valence that I’m like, like, I’m there for it. But at the same time, I’m understanding like, this is not if I was watching this through a camera, I would see something different than watching it through this character’s eyes.

Leslie Watts  51:23

Exactly. Exactly. Danielle, Shawn, do you have anything you want to add to this?

Shawn Coyne  51:31

Well, I would just like to reinforce the point that you made earlier, Lesley with Tim’s last comment, when Leslie said that first person present is overfitting to the data. That’s what she meant. So the Shadow of the Wind and The Goldberg example that you just used is an example of a first person narration, which is highly valence. And it doesn’t have much nuance because you’re experiencing as it’s flooding in. And and that’s usually the way we do. We have sort of Valence qualia, right. Is this pleasurable? Or is this going to be painful, right? So that’s the first way that we divide aspect of any object or subject that is unexpected to us. We have mainly boil it down, is this something to approach or avoid? I’m going to approach it if it has a tinge of enlivening pleasure, I’m going to avoid it. If it has a tinge of depletion, it’s, it’s going to be hurtful, it’s going to rob me of energy. So I want to stay away from the thing that’s going to suck energy out of me. And I’m going to move toward that which will bring me energy. So that’s our valence way in which we we mobilize our navigational systems. So when something unexpected comes to us, we don’t have nuance. We don’t have new ones aspect of, of a particular being or object. So this thing, when you first see it, do you know that this is a calculator? No. Do you know that this is a communication device? No. Do you know that this is a camera? No. Do you know that this is a gift that you can give someone? No. Do you know that this could be a weapon? No. What do you see? See something a shiny object that has a red case and some things on the back? And it’s kind of interesting. It might, it’s not depleting. It’s kind of neat. Oh, let me hold it. Oh, right. So that is sort of an example of an unexpected thing that would like there’s a really fun movie from years ago called The Gods Must Be Crazy. And it’s about this, this guy in this plane and he throws a coke bottle out the window and it lands. And these group of people who don’t have contact with with Western civilization come upon the bottle. And they’re like, Wow, where did this come from? Right. And they’re, they’re specializing the coke bottle. And then they don’t know where it came from. And so they’re like, this is a new mineral event. We’ve never seen anything like this. And so they initially are like, should we approach should we avoid what should we do? How should we handle this as this pleasure? Oh, I can make a sound out of it. It’s a flute. Oh, I think it could be you know, it knocks me on that right? So that’s the way we ever Our beings confront the unexpected is that we start with very clearly delineated, good, bad. pleasure, pain, approach avoid. And then as we get older, we, we get more aspect to the things. And so it’s not just like, Don’t approach when don’t go see dad, the minute he got home from work, let them chill out for a little while before you ask him for keys to the car. Right? So dad takes on more aspects in temporality over time, right? So dad at a particular part of the day is different than dad in other parts of the day. And dad isn’t all good or all bad dad has modulations. Of Approach And avoid, right. And so that’s what what happens to that’s called maturing developing. Right? So developing isn’t just getting taller, or you know, weighing more, it’s about having a building out portfolios of aspectual isation of the world and the objects and subjects in your world such that you can delineate these nuances and fractals, of objective and subjective aspect to all of those incredible, weird, wonderful things in your world. So if you’re doing a narration of a child, the way a child aspectual realizes the world is much more black and white, than a 73 year old woman who’s telling the story of what it was like when she was a little girl, she’s going to really be able to pull the relevance filter in a way that when she was little, she can’t really, she just remembers the, you know, the smells of the kitchen. And maybe, you know, she’s got to really think it through to be able to, to build the relevant pieces of a story that could actually tell us about how she came to be who she is at 73 and maybe a really important event in her life, that framed the way she approached her life. And how it took her some time to be able to metabolize that framing such that it became another aspect of her life instead of the controlling aspect of her life. So, all of all that Leslie has been talking about is the spectrum of first person into third person and second person member when you brought up the fourth wall, what came up second person, second person is the means by which we try to have inter subjective communication. Using things like please imploring or reassuring or accusing, or you if you only did that, right, and as as Danielle pointed out, when we use that tool, we’ve got to be very careful. Because what are we doing? We’re calling out we’re shooting a target a particular energy at Sam and no one likes somebody firing things at them. And you definitely shouldn’t do it indiscriminately. You don’t you don’t fire things that your children like, Hey, let me tell you this. Your you don’t do that indiscriminately because then it’s too traumatizing but you can do it in a way where you go hey, I’m concerned about you. Tell me what you think should we should do about this? And it puts them what it puts them in the oh my gosh, I guess I have to think about the way I’m thinking think about my behavior and then process that thinking about the way I’m thinking and then communicate about Well, Dad, I think when you were doing this it wasn’t very nice to me because of this mother. Oh, okay. Right. So you have a communication where you can build up as opposed to you know, breaking down so fourth wall breaking is a is a very specific tool and you got to be careful about it because it does become highly salient to Sam just like yelling at your kid you never put the way the milk the right way you know? And your kids gonna be like, Whoa, why just got a glass and know what’s up so that that That’s really cool. So this this, it does seem like point of views the easy stuff to answer. Right? It’s not, you gotta be very careful, because Sam experiences your narration through the point of view choices that you’re making. So it’s not just like, Yeah, first person present and tell. That’s it? No, no, no, you got to really think it through. Because all of these are spectrums of value, and how much nuance you’re going to bring to Sam. That’s why you need to know who Sam is. If Sam is seven years old, you speak to Sam in a different way than if Sam is 72. Because the 72 year old, Sam sees the world in much more bright, new, much more nuance than the seven year old Sam does.

Danielle Kiowski  1:00:56

Yeah, I also wanted to pick up on that and talk about that we’ve talked about the author and their position and talked about Sam her position. But we also have the relationship between them. And that affects the mode as well. So when we have telling, Sam gets all of the evaluations of the author and gets a lot of help from the author, to figure out what is going on. And you know, Tim, as you pointed out in in the story, it’s leaning towards showing where there’s not a lot of evaluation. So then who has to do the evaluation, Sam. And when you’re asked to evaluate something, the feeling that comes across as it’s, it’s an evaluation of your evaluation. It’s a test, right. And so what I want to do is connect that back to what we talked about in previous weeks about what’s the narrative device. And we talked about the difference between a mentor and a Threshold Guardian. And this, when we talk about archetypes like that, their roles, they’re not people inherently. So one person can play a mentor role, at times can play a Threshold Guardian role at times. So you could have the exact same author. And they could be in a mentor role, or they could be in a Threshold Guardian role, and what’s going to determine what role they’re playing is their relationship to Sam, and their intentions in that relationship towards Sam. So when we have something like Treasure Island, where it’s more about the avoidance of pitfalls, it’s more about giving Sam a caring hand up in the world. That’s going to be that telling mode, where it’s this pre packaged devaluation. This is how you should see the world. And then, through the sacred technology of story, it avoids being preachy, it avoids being propositional, just don’t be a pirate kids, but instead gives them a way into that story, where they’ll they’ll pick up that evaluation of the author. Whereas when something is told from a Threshold Guardian perspective, like this story, there’s care for Sam and management of Sam’s experience, but there’s also a defense of the context. It’s about giving Sam a test to make sure that this Sam is right for the context. So when we talked about it, being a young detective or someone who’s on the cusp of entering this context, the author is giving Sam an opportunity to show whether she’s ready to be in this context, or whether she should wash out. And that’s, that’s born out of that dual consideration where we could imagine that someone who really cares about like, say that we have the same author, but it’s capelli, his nephew, who’s joining the force, he might choose a telling mode, because his care for Sam as a person is much stronger than his care for the the balance of the system. And he might say, kid get out, you know, and that would be a package devaluation instead of letting Sam have a choose your own adventure kind of moment, which is more the Threshold Guardian mode.

Leslie Watts  1:04:37

Yeah, and along those lines, there’s the there’s the idea of protection. Right. There’s with with you when you have more declarative showing that the the audience member is getting has to work harder to derive the meaning from from what’s being shown, and also isn’t protected by collapsing that meaning into a clear statement like get out of here kid, right? And in showing evaluative that the the author is packaging that is protecting Sam from the harsh details because you know that are context dependent. But that that’s it’s part of that. That package. Yeah, that’s great


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Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.


Is this your first crack at writing and finishing your book? Are you lost on how to tackle this project? This is the place to start.