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Third Person Limited Conundrum (1 Viewer)

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I hope I can explain this clearly. For some reason I can only bring my b-game to forum posts. Here's the problem:

Yarrod suddenly finds himself in the middle of a desert. His mind has been wiped and all he has is the scent of where he just came from. He digs deep to try and find a memory and does in fact realise he usually has a horse. Other than that, if he continued his story from that point onward, all he'd know is he had a horse and everything I introduce could not be named or understood by Yarrod. Remember, this is third person limited.

What memories he needs are implanted at the end of the process, hence 'And when all was done and settled, he knew but few things … and knew them well.' This legitimises him knowing about Stitch, Sorrow his gun, the red handkerchief, the Dunnuk, the Storm and so forth. This is the 'and knew them well'.

But a recent comment has left me wondering. It seems, and not only here, that people are not making the connection between 'and knew them well' and the detail that follows through the course of the first chapter. They feel as if I'm holding that detail back when in fact they're actually reading through what he's remembered.

How the hell do I deal with that?
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
What memories he needs are implanted at the end of the process
Is this process of implantation described in the text? Or is this a explanation to us, observers outside the experience of reading the text, to explain the story plot mechanics behind the character's consciousness? Linking the original text under consideration would help answer.

But a recent comment has left me wondering
Can you quote or link the comment so we can see for ourselves, look for nuances that might guide inquiry? Perhaps it is simple miscommunication? Perhaps the commenter misread the text, or perhaps their comment was misconstrued? (Might be even the particular commenter was disengaged and therefore the comment a distraction.) A view on the original comment would help.

people are not making the connection between 'and knew them well' and the detail that follows through the course of the first chapter. They feel as if I'm holding that detail back when in fact they're actually reading through what he's remembered.
Can you point to, link, or quote the text allowing us to read the possible-problem and maybe see for ourselves what is transpiring? Some wider view than the in-text and stylistic 'And when all was done and settled, he knew but few things … and knew them well.' Might be a matter of the difference between "knowing" and "remembering"? The original text might help clarify for us.

Interested in the problem. Guidance to the original texts should help. Thanks in advance.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Is this process of implantation described in the text? Or is this a explanation to us, observers outside the experience of reading the text, to explain the story plot mechanics behind the character's consciousness? Linking the original text under consideration would help answer.


Can you quote or link the comment so we can see for ourselves, look for nuances that might guide inquiry? Perhaps it is simple miscommunication? Perhaps the commenter misread the text, or perhaps their comment was misconstrued? (Might be even the particular commenter was disengaged and therefore the comment a distraction.) A view on the original comment would help.


Can you point to, link, or quote the text allowing us to read the possible-problem and maybe see for ourselves what is transpiring? Some wider view than the in-text and stylistic 'And when all was done and settled, he knew but few things … and knew them well.' Might be a matter of the difference between "knowing" and "remembering"? The original text might help clarify for us.

Interested in the problem. Guidance to the original texts should help. Thanks in advance.
You'll just have to take my word for it. Can you think of a solution?
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
I don't know if you like this solution but what if he recorded his thoughts in some form or he meets someone just like him who is in the same predicament? He, Yarrod, could keep notes of his memories of he discovers that the curse could potentially kill him by making him forget his enemies. The person or people he meets could be dead such as a ghost or ghosts. He could discover the ghost that scares him that reminds him of his fate. It has ethical implications of wiping out such a memory every cycle when he "perishes". Maybe he left loved ones behind which would be the stakes. They thought they were abandoned by him. I hope this sounds like a solution. Or he could have a "living ghost" like him. Could be a group of people like him that are slowly murdered because of the person that can travel between rifts. Such notebooks could be relics of the victims like Yarrod. Maybe this sends Yarrod on quests to find ghosts like him living or dead.
 
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TheMightyAz

Mentor
I don't know if you like this solution but what if he recorded his thoughts in some form or he meets someone just like him who is in the same predicament? He, Yarrod, could keep notes of his memories of he discovers that the curse could potentially kill him by making him forget his enemies. The person or people he meets could be dead such as a ghost or ghosts. He could discover the ghost that scares him that reminds him of his fate. It has ethical implications of wiping out such a memory every cycle when he "perishes". Maybe he left loved ones behind which would be the stakes. They thought they were abandoned by him. I hope this sounds like a solution. Or he could have a "living ghost" like him. Could be a group of people like him that are slowly murdered because of the person that can travel between rifts. Such notebooks could be relics of the victims like Yarrod.
The problem isn't the mechanism. I've had two comments now mentioning that I should let the reader know what the information is that comes into his head.

And when all was done and settled, he knew but few things … and knew them well.

They think I'm withholding this information but I'm not, they're reading the information in the opening chapter. The information is about his gun, Sorrow, Stitch, the handkerchief, the storm the Dannuk etc. These two posters didn't make the connection between the information he was given and what they read. This is third person limited and if I don't mention he retains some information, then he'd basically be walking through the desert with no knowledge of anything at all.
 

Theglasshouse

WF Veterans
Do you think reading a notebook would give him purpose to go in that desert? Maybe what is in the notebook is a diary he used to keep which would enable you to keep the carefully crafted prose you write with much care. I hope that would make it more credible.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Do you think reading a notebook would give him purpose to go in that desert? Maybe what is in the notebook is a diary he used to keep which would enable you to keep the carefully crafted prose you write with much care. I hope that would make it more credible.
When Yarrod is recycled by the storm, he appears and has his memory wiped. It's blank. He's a clean sheet with literally nothing in his mind. The only memories that return are those connected with everything he's constantly connected with: The gun, the crow, the handkerchief etc. On top of this he has the imperative curse which drives him on to hunt Dannuk. He remembers the storm because it's the very thing that recycles him but he doesn't know it recycles him.

So, in order to move him from a state of having nothing in his head to a state of him having information enough to tell the story in the first chapter, I tell the reader he knows few things but well. Then the reader goes on to read that information.

I've had two comments from people suggesting I need to let the reader know what that information was instead of holding it back. I'm not holding it back, they're reading it.
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
Interested in the problem. Guidance to the original texts should help. Thanks in advance.
You'll just have to take my word for it.
Okay then. There will be no discussion.

I'll toss my shiny two bits into the third-person limited fountain and walk away.

(You realize the problem is in the mechanics of the plot device, right? That contradiction of both being wiped clean with each cycle and being not wiped clean with each cycle?) (rhetorical questions. to be no discussion)

Can you think of a solution?

A solution to the problem of...
people are not making the connection between 'and knew them well' and the detail that follows
...might be in the writing.

One might write things to help people make and hold the missed connection.

To do this one might illuminate the strangeness of "remembering" something he can't know.

Rather like déjà vu; "a feeling of having already experienced the present situation"

It's a feeling; not a fact. (exploiting a very popular dichotomy these days)

And, since it is not a remembered fact it is not "wiped clean" upon reset. It's a feeling. Part of his psyche, not his memory.

He exists separate from his memories, obviously. So what is it that exists after a reset? Everything not a memory.

Déjà vu. Write some coolly stylistic déjà vu in there.

Good luck.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Okay then. There will be no discussion.

I'll toss my shiny two bits into the third-person limited fountain and walk away.

(You realize the problem is in the mechanics of the plot device, right? That contradiction of both being wiped clean with each cycle and being not wiped clean with each cycle?) (rhetorical questions. to be no discussion)



A solution to the problem of...

...might be in the writing.

One might write things to help people make and hold the missed connection.

To do this one might illuminate the strangeness of "remembering" something he can't know.

Rather like déjà vu; "a feeling of having already experienced the present situation"

It's a feeling; not a fact. (exploiting a very popular dichotomy these days)

And, since it is not a remembered fact it is not "wiped clean" upon reset. It's a feeling. Part of his psyche, not his memory.

He exists separate from his memories, obviously. So what is it that exists after a reset? Everything not a memory.

Déjà vu. Write some coolly stylistic déjà vu in there.

Good luck.
This is third person limited. In third person limited, you deal with the main character (or the POV you're currently in) in the same way you do first person. He/she cannot know anything they shouldn't know. That would be the author (me) stepping in and breaking the rules of third person limited.

So, in order to make sure he has enough information to tell the story of the first chapter, I begin the chapter by mentioning memories of the last place he was in diminishing. After this a few memories appear. These memories are the memories he always gets back and they're to do with everything he's always connected with: His gun, his Crow, his handkerchief, what he wears, the Dannuk, the storm and his horse. But this time, he hasn't got the horse. That's the first time he's remembered something that isn't there.

Those two people didn't make the connection between the memories he gets back and the detail in the chapter itself. They thought I was holding that information back: 'And when all was done and settled, he knew but few things … and knew them well.'

I wasn't holding that information back, the information was being used to write the first chapter.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
This is just my opinion, but I almost said “you’ve got to connect those” last night and I was thinking of how I would do that.
I think you can handle it a few ways. You can take the line off and start the next paragraph:

“When all was said and done Yarrod knew few things but knew them well: a crow by the name of Stich, that he was sworn to kill the Dannoon… “ And then after you list them like that basically have a paragraph addressing each thing.

I have a suggestion that maybe Yarrod has some kind of method to continue to remember these few things. Repeating lines always makes them stand out and makes the reader look for the same thing again. So if Yarrod was maybe double-checking his memory in the same way…? Maybe even making it into a rhyme for his own self…? Honestly, that sounds fun and exciting to me as a reader. We kind of look forward to devices like that. He checks for his crow, his gun, his handkerchief, etc.

It might be important to keep “knowing” and “remembering” separate, I’m not sure. Up to you. Lots of options. If you don’t like those I could brainstorm more later.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
“When all was said and done Yarrod knew few things but knew them well: a crow by the name of Stich, that he was sworn to kill the Dannoon… “ And then after you list them like that basically have a paragraph addressing each thing.
I was thinking something along these lines. It could make a more direct connection to the things you've described throughout the chapter and this moment of knowing. It seems like that could remove the idea you're withholding something.
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I’m now interested in starting a topic on 3rd person limited, because I don’t know how strict I am on it….
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
I’m now interested in starting a topic on 3rd person limited, because I don’t know how strict I would be about it.

It seems like a lot of 3rd limited moves in and out like a telescope into someone’s head.
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
I wasn't holding that information back, the information was being used to write the first chapter.
So. There was no problem. The commenters were wrong about things being held back. Or communications were poor. (Typed words gang aft a-gley)

It feels to this reader like maybe the comments have seeded some mistrust in the author. Mistrust in the work in progress.

Could this be set aside as a mere possible problem? A wildpoint? And then the author continue with the work? Time flies. There's much to do.

Something will come along as the work progresses. Some maybe better way will be found. There will be several times ahead the issue of post-reset knowledge will be written about. One of those times something different has the chance to appear.

(Like, perhaps the memories aren't being "reset" at all. Perhaps they are being stolen, but leaving faint imprints of what they were. Echos, recalling their wholes back into being after the reset. Memories aren't wiped, they leave holes.)

Or maybe no one else involved with the course of the work will experience this current "problem" at all. And all this was noise and dust-devils.

Write on. Get it down. Come back later and deal with "realities,"
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I was thinking something along these lines. It could make a more direct connection to the things you've described throughout the chapter and this moment of knowing. It seems like that could remove the idea you're withholding something.
This is just my opinion, but I almost said “you’ve got to connect those” last night and I was thinking of how I would do that.
I think you can handle it a few ways. You can take the line off and start the next paragraph:

“When all was said and done Yarrod knew few things but knew them well: a crow by the name of Stich, that he was sworn to kill the Dannoon… “ And then after you list them like that basically have a paragraph addressing each thing.

I have a suggestion that maybe Yarrod has some kind of method to continue to remember these few things. Repeating lines always makes them stand out and makes the reader look for the same thing again. So if Yarrod was maybe double-checking his memory in the same way…? Maybe even making it into a rhyme for his own self…? Honestly, that sounds fun and exciting to me as a reader. We kind of look forward to devices like that. He checks for his crow, his gun, his handkerchief, etc.

It might be important to keep “knowing” and “remembering” separate, I’m not sure. Up to you. Lots of options. If you don’t like those I could brainstorm more later.
Come on now, you honestly think that solution wasn't my first thought? :) It needs to be subtler than that or the journey across the desert is going to be reduced to a paragraph. It's going to be reduced eventually but not cut right back. There are lots of things I say during that journey that inform you of who Yarrod is and his state of mind as well as dropping other snippets of information. I need that information to hang it all on, and if I use it straight away, there's no intrigue and sense of progression.

I need to improve that journey for certain and eventually I will. I just need a better way of making sure readers don't think I'm withholding information at the start. Just immediately telling the reader what that information is would be clunky and remove opportunities to expand on Yarrod. What I could do and probably will end up doing is bringing up the Dannuk and explaining more about them. That may trick the reader enough to believe that is all the information he received, and then I can continue to drop other information in as I have already done.

In fact, now I've written that, I reckon it's workable. From lost and unsure to Terminator, which would show the power and hold the 'imperative' curse has over him. Everything else can then be layered in as it has been, albeit better presented and in a more interesting way.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
So. There was no problem. The commenters were wrong about things being held back. Or communications were poor. (Typed words gang aft a-gley)

It feels to this reader like maybe the comments have seeded some mistrust in the author. Mistrust in the work in progress.

Could this be set aside as a mere possible problem? A wildpoint? And then the author continue with the work? Time flies. There's much to do.

Something will come along as the work progresses. Some maybe better way will be found. There will be several times ahead the issue of post-reset knowledge will be written about. One of those times something different has the chance to appear.

(Like, perhaps the memories aren't being "reset" at all. Perhaps they are being stolen, but leaving faint imprints of what they were. Echos, recalling their wholes back into being after the reset. Memories aren't wiped, they leave holes.)

Or maybe no one else involved with the course of the work will experience this current "problem" at all. And all this was noise and dust-devils.

Write on. Get it down. Come back later and deal with "realities,"
You could be right, yeah. It is only two people after all and at this point hundreds of people have seen the story. I have in fact put it on hold and I'm now writing chapter 2. You've got to remember though, I'm practising at the moment and tightening my craft. I start writing this proper in Feb. This was just something I thought worth mulling over as part of the practice. I'm sure I'll come across similar problems in the future when using the third person limited POV.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
Come on now, you honestly think that solution wasn't my first thought? :) It needs to be subtler than that or the journey across the desert is going to be reduced to a paragraph. It's going to be reduced eventually but not cut right back. There are lots of things I say during that journey that inform you of who Yarrod is and his state of mind as well as dropping other snippets of information. I need that information to hang it all on, and if I use it straight away, there's no intrigue and sense of progression.

I need to improve that journey for certain and eventually I will. I just need a better way of making sure readers don't think I'm withholding information at the start. Just immediately telling the reader what that information is would be clunky and remove opportunities to expand on Yarrod. What I could do and probably will end up doing is bringing up the Dannuk and explaining more about them. That may trick the reader enough to believe that is all the information he received, and then I can continue to drop other information in as I have already done.

In fact, now I've written that, I reckon it's workable. From lost and unsure to Terminator, which would show the power and hold the 'imperative' curse has over him. Everything else can then be layered in as it has been, albeit better presented and in a more interesting way.
Whoops. For some reason I thought that line came after you wove in all the information...like a scene or chapter ending line. If you have that line and the next thing you do is roll out some specific information for the reader, I don't really see the issue with it. It all makes sense to me for third person limited--he had a thought about what he now knew and then those things were thought about or seen in more specific detail. I see you're planning to improve the journey through the desert phase at some point (in revision?), and I imagine that you'll be able to smooth over any lack of clarity when you do.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
Whoops. For some reason I thought that line came after you wove in all the information...like a scene or chapter ending line. If you have that line and the next thing you do is roll out some specific information for the reader, I don't really see the issue with it. It all makes sense to me for third person limited--he had a thought about what he now knew and then those things were thought about or seen in more specific detail. I see you're planning to improve the journey through the desert phase at some point (in revision?), and I imagine that you'll be able to smooth over any lack of clarity when you do.
I've laid the foundations for a huge tonal change. Instead of doing that though, I've decided to continue with chapter 2. I think by the time I get through that, the tone will be set into my bonce and I can tackle the first part again, although I may press on even further just to make sure.
 

Ajoy

Senior Member
I've laid the foundations for a huge tonal change. Instead of doing that though, I've decided to continue with chapter 2. I think by the time I get through that, the tone will be set into my bonce and I can tackle the first part again, although I may press on even further just to make sure.
I think that sounds pretty smart. For me, it actually helped to analyze them by act (according to three act structure). When I had the whole first act finished, it was easier to see it from a lot more angles.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I think that sounds pretty smart. For me, it actually helped to analyze them by act (according to three act structure). When I had the whole first act finished, it was easier to see it from a lot more angles.
Yeah, I'm fighting the urge to get lost in the woods. I've already started world building and already got 4 chapters in my head and I find it distracting. I'm still concentrating on improving my craft so that's ALL I want to focus on really.
 
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