I like this. I’ll have to watch Shawshank Redemption again. It’s been a long time.
Also keep in mind that MC and IC aren’t people, but perspectives…specifically, they are both perspectives within the same Storymind. That should mean—and I believe there’s a thread on here where Chris Huntley confirms, though I didn’t look for it—that structurally, it’s fine to have your IC scene take place outside of the MCs knowledge. This is because, as a perspective, the IC isn’t meant to have an impact on the MC player so much, but on the I perspective of the Storymind.
But if the scene takes place outside of the MC’s knowledge, how does the MC narrate that scene? As if they they heard about it after the fact?
I would assume that particular scene wouldn’t be in first-person. It’s not unheard of to have a story that’s 90% first-person, but jump over to third-person for a chapter or two. (See: the Bartimaeus trilogy, which have Bartimaeus’ chapters in first-person, and John Mandrake’s chapters in third-person.)
I think I asked about that but I don’t remember the answer or where it was!
… I was just writing that. You have to reveal it somehow.
However, you have flexibility as to when you reveal it. I think that as long as the IC Signpost Event takes place chronologically in the right place (in story time), it could be revealed to the MC at any point as long as the audience gets the whole picture by the end of the story.
Armando has a chapter on doing this deliberately to create mystery, suspense and dramatic irony.
This is actually similar to what I’m doing in my current WIP (and actually just gave me a great idea!)
I was just struggling with how to create more suspense in my story, and this gives me a great idea. So, in the first act, the MC observes a situation with the IC, but they are still strangers at this point. The MC can narrate this exchange in the first act of the story, but she doesn’t understand the complexity of what is really going on with the IC, and the reader is kept wondering what the whole picture is.
Then, later as the relationship develops between the MC and the IC, the MC learns more about what was really going on during that exchange, and this can be explained in Act 3 or 4.
I love it! I know I forget all the time the little ways an Influence Character can influence the Main Character. It doesn’t have to literally be the IC walking up to the MC, waggling their fingers, and saying, “I am influencing you now.”
However you want. As if the Mc heard about it after the fact like in Shawshank is fine, or switching to third person is fine. Or switching narrators might be an option.
Honestly, i think it’s structurally fine to just have the MC narrate the scene without breaking stride. If the structure is sound, the worst that can happen is the audience will ask how the MC has that information, but I think most will understand that if the MC is narrating, then the MC came across the info at some point between the time the story took place and the time the character began narrating that info to the audience.
How you narrate the story, or maybe I should say which character you use to narrate it, seems like a storytelling choice with infinite possibilities. Structurally, I have to think that the Storymimd itself is the narrator no matter which character it’s narrating through. Structurally, your Storymind is relating it’s already complete process of exploring the problem to the audience and thus already has all the info necessary to tell the story, no explanation needed.
Pretty sure you and I both were active in that thread. I’ll look for it later this evening maybe.
At the last subtext meeting @jhull was making the point that you can technically develop all of the throughlines completely separately. I’m still not sure I totally understand though – surely there has to be some interaction between the throughlines? I plan to follow up with him at the next meeting.
I’ve suspected that for the same reasoning given above. Even if the storytelling across throughlines is separated, it’s all connected structurally. Would like to hear what Jim says, though.
Maybe that could be another Story Assembly thread. Chose a form, have 4 different ppl illustrate a domain in their own way without interaction from the others, then see how all four fit in the end.
I wonder if there are some books that are essentially collections of different tales which might work like that – each being a separate throughline perspective on the same central inequity / GAS. World War Z (the book, not the movie which is WAY different) comes to mind, although I kind of doubt that its tales combine to form a GAS, because a) I don’t remember them very well and b) I don’t think any of them focused on a relationship story.
Very cool! It’s worth pointing out @jhull found this to be the case when he analysed The Harry Potter Series – the complexity of the IC throughline is not revealed until the end, when Snape’s true motivations and depth of character become apparent (his love for Lily, mistreatment by James, etc.).
There is a difference between the Main Character the Narrator and the Main Character the Main Character Throughline perspective.
The storyform is not a real thing – its an narrative applied to “reality.”
The Main Character the Narrator is a function of Story_telling_
The Main Character the Throughline Perspective is a function of Story_forming_.
The Narrator can know everything because he’s the Narrator, he’s not hindered by being in the same Player that holds the Main Character Perspective of the storyform.
Theoretically there doesn’t have to be. They’re tied together already by virtue of the narrative structure.
At the Genre level with the arrangement of the Throughlines (an arrangement of four creates a “Genre”)
At the Plot level with the shared location of Concerns.
At the Theme level with Catalyst, Inhibitor, Unique Abilities, and Critical Flaws.
At the Character level with shared Problems and Solutions, Focuses and Direction.
This article should help: Tying the Towers of Story Structure Together
For the same reason that the encoding of the Main Character Problem does not have to have a single thing to do with the Main Character Concern is the same reason the Influence Character Throughline doesn’t have to have a single thing to do with the Main Character.
They don’t even need to meet once.
It’s a lot more difficult showing how one perspective is impactful and influential when it doesn’t have an appreciable effect on the Main Character - but if you’re effective in communicating that YOU perspective that creates conflict, then the narrative will still hold fast in the minds of the Audience. It will still work.
The storyform keeps track of all the connections - as long as you follow that you really don’t need to worry about anything else.
I’ve never read it and never saw the end of the movie, but Cloud Atlas the movie had three or four different stories going and seemed to be trying to tie them into a single narrative. Anyone seen or read it and able to confirm?
Thanks Jim. Bookmarked!
So I can see how this might be an unusual (but interesting) choice and not super-practical for most stories. However, I can easily imagine stories where the IC doesn’t meet the MC until after the first act turn (especially in a third-person novel where you’re switching POVs). Knowing you can do that is extremely useful.
It’s been a long time since I read it and I never saw the movie. If I remember correctly, there’s an implication of reincarnation of a single character (or maybe more than one?), throughout the stories, and probably an IC perspective throughout as well e.g. I don’t think each story is a separate throughline.
A few of Milan Kundera’s books have a kind of loose structure that’s neither a novel nor a short story collection, and I’ve wondered if they might fit but I can’t think of a good example. The only one I can really remember right now though is The Unbearable Lightness of Being, which probably doesn’t fit either – Unbearable Lightness almost certainly has two complete storyforms with the two sets of lovers (Tomas and Teresa and Sabina and Franz) (I would love to analyze that one sometime…)
We should do a group analysis of Sleepless in Seattle.
I saw an earlier potential storyform for the film, but I don’t think it was accurate.
Might be fun and informative to do it all together (since MC and IC don’t meet till the end :))
Maybe it works because maybe it has three storyforms?
Oh, here it is.
I’ve gotta learn to start using this more!