a device that is generating concepts

Associative alternating first-person narrative

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Narrative point of view is one of most important methods of narrative mode and it determines the perspective of the story. Third-person view is great when you have a wide and heterogeneous arena, covered by many characters, so it is easy to switch between sub-stories and follow up on everything from above. It is a great choice of narrative to experience an omniscient feeling or a sense of control.

Third-person view is less convenient when you would like to create a deep connection of reader to certain character and deep understanding of its feelings, thoughts and motivations. Here the first-person narrative is the native choice, giving the ability to get into the head of character and by seeing the story through his eyes, create identification with the character. Clear disadvantage is limited ability to deep dive into many characters. Switching between them frequently is very complex as content switch is confusing and in addition zoom-in-zoom-out throughout the story is hard. There are various “alternating person” view methods that are used to do so – for example switching between characters first-person views together with changing chapters or books. You can meet it in epistolary novels where different letters were “told” by different characters. Bottom line – it is a challenge and there is a need in innovation here 🙂

The idea I had recently is to use the amazing property of cognition – analogy. The analogy as a low level brain engine can be very powerful in treating this problem of switching first-person point of views very effectively. The instrument that I would like to use here is association with certain semantic property. For example it can be color, sign or font. There are several things that could be critical.

Not only unintrusive, but it has to be as much as it is possible native for our perception – the way to indicate a character’s point of view. The better it is going to be constructed, the easier and native will be the content switch for a reader. It can be treated in a very gross mater – for example like in scenarios, but then it would not give a required effect of deep emotional engagement.

So the aspect that seems to me important is “brain training” stage, during which narrative is focusing on each character separately, at the beginning “spending” lot of time, attaching them to reader one-by-one.  With the progress, the frequency of switching can be increased and, finally, it can be even totally mixed – characters would meet and interact, while each side would be in first-person point of view with very native switching in our mind.

The feeling can be similar to dreaming, when we can see the occurring from different perspectives, or kind of “split personality”.

Obviously the third-person parts within the story need to assign differently, so in “associative alternating first-person narrative” there would be at least 3 forms of some semantic property. For example it can be colors – blue font for main woman character, red for main man character first-person views and black for third-person view parts of the narrative. This property also becomes an integrated part of the story and enriches the spectrum of meanings.

This method can be used also in computer games and movies, during which the visual (or audio!) association is used to arrange characters.


Author: Andrey Gabdulin Product Development

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