question marks inside bubblesHere’s my quandary. If I were to film this small piece I’m writing it would have a character walking through the woods heading toward a destination (a person). While they are walking there will be a narration (someone else’s voice than the person walking) of the contents of a letter (which is brought up in the beginning of the piece). As the narration ends, the character will walk into a clearing and the person they were heading toward is sitting on a rock with their back to them. Easy to film, hard to write to convey the idea that it’s a narration. I thought of breaking up the narration (writing it in italics with quotation marks around it) with the character walking and seeing certain things in the woods (animals or hearing a river breaking over rocks, etc.) then adding more of the narration again. Does this seem feasible or is there another way of doing it? 😀 Hope all is well if you and yours.

My biggest concern surrounding your scenario is the point of view. Things can only come into the viewpoint character’s experience if they are aware of them this includes sights, sounds, and memories or words of letters.

If your character is aware of the letter and is remembering it and its writer as she walks then there are not really any issues in writing it in the way you’ve described. I would sprinkle in a sense of the writer and what the writer sounded like in the memory of the words of the letter as that will help create the sense of the character hearing the voice in her head as she is walking. This would give it a bit of the sense of the narration being read over the action of the scene as you described it being done if it were done in film.

You could sprinkle the contents of the letter in around the character’s other experiences…what she sees…smells…thinks…etc. as she is walking toward her destination or keep the words of the letter together more tightly according to the character experience you are trying to create.

Things almost always break along the lines of what the viewpoint character’s experience is. What does she see as she is walking? What does she smell? What sounds does she hear? When she remembers the letter does she remember the letter writer? Can she imagine the way he rolled his r’s when he spoke or the way he hopped from topic to topic in a way that left the listener three steps behind? Would she imagine the way his eyes would sparkle or the way he stroked his beard when he was worried about something or pondering it? These elements can come in as part of the experience as long as they are things the character would realistically experience and as long as the character would realistically focus on them at the time you are describing them.

The challenge is more difficult if your character is not aware of the letter…because she cannot experience the words of a letter she does not remember or does not know about. In this case you would probably need to begin by changing point of view so that someone who is aware of the letter does the remembering of it.

If you didn’t want to do that you could kind of step outside of third person point of view into a more omniscient point of view by starting the chapter with the letter in italics, doing a double space after the letter and returning to normal font–then picking up with the character walking through the woods experiencing what she experiences as she walks. In this instance she would be oblivious to the words of the letter as they haven’t entered her field of knowledge yet at this point.

Generally, I would aim to stay in third person point of view rather than go into omniscient if it is possible.
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