Friday, April 6, 2012

A to Z Blogging Challenge: F is for...

...Frame of Reference!

For my entries in the 2012 A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on writing elements that I find important and that I want to incorporate into my work.

Today, the topic is FRAME OF REFERENCE

By this, I mean a combination of Narrative Point of View, Narrative Voice, and Backstory.  Taken together, these work as the 'grounding' for a given piece of fiction -- the portal through which the reader enters the world of the story. 

Do I want to put the reader on the shoulder of my main character, (like third-person limited) or in their head (first-person)?  Or do I want them set away at a distance, maybe not connected to a single character, but to be able to know all and see all (like third-person omniscient)?  That way they might be able to make connections that the characters can't for themselves.

How much of the backstory should I reveal to the reader?  Again, do I want to give them insight into a character's motives and prior knowledge, or do I want them to be kept in the dark as much as possible, revealing the drama in bits and pieces as it happens?

There is no hard and fast dictate for successful fiction -- for any rule you might care to mention, I'm certain I can find several examples of captivating stories that break the rule. 

But for me, in general, I tend to start out third-person limited, revealing as little backstory as is absolutely needed.   I normally want my readers close, but not claustrophobic; and as in-the-moment as possible without being weighed down with a bunch of extra historical baggage. 

But there are times when this just doesn't work out well -- the story might need that first-person connection, or a sweeping historical base, or maybe even a separated, disconnected perspective for the reader.  If I just listen, the story tends to lead me to the right frame of reference, and it is typically because of the characters. 

Plot is crucial, but like I said back in my "C" post, I think my stories turn out best when the characters have anchored and given structure to my work. They are the ones who ultimately choose the best frame of reference.

I just gotta listen to my characters...

Thanks for visiting -- see you the rest of this month for more alphabetical fun!

Don't forget to visit HERE to see all the bloggers taking part in this A-to-Z challenge, and try to drop in on as many of them as you can!


Fiona Faith Maddock said...

Nice blog! I love your illustrations of the dictionary entries. Good luck with A to Z Challenge.

.jessica. said...

I like the way you tie all these various elements together - POV, backstory, character development - under the heading of frame of reference. I hadn't considered it in quite that way, and that's a really useful way of thinking about it!

Great post - I'm so glad to have found your blog through the challenge!

DL Hammons said...

I agree with you...dolling out pieces of backstory as the story progresses keeps the reader curious and in suspense. Excellent topic....and explanation! :)

cherie said...

Excellent post and great writing tips! Thanks for sharing. I always love getting writerly perspective from other writers. :)

Sylvia Ney said...

Great point. You must listen to your characters! New follower here. I’m enjoying reading my fellow “A to Z”ers. I look forward to visiting again.


Chris Fries said...

To all: Sorry for the delay in responding -- I was gone all weekend and just now getting a chance to catch up on my blogging. I hope to re-visit ASAP each of the A-to-Zers who visited and commented on my blog!

@Fiona: Thank you! A little cut 'n' paste from here and there blended with the low-budget magic of MS Paint. ;^) And happy A-to-Z to you, too!

@jessica: Thank you so much for the kind words! And I'm very happy to have found your blog, too!

@DL: Thanks, Don! I really appreciate your support and comments!

@cherie: You're very kind to say so. Thank you so much for the visit and the comment!

@Sylvia: Thank you for the visit and the comment! And Happy A-to-Zing to you, too!