Style Guide #4
Many authors employ unconventional stylistic choices when it comes to storytelling. For example, instead of having a dominant narrator, some have the characters narrate different scenes. Some audience may find this method creative and novel, but it has many downsides that can harm the reading experience. “The Tape” is a good example of an unconventional storytelling in which each character rotates to tell the story from their point of view. On the other hand, “The Violin” sticks to the conventional storytelling in which the narrator connects each author’s entries into a cohesive story. The difference in the pacing and clarity of the two stories demonstrate how the conventional storytelling works better than having each character narrate.
The pacing of the whole story can be compromised under the storytelling that “The Tape” employs. Multiple descriptions of the same scene can lag the entire plot by focusing on each character’s thoughts and viewpoints. For example, following the second narration blurb in Scene 1, James talks about watching the movie that “literally all his friends are talking about” (4EverGreen, el al, Scene 1). However, in the narration right before this part, James and Becca already started watching the movie. By showing James’s inner thoughts about the movie and allowing some overlap of the content, the authors had to give up the natural chronological flow. This made the transition between each entry awkward and confusing for the audiences. This part could have been improved by having James talk about his excitement or his thoughts while he is watching the movie or bring some of his thoughts in between the narrations for a smoother flow.
This awkward repetition can be found in Scene 3 as well. The narration shows James and Becca huddled together and “stare widely at the slowly opening closet door” (4EverGreen, el al, Scene 3). In the next entry, Stacy is shown approaching and opening the closet. In the next entry, Becca recaps the whole thing on her point of view. Again, Stacy and Becca’s entry could have been merged into one entry by having the narrator directly describe how Becca or Stacy felt. But the separation of storytelling made the simple scene very repetitive, dragging the plot.
Some may claim that this method was chosen specifically for this story given that it is a horror novel that needs ample description of fear. However, the authors could have chosen the path of showing, not telling. They could have described how each character felt by presenting visual cues such as describing their facial expressions or their gestures and keeping one part in one entry.
On the other hand, the pace of “The Violin” is very natural thanks to adhering to the conventional storytelling. When Jhin first sees “‘the corpse of his father … all he heard were the muffled sounds of voices … frozen from shock … ‘Sir! Sir! We need you to move away’ … But Jhin couldn’t move” (Soarser, el al, Scene 1). Instead of directly having Jhin talk about his feelings, the authors made a choice to show what was happening to him. His hearing was dimmed and was not able to move; this all shows how much he was shocked. This one entry was enough to show how shocking the crime scene was and proved that there was no need for other characters around him to describe it again. Also, considering that this was before it was revealed that Jhin was the killer, ‘the show don’t tell’ method was very effective for keeping the twist from the audiences until the last scene of the story. There was no issue with the transition from the previous part where Jink and Arthur because the authors did not repeat the same plot.
Another element that differentiates the two stories is clarity of the voice. The method that “The Tape” employs makes the voice very vague throughout the story. There is a confusion of who is talking. For example, in Scene 1, after James “wake[s] up sweaty in my dark, cold room,” the next entry, which is where Becca speaks, starts with “my wooden bed frame creaks loudly as I toss and turn” (4EverGreen, el al, Scene 1). If this had not been in a Storium game format but in a book without the label for each character, this method would be devastating to the storytelling because the audiences will have to guess who is talking. This is due to the fact that “The Tape” has the characters narrate their own minds and actions for each part. Again, the ambiguous voice of the story shows how not following the conventional storytelling technique can be risky.
In “The Violin,” on the other hand, the audiences do not have to try to figure out who is talking. The confusion cannot be found because the narrator is present in between many of the entries to clarify who is talking or taking action. For example, at the end of Scene 2, the transition from the video of Jhin raging to Jink “[standing] horrified” is very clear (Soarser, el al, Scene 2). This was possible because the narrator was able to describe that “the evidence providing a progression ended” (Soarser, el al, Scene 2). Having the narrator present throughout the story is very important for conveying the right story to the audience.
All in all, a conventional method of narration was more effective for the Storium project compared to the unconventional stylistic method that “The Tape” employed. Having each character narrate his or her scene compromised the pacing and the clarity of the story and ultimately harmed the audiences’ reading experience. Authors must take note that breaking the stylistic convention of narration has a great potential to harm the integrity of the storytelling.
Soaser, et al. “The Violin Scene 1-3.” Google Docs, Google, docs.google.com/document/d/1-LipKw84soD4qKDJBWh23QosoAx8XC9cWa2Lk-nqNcU/edit.
The Tape. Storium. Scene 1
The Tape. Storium. Scene 3