What is the direct rule in the story

Talk in stories: narrator speech and character speech

Each story consists of a narrator speech and usually also a character speech. And while the narrator's speech - or the narrator's report - is simply the narrator's speech (storyline, descriptions, comments, etc.), character speech comes in many different forms: direct speech, indirect speech, experienced speech, internal monologue, stream of consciousness. Of course, most of them represent a figuralization of the narrator's speech - and this is precisely where their meaning lies: The degree of figuralization significantly influences the reader's closeness to the characters ...

There are characters in every story. And mostly they talk: with each other or with themselves.

But even the narration itself is actually speech: the narrator's speech.

Thus a narrative text consists of Narrator speech and Figure speech. And while the former simply represents the narrator's speech, the latter can be found in various forms:

  • in direct speech,
  • in indirect speech,
  • in the experienced speech,
  • in the inner monologue and
  • in the stream of consciousness.

So, in this article, we'll look at how the speech is played out in stories and how each shape differs from one another.

Narrator speech and figure speech

At first glance, narrative speech and character speech are easy to distinguish from one another:

“In the meantime Porthos had come up and greeted Athos. When he turned to d'Artagnan, he looked very puzzled. He had, incidentally, noticed that he had changed his weir hangings and left his coat at home.

"Yes, what does that mean?" He cried.

"This is the gentleman I fight with," said Athos, pointing to d'Artagnan.

"I'm fighting with him too," Porthos said.

"But only in an hour," said d'Artagnan.

"And I," shouted Aramis, who came up at that moment, "hit me with him too."

"But not until two," said d'Artagnan calmly. "

Alexandre Dumas: The Three Musketeers, Chapter V: The King's Musketeers and the Cardinal's Life Guard.

In the narrator's speech reportedwhat happens in the story and who does what; the narrator describes and explained, reflected, evaluates and commented and in some stories even addresses the reader directly.

However, the narrator's speech - or the narrator's report (as it is often also called) - is often interrupted by the character speech. This is clearly marked in the above example:

  • It will literally quotedwhat the characters "actually" said.
  • These quotes are by appropriate Punctuation marksmarked.
  • The The narrator's speech is interrupted and
  • the 3rd person (s) changes to the 1st person (I).
  • In the Accompanying clauses it is clear that a figure is speaking here.

And because this figure speech is so literal and direct, it is called verbatim or direct speech.

Direct speech: punctuation

At this point a little digression on punctuation in direct speech, because this is often done wrong:

  • Verbatim speech becomes always placed between quotation marks: By default, the quotation marks are at the beginning below and at the end above.

Fritzchen said: "I'm cold."

  • Literal speech is followed by a comma severed. This stands outside the quotes.

"I'm cold," said Fritzchen.

  • If the sentence of the verbatim speech is followed by the accompanying sentence, in the case of propositional sentences no point set.But question and exclamation marks do. The commathat separates the accompanying sentence from the literal speech, remains!

"Are you cold?" Asked Lieschen.

“Yes, I'm cold!” Shouted Fritzchen.

Yes, sometimes you see it handled differently in published books - also in the example above. But that doesn't mean that you should violate the rules of German punctuation for no good reason.

When narrative speech and character speech merge

As neatly as the narrator and character speech were separated in the above example: It is not always that clear!

First of all, it should be noted that the story is always told by a narrator and we have no guarantee that the verbatim speech was actually said that way. We usually assume that it is authentic - and most of the time it is intended to be so - but purely theoretically, it is still up to the narrator to reproduce what has been said verbatim or to modify it stylistically or even in terms of content. Bullet point unreliable narration.

Second - and this is what we are talking about in greater detail today - one often sees the narrative speech not in its pure form, but with features of the character speech. And the first step to Figuralization of the narrator's speech is the indirect speech ...

Indirect speech

The indirect speech does without quotation marks, but is still clearly identifiable:

Fritzchen said he was cold.

Fritzchen said he was cold.

Signals that we can use to recognize that a figure is speaking are the following:

  • It stands It goes without saying that Fritzchen is speaking here.
  • What is said is through a comma - and in the second example also by a "that“- separated and
  • is written in conjunctive.

Indirect speech appears less authentic than direct speech because it no quote is. It is clearly the narrator who repeats what has been said, not the character himself.

And often the narrator also summarizes what has been said. In our example, for example, Fritzchen might originally have said: “Brrr, it's cold here! My hands are icicles! ”With that, the narrator would only have focused on the essentials in indirect speech.

The influence of the narrator on the reproduction of what has been said is clearly recognizable here. But while what is said in indirect speech seems less authentic, is indirect speech is more authentic than verbatim speech, especially for narration.

Nobody tells their friends:

My parents said: "You can only go to the party after you've done your homework!"

Usually you say something like this:

My parents said I can't go to the party until I've done my homework.

Experienced speech

The intermingling is a little stronger in the experienced speech. Here the narrator speaks, so to speak through the prism of the figure without explicitly indicating it. One could say: The figure speech disguises itself here as a narrator speech.

Fritz shivered. He was so terribly cold! His hands were icicles. Hopefully he didn't freeze to death.

Formally, the narrator speaks here, but the text is through Fritzchen's inside view coined: We got a glimpse of his Feelings and thoughts, his Sensations and Hopes. As a result, the reader is emotionally closer to the character and can empathize.

If you change the 3rd person to the 1st and the past tense to the present tense, it becomes an inner monologue ...

Inner monologue

In the inner monologue, the figure takes up even more space than the narrator. Even more, the narrator gives the “stage” almost completely free for the inner workings of the character:

I'm so terribly cold! My hands are icicles. I hope I won't freeze to death.

Considered from the fact that we read the thoughts of another person here unnaturally and that thoughts and feelings are generally only rarely formulated in complete, grammatically correct sentences, the reproduction of a character's feelings through the inner monologue feels quite authentic. It seems a bit like literal speech: literal and unadulterated. The narrator stays nicely in the background, where he cannot distract from the inside of the character.

Stream of Consciousness

You can only achieve maximum authenticity if you reproduce a (supposedly) unadulterated stream of consciousness: Thoughts, feelings, scraps of words and sentences, memories ... Anything that goes through the figure's head - as chaotic as it appears in the figure's head.

Cold. Damn it ... hands - shit like icicles! Already a quarter past three. Where is she ?! Persevere ... persevere!

Not a special case: first-person narrators

In the previous examples we have now assumed that the narrator is speaking in the 3rd person (he / she). The characters themselves speak in the first person, of course.

But what if we have a first-person narrator?

Well, I remind you of the distinction between the narrative and the narrated self. The Narrator speech is the talk of telling me. The speech of the I told is the Figure speech. In terms of the characteristics of narrator speech and character speech, everything remains the same - apart from the fact that in the narrator speech it is not the 3rd but the 1st person that is used.

I said, "I'm cold."

I said I was cold.

And so on ...

The sense of narrative speech and character speech

But what's the point now? Because at least with the narrator's speech, the meaning is clear:

The narrator tells, he speaks, so he has a speech.

But as soon as the character speech comes into play, it gets more complicated ...

Because this one has double function:

  • It supports the narrator's speech in rendering the plot.
    The characters discuss events, make decisions, establish causal connections, exchange background information ... and so on.
  • It characterizes the figures and, if necessary, their relationships to one another.
    Their choice of words and syntax, what they pay attention to, how their tone changes towards different interlocutors ... All of this gives us information about who they are, what their background is and how they are networked with one another.

By figuralising the narrator's speech, the narrator is (apparently) pushed into the background and the inner workings of the character come to the fore. This allows the reader to participate directly in the thoughts and feelings of the character, to be emotionally infected, to empathize and to cheer. In addition, the figuralization is often associated with the limited, subjective perspective of the figure and thus also with a limited horizon of knowledge:

  • What the character doesn't know, the reader doesn't know either.
  • If the character is surprised, so is the reader.
  • If a figure is wrong, most readers don't question it.
  • And so on ...

How much narrative speech and how much character speech you include in your story depends very much on the story Choice of narrative perspective together. At this point I refer to my two articles in which I “defaced” the narrative theoretical models of Stanzel and Genette in order to turn them into a tool for choosing a suitable narrative perspective. Click over and tell me whether my “blemishes” are any good!

Stream of consciousness / direct speech / experienced speech / narrator report / narrator speech / figure speech / indirect speech / inner monologue / speech reproduction / verbatim speech