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A Discussion About Authorial Intrusion and It's Place In Narrative Fiction

Updated: Mar 2

Intrude, or Not To Intrude, That is the Question

When I write I let it all hang out. I just write what goes from my head to my fingers (and I'm a hunt-and-pecker, but don't judge—I can type pretty fast). So I write first, just to get the thought or idea out of my head, because I never know when I might be interrupted, and then forget what I wanted to say. At no time is this more evident, as it is when I've been drinking and writing. Then, I really let $#!% fly. I don't drink very often, but when I do, I write crazy stuff.

a gray-haired man in a suit with a beer
https://www.pinterest.com/pin/4503668348264572/

I have been known to write after having a few drinks, but hey, don't we all? Come on, you know you craft your best Facebook posts after you've had a glass of wine, or three. Of course, nine times out of ten, when I read what I wrote the next day, I shake my head and wonder, how much did I drink last night, and then delete it. But before I delete it, I copy the buzz writing and paste it in an ongoing thread called 'Jason's Drunk Trunk'.

If you know me, or if you follow my blog, then you know I am working on my first full-length fiction novel titled, Mysterious Ways. Well, as I said at the beginning of this post, when I write, I let it all hang out, and that's the only way I know how to write. In doing so, I sometimes address the reader, as I am addressing YOU now, which is okay in a blog (I hope), but is it okay in fiction? I went to the source, Google of course, to find an answer to that very question.

What the Professionals Say

From what I read, most reputable writing sites and blogs frown upon authorial intrusion, (read one here from Eschler Editing), which is sometimes called direct address, or breaking the fourth wall, which is a term used more so in acting and film. I was totally bummed out when I read this, because there are some passages in my novel in which I speak directly to the reader. So, I found all those instances in Mysterious Ways and took them out of the book, even though I felt that it was the best way to describe something, or it may have been an attempt at humor. I didn't delete the passages, I just copied them into another file called, "Author Intrusions", just in case I ever change my mind.


 

two hands holding a tablet with a man jumping out of a book

Well, guess what? (Another example of author intrusion right there...) As I'm editing the first draft, I'm constantly deleting and adding scenes, and now, I will catch myself addressing the reader. It just comes naturally to me, I suppose. So, I went back and dug a little deeper on the subject and found that there are proponents for using this literary device, so long as it's used correctly and doesn't get in the way of the story. I try not to use this tool to express my opinion, promote my agenda, or to try sounding smart, in fact, I don't even try to use it, that's just how I tell a story.


 

What's Your Opinion On Authorial Intrusion

And now, it is time to hear from you, my reader. What is your opinion on this issue? The following excerpts from Mysterious Ways contain authorial intrusion (highlighted in yellow) by yours truly. Do you mind if the author speaks to you from the page, or should this be left out of narrative fiction altogether? Your feedback is greatly appreciated, and please vote!


From Chapter 18 of Mysterious Ways—

Again, Big Wes uttered nothing, except the deep, rasping breaths he took from the walk back to his office. Karl didn’t know whether or not Wes was evading his questions or just didn’t hear him, but either way, Karl was not going to get an answer. Wes was back at his desk, and plopped his fat ass in the chair and started rolling around on the hard plastic floor mat. You know the ones? One side is slick as shit, and the other side is death by a million tiny daggers. Those suckers are sharp and I’m pretty sure that household pets have been killed by them.

Wes pointed the phone directly at his face and took a deep breath. “Karl, my friend,” he exhaled, “Let’s work us up a deal.”


 

From Chapter 28 of Mysterious Ways—

The adventurer reached the mouth of the cave and cautiously looked around, to make sure no one was following him, but also to take a snapshot with his eyes, of the view around the cave entrance, for the memory bank. The opening was about the size of two pieces of plywood, or two king-size mattresses, or let’s just say, eight feet by eight feet, or better yet, 8x8. Hopefully, one of these helps you, my dear reader, to imagine the size of the entrance to the dark, ominous cave.

Then Jack thought, before stepping into the dark hole, it would probably be wise to take a snapshot of something else—the map. He pulled it out from his back pocket and unfolded the tattered piece of paper. He noticed something that Ben wrote on the map that he had not seen before. The name Esk was written down, with an arrow pointing to the cave. Jack guessed that it must be the name of the Deyaan that was supposedly waiting for him there.

As I re-read the last example, I would probably leave that direct address out because it's lengthy and it interrupts the flow of the story. I would delete that and combine the two paragraphs into one.   

a yellow thumbs up

 

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