Posted by: Thomas Drinkard | August 29, 2015

Learning from the Masters

I learned a valuable lesson, a few years ago, from a writer who I consider one of the masters of modern fiction, James Lee Burke.

I was writing my first novel, Piety and Murder.  The tale is told from the first person point of view.  I hit a situation in the novel where the protagonist wasn’t present in an important piece of the action. His buddy had to tell the story from that scene.

What to do?

I remembered that Burke had used a simple, very effective technique to have the telling of his story transferred from the original narrator to another.

Here it is.

“This is the story he told me.”

It worked. The reader isn’t confused about the speaker.  In my book, the principal protagonist is on the phone with his buddy, the man who tells him about the scene he’s just witnessed.

This technique has a limited, but elegant, use.

Have fun, Writers!

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