Genre/Plot Question??

by Krishna
(U.S.)

"In do-over novels, like Before I Fall (Lauren Oliver) and If I Stay (Gayle Forman) authors put their protags through Groundhog-Day-like reruns to measure their lives and make sense of their deaths."


~Writing 21st Century Fiction
by: Donald Maass


How is this meant??

Like in: The Fault in Our Stars (by John Green) where the book is written in 3rd pov (I think) and explains up to the point where the character chooses whether or not to die and such??

If so, (or not) does the reader know the character is going to make this decision ahead of time somehow?

I just hope this question makes sense, thanks!!


Answer: First, The Fault in Our Stars is written in first person, past tense narration.

Second, the main character, Hazel, doesn't choose whether or not to die--that's down to cancer, which she has no control over.

Rather, Hazel wonders what happens to the survivors when someone dies of cancer--whether it's too painful and tragic for them. She then get the chance to experience losing someone close to her to cancer and finds a way to reconcile herself with the tragedy.

So I wouldn't call The Fault in Our Stars a "do-over" story. Do-over stories are ones where a character experiences a certain fate (such as dying) and then has a chance to go back in time and do things differently, possibly to achieve a different result, or perhaps just learn to reconcile themselves with the tragedy.

Some examples of do-over stories include the classic film It's a Wonderful Life and the Canadian television series, Being Erica, which you may watch online at...

http://www.cbc.ca/beingerica/episodes.html

... and maybe other places.

(I'm a fan.)

Another variation are stories where someone gets a vision of their fate and then must struggle to prevent it from happening. But they are not real do-overs since the character only experiences the path once.

Comments for Genre/Plot Question??

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Sep 16, 2014
Thanks.
by: Krishna

Sorry about that, my memory is quite horrible. I'm surprised I actually remembered the author's name to be honest. I'd thought the point of view was in third person but didn't bother to check at the time. Thanks for the info!! \(^-^)/

Sep 16, 2014
Me Again!
by: Krishna

Also, something I'd forgotten to mention!! When I had used The Fault in Our Stars and other bokks for examples, I had meant the current situation that character was in. The fact that death, or some sort of not-so-thrilled situation was imminent and the character has to face that. Normally, at least in the books I've read loosely fitting the genre (sub-genre?) so far, that they have a sort of minature life story or more accurately, some type of series of events, however trivial or non, that eventually leads up to their demise. Thus producing quite the soppy, saddening ending. What I was merely trying to say in the original question itself (no idea if this is clarifying anything..) was how do authors keep readers engaged in a tale such as that? What POV is such a novel normally written in, etc. To be honest, once again,(I've never been the greatest at clarifying questions) this still may not have made much sense or in the end, may not be the question I meant to ask at all (because my brain is weird.. hopefully that means I'm a genius) and so I thank you for giving my meager questions your time. Thanks for putting up with me!! Have a nice day and all that lovliness that I don't feel like typing. Until we speak again. -KO!!

Sep 17, 2014
Response
by: Glen

Maybe you're a genius, or just a holistic thinker (one whose mind tries to arrange and juggle many simultaneous concerns that linear thinkers would simply dismiss). It's a source of creativity.

At any rate, if your question is "how do authors keep readers engaged" in "do-over" stories...

Think of the tragic fate as an illustration of the Consequence--what will happen if the goal is not achieved. The readers are aware of the Consequences early on, and the fact that the Goal is to achieve the opposite outcome. The readers then see the character, despite his efforts, running out of either time or options, while the Consequence looms closer and closer. This keeps the reader anxiously hoping the character will win against the odds, but fearful that he won't. Only in the crisis does the character make the leap of faith, the right choice, that wins the day.

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