View Full Version : A Folk Tale

03-13-2019, 05:51 PM
OK, within my WIP I have a couple of sailors telling a folk tale "Captain Dirk and the Black Demon." One of the sailors is doing the telling, while the other (a mute) is miming.

Now, the thing is that the story is "oral tradition" and very likely never written down because not many people can write on this planet. In the WIP it's all "blah blah blah," the sailor said.

What I have done is to pretend that the sailor told me the tale and I wrote it down verbatim as a separate piece. Being as it's an oral folk tale there will be some "rough edges" to the narration. The problem is that there is a lot of "this happened, that happened, something else happened" narrative, which I need to break up a bit with odd writing styles and structures, including the dreaded passive voice. I take the view that a character can say what they like how they like, including using a bit of passive voice, as long as it bears at least some resemblance to grammar rules. BUT of course that does not apply for (my) narration.

I was thinking of putting it up in "Share My Work" but I know I'll get the comments about passive voice etc etc. Should I make it clear that "it's an oral folk tale written down as spoken"?

Or should I "polish it up"? I don't know, because then it will lose its oral qualities.

Or should I not bother writing it down at all? That would be a shame, because it's quite fun.


Spoilers: it's a story about a Pirate Ship, the Knight of the Spoon and a demon called Zareth the Unspeakable.

03-13-2019, 06:07 PM
Hey Keithy,

I'd go ahead and post in Share Your Work. I get what you're going for (I think!), and it's definitely an unusual sort of narrative - but it still has to work for the reader. You'll probably get some folks who just don't like the style, but you'll also get some who enjoy it and can help you work out the right balance. (You've hooked me already with the names. :))

03-13-2019, 06:31 PM
A second vote for SYW, with a note explaining what it is you're trying to do and why, and that you know it's rich with passive voice.

Gimme a poke when it's up. I'll try to make time for it. I've written such a scene before and it's surprisingly different from "regular" writing.

03-13-2019, 06:56 PM
I've written such a scene before and it's surprisingly different from "regular" writing.

Agreed. I love this sort of thing, but I've found them challenging to write precisely because I WANT it to feel like an old story. That means making the voice distinctly different from my usual style and striving for the perfect balance of old-fashion style that (hopefully) appeals to modern sensibilities... not an easy feat.

Additionally, it requires a certain level of intimacy with the cadence and rhythm of real folk tales to pull off well.

03-16-2019, 01:03 AM
Yet another vote for posting in SYW, along with a quick note about the effect you're aiming for. You'll likely get some people who don't like the format, but I suspect you'll get others who do--and who may have helpful tips about carrying it off. Also, the names are so delightful, I'm tempted to read it just for those!

AW Admin
03-16-2019, 03:09 AM
Yep; SYW with a short note explaining that it's verbatim.

03-16-2019, 05:46 AM
I got too busy with plotting "Dancing Shadows", sorry.

04-08-2019, 05:49 AM
Now I'm not sure I'll be using this in the MS. It's a case of "killing your darlings". Well, I won't kill it, but put it aside. It might escape the coming butchery.