#499…sci, relig, ETC: “Another Example of Interloping Narrative”


   In #493 we introduced the technique of interloping narrative in sci-fo fiction. Here’s another example to underline what we said:


  [Ten defenders of a tall rugged fortress atop a small mountain shaped much like an upside-down icicle have successfully held off an army of 1000 for 6 months. Their leader, a teenage prince, months earlier had promised–come what may–if they survived that they would celebrate a special day at the half-year point. Chapter 13 begins…] 


   After almost six months, the long-dreamed-of feast on Resurrection Day on Maenus 1 approached. Little did the defenders realize how soon everything would forever change.


   Winter had relaxed the defenders’ vigilance, and bone-chilling patrols had become fewer and were done quickly…

   At last winter seemed to come to an end.

   Seemed to.

   Seemed to, because winter weather hadn’t quite finished. And weather played a key role in the series of events that would soon follow.


[Story continues on the other side of the DOOR.]




   King Stulk’s first attack–his first real attack–involved warfare unlike anything Galen, Millicent, Weft, Maleg, or even Storie [the defender who was a seasoned climber] had ever discussed.


   The remainder of the day they had to rest. and rest they did, not knowing that it was the last day that the ten of them would ever enjoy together.



   (First note that a few phrases and sentences are deleted to make the size of this post manageable.)

   Next please accept (without my demonstrating it here¹) that only the thoughts of Prince Galen are revealed in this story which employs 3rd person limited-omniscience making the story sound more real.

   However–and this is a big however–“limited omniscience” is not completely accurate. There is interloping narrative intrusion–or, if you will, “wise words from above.” Whatever  is that? you ask. Narrators sometimes, and it doesn’t necessarily scream at you, prank the reader and “prophesy,” or foreshadow, events in a general way omitting sharp details that he ordinarily employs. At the end of a chapter this is sometimes referred to as a “cliffhanger.”²

   Why do this? It can send a sparkle of life  into a barrel of clinical narration. Or it can be thinking of  how the “teller” of the text, in this case Galen, would present the story around a campfire, or put it down as a record, after everything was over.

   Yes, but forcing parts of a story into a neat catalog of techniques can seem false and can deaden an otherwise interesting series of events. And most readers never even think writing techniques and “author obligations” as they read.

   If I wanted to underline 2 things here, they would be this: (1) As in real life, the reader enters into the thinking of only one character–in this case the young man Galen, and yes, this presents a male POV; and (2) As one writes, or thinks about what others have written, it may be important to consider the effect of adding information by interloping narrative intrusion (my term) to events that take place. Does it tell too much? Is it unnecessary? Does it help carry the story to its proper conclusion?

   [It’s probably unnecessary to add that interloping narrative confusion is also possible is stories with the 3rd person omniscient POV. But I did it anyway.]


   ¹ Galen’s thoughts are demonstrated in my previous post on this, {493}.

   ² Cliffhangers, however, don’t have to have a prophetic, or futuristic, element.

Author: John Knapp