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How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago

I'm trying to write a story where the PoV character and the Player character are two separate beings in the same body. The player has possessed the PoV and said PoV is reasonably terrified about the fact that he cant move his own body. But, I found that it's very hard to implement "show don't tell" when the PoV literally can't show anything. The only things he can do is describe what he see's the player doing and talk to the player directly to try and make the player choose the choices he wants them to choose. Essentially what I'm asking is how to liven up this characters' internal monologue.

 

 

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago
This is pretty much all stories told from a first person POV. I'd recommend finding a few books written that way to see how they handle it if you're really struggling.

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago
Indeed, in that case you're going to have trouble showing. Are there times when the PoV can take a tiny bit of control? Does the PoV talk to the PC? If so, they could tell them where to look and then you could show things (if the PC chooses to do so, of course).

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago
The PoV may not be able to make facial expressions or consciously move his body, but could he still have physical, emotional reactions? For example, his heart beating faster or feeling like he has butterflies in his stomach when he's nervous.

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago
That's a good one. Maybe even starting to hyperventilate or a sudden, inconvenient rush of adrenaline?

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago

I think I explained things wrong. The PC and the PoV are literally two different things. This is more like the Pixar movie Soul but instead of the black dude becoming a cat when the soul takes his body he becomes nothing more than a voice that the soul controlling his body can hear. He has no control over his breathing, his blinking, or even his heart rate. 

That's kinda what the story game's about. You have control while he doesn't. The whole "I have no mouth but I must scream" thing. The player can choose to either speak back to the PoV and try to make him feel like he has some sort of agency, or ignore him to achieve their own goals and he's trapped watching and unable to do anything about it.

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago

If you're determined to have the narrator have zero control over their physical actions, a stream of consciousnesses approach could work (where you're narrating their thoughts directly rather than separating them with tags like "I thought" or "I felt").  Stream of consciousness is tough to do well, though, since if it's too direct it comes across as telling, and if it's too indirect it just confuses and irritates the reader.  In my experience, the trick is to have the narrator make observational comments on physical stimuli rather than describing their thoughts or emotions.  Then you use these comments and reactions to "show" their thoughts rather than tell them, as the reader can still use this method to infer emotional state indirectly.

It's tough to give advice for this question, since there's a number of plausible different directions you could approach this from.  Knowing more about the narrator's personality might help.  A funny or snarky narrator will be easier to do this with, whereas a frightened narrator would be much harder to potray entertainingly.

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago
Most people don't have control over their breathing, blinking, or heartrate. Can he literally not even feel things?

First person POV in any story really is pretty much just the reader having nothing to go by but the stream of consciousness of the narrating character though.

Maybe you should just let the soul that's controlling things do the narration, with input and opinions from the body's owner. It seems like you might be making this really complicated for yourself in ways that may not add enough to justify it to whatever the actual plot is. You have to make a lot of decisions on the best way to convey information in any story, and the POV is one of those things.

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago
In regard Ogre's post, if the pc has to deal with the narrator's emotional responses to, say, arguing with a parent or seeing their bully at school, it gives the player a reason to consider their choices and how they might affect the narrator. I think a story like this hinges on the player caring and relating to the narrator to work, and this is the easiest way I can think of.

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago
Technically, we don't have any control over how our bodies react to emotion anyway. Blinking and breathing are both voluntary and involuntary actions, whereas serotonin, adrenaline, and other such chemicals aren't something we have control over. Not consciously at least, but I digress. Adding onto Gryphon's post, you could take the PoV's disposition towards the PC into account too. If the narrator likes the PC and their choices, he'll likely be happier with the PC than he would be if the PC makes choices he doesn't like. It might add unwanted complexity though, since you'd probably have to track the player's choices if you don't want to use a time cave structure. You also need to consider how the narrator would convey emotion through "dialogue". For that, I would suggest listening to a movie or a scene and think about how the characters' speech patterns, tone, and word choice convey their feelings about something.

How to convey emotions without a body

9 months ago

First, I disagree that "show don't tell" is a maxim that must be followed at all costs in all fiction writing.

Second, if the POV can't show anything you have no story, so consider some ways you can show.

First person is going to give you a very strong voice but with two first person voices it could become quite confusing for the reader.

As far as how the POV can show with no body:

Perhaps the POV does not lose all control at first, but rather slowly as the player gains control. Or the POV is constantly fighting and can occasionally move one extremity to cause violently hilarious situations. The player can also evidently "hear" his voice, right, so the POV can be saying snide things like "If I had control of my left eyebrow, I'd be raising it." Or the player could feel a chill up his spine or sneeze unexpectedly. Or become dizzy. Various mechanics could be used, and you could always consider that the taking over of the POV blends their minds in a way that it is difficult to tell one from the other, both from the player and POV's perspectives.